March 10 2014 Latest news:
Alex Hurrell, Reporter
Thursday, February 6, 2014
Hopes of a later last train on the Norwich to Sheringham Bittern Line have hit the buffers - leaving angry councillors with steam coming out of their ears.
Line operator Greater Anglia (GA) claims access to the track needed by Network Rail, and tight overnight turnaround times for servicing and cleaning trains, means it cannot run the last train from Norwich later than its current 10.45pm departure time.
But Eric Seward, who represents North Walsham Town Council on the Bittern Line Community Rail Partnership, said it was the company itself which had suggested the later-train idea and partnership members had been asked to seek the views of the community.
Mr Seward told fellow town councillors: “About 12 months ago Abellio Greater Anglia gave a green light to the partnership about the possibility, on Friday and Saturday nights, of delaying departure by 15-20 minutes - something which would be a very, very modest improvement.
“I do wonder whether this company knows that this is the 21st century. This is a classic case of a company that spouts long and hard about improving services but when push comes to shove it pushes things into the long grass and hopes we will forget it.”
Councillors agreed to write to GA’s chief executive expressing their dismay at the response.
Partnership chairman Ted Gadsden said his members had been disappointed at GA’s response, especially as the company had suggested the idea in the first place.
The present timing of the last train meant that theatre-goers and others enjoying a night out in Norwich sometimes had to leave events early. And anyone travelling from London had to catch the 8.30pm train from Liverpool Street in order to make the connection. An extra 15-20 minutes would mean they could leave London at 9pm.
In his letter to North Walsham Town Council, Jonathan Denby, GA’s head of corporate affairs, said Network Rail carried out overnight safety checks and maintenance and was unable to offer GA extended access at present. He added: “We will keep pursing this aim, but until Network Rail is in a position to approve a later service, we will be unable to alter the timings.”
■ What are your experiences of the Bittern Line service? Email firstname.lastname@example.org