December 6 2013 Latest news:
Alex Hurrell, Reporter
Saturday, July 13, 2013
A state-of-the art ticket machine has been installed at north Norfolk’s busiest railway station as passenger numbers continue to climb.
The £26,000 machine at North Walsham station will help travellers on the spot - and save many a 40-mile round trip to collect booked tickets.
Its arrival means that, for the first time, passengers can buy their train tickets before they travel.
But it also allows North Walsham residents booking any rail journey on-line to nip down and collect their tickets locally, rather than waiting for them to arrive by post, or travelling all the way to Norwich to fetch them.
Jonathan Denby, head of corporate affairs for rail operators Greater Anglia, said the machine’s arrival followed requests from passengers.
It was part of a series of improvements at North Walsham, the busiest station - apart from Norwich - on the Norwich to Sheringham Bittern Line.
Since the Bittern Line Community Rail Partnership had been set up in 1996, Mr Denby said passenger numbers on the line had tripled, from 200,000 pa to more than 600,000.
Students at Paston Sixth-Form College, based in North Walsham, are among major users of the station and the college adjusted its start time to coincide with the Bittern Line timetable.
About two years ago a “station travel plan” project had been launched at North Walsham to make the station more appealing to users and to boost passenger numbers, said Mr Denby.
Improvements, had included a cycle shelter, better information screens and lighting, a new passenger shelter and revamp of the existing ones.
“Now this ticket machine is going to make rail journeys very much more convenient. It’s another big step forward,” he added.
North Walsham, “a particularly pivotal station,” according to Mr Denby, is the only one in Norfolk to benefit from a new machine.
Greater Anglia has installed others in Suffolk: at Beccles, Saxmundham and Woodbridge, between Ipswich and Lowestoft.
North Walsham Mayor Jacqueline Belson welcomed the new ticket machine: “It’s a significant improvement to North Walsham station which is a vital link for students, working people and shoppers,” she said.
The machine was part-funded by Norfolk County Council and the Designated Community Rail Development Fund.