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Maurice Page, from Gimingham, is unhappy with the Norwich to Sheringham train service after the Norwich City matches on a Saturday.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Norwich fan’s anger over cramped Bittern Line trains

Thursday, January 31, 2013
10.09 AM

A Canaries fan has hit out at a well-used Norwich to Sheringham train service saying passengers are “cramped on so tight we are worse then lambs going to the slaughter”.

Maurice Page, 51, a mental health worker from Gimingham, near Cromer, usually catches the 12.15pm North Walsham to Norwich train with his 16-year-old daughter, friend and his son for Saturday home matches and returns on the 5.45pm service.

The train only has two carriages and Mr Page said he has concerns about the number of people on the 5.45pm journey, which includes the elderly, young mothers with buggies and children, shoppers, workers and football fans, many of whom have to stand.

Mr Page said: “You are huddled on it like cattle. You end up standing in the centre of the aisle and cannot twist or turn. You have elderly people on the train and people cannot get up to let them sit down because they are so cramped. It is absolutely horrendous.”

He added when the service is at the point of “bursting” conductors – who usually cannot get down the aisles to give out or collect tickets – continued to direct people on the train.

“Health and safety is non-existent on this train. It is a disaster waiting to happen,” Mr Page said.

Politicians, business groups, rail operators and passengers from across Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire have joined together today for a one-day East Anglian Rail Summit at Westminster, chaired by Norwich North MP Chloe Smith.

All of the work is aiming to put pressure on Network Rail ahead of its February 19 consultation deadline for its Strategic Business Plan for 2014-19.

The Bittern Line, operated by Greater Anglia, is included in the same franchise as the Norwich to London Liverpool Street service, which expires in July 2014.

Rural priorities included reducing the journey times between Norwich and Sheringham by five minutes, to 53 minutes.

A longer-term aim of increasing frequency to half-hourly, initially to North Walsham on the Bittern Line, is another goal.

Norfolk County Council published its priorities for the Bittern Line and Wherry Line service to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft ahead of the summit, which included new or fully-refurbished trains and longer trains for peak times.

A Greater Anglia spokesman said: “Trains on the Sheringham line are very busy on Norwich City home match days and we monitor the numbers of passengers boarding the trains very closely and do not compromise any safety requirements.

“We have additional staff at Norwich station on match days to assist customers with their ticket purchases and to help manage queues in an orderly manner.

“We are always happy to listen to customer feedback and we will continue to monitor the 5.45pm service.”