Norwich in 90 ready for May timetable – but only for a select few travellers
PUBLISHED: 17:16 01 February 2019 | UPDATED: 17:16 01 February 2019
Archant Norfolk 2015
Trains will be running between Norwich and London in 90 minutes from May – but only a tiny proportion of services will be that fast for the foreseeable future.
And there is no date planned for regular services to be that fast – only two trains a day in each direction will be that fast until there are further improvements to the track, especially the line nearer London.
Greater Anglia managing director Jamie Burles told the Great Eastern Main Line conference held in Ipswich that his company still needs to see major improvements from Network Rail before the majority of InterCity trains can do the journey in 90 minutes.
He said: “We still need those improvements before that can be the normal time for our journeys – but we know the trains will be able to run fast enough.”
Mr Burles said there had already been a “dummy run” with an existing InterCity train that would have comfortably made the trip in 90 minutes had it not been held by a signal at one point.
There will be more tests before the new timetable is introduced in May.
The conference heard that over the next 25 years there may need to be major new track-building to increase the capacity of the line in Suffolk and Essex if it is to cope with the expected growth in passenger numbers.
The Trowse swing bridge on the outskirts of Norwich may need to be replaced with a two-line bridge in the future – not to meet the needs of the main line to London, but to cope with increased traffic crossing it before heading west to Thetford and Ely.
But James Bradley from Network Rail said there could need to be extra tracks built between Shenfield and Chelmsford, Chelmsford and Witham, and south of Colchester in Essex and between Ipswich and Haughley junction, just north of Stowmarket.
The Essex lines could be necessary to cope with extra commuter trains while the new lines in Suffolk would be needed if there is a major increase in cross-country freight trains from Felixstowe.
Mr Burles added that new Swiss-built trains should have taken over InterCity and rural services by the end of this year – and a new through service from Lowestoft to London via the East Suffolk Line should be introduced in the May 2020 timetable.