April Fool! Giant new rail hub could be built at Swainsthorpe to achieve dream of ‘Norwich in 90’
PUBLISHED: 12:05 01 April 2016 | UPDATED: 19:38 01 April 2016
A gigantic new rail hub could be built at Swainsthorpe – to enable the dream of Norwich in 90 to be achieved, the Norwich Evening News can reveal today.
Norwich Thorpe terminal will still exist, but the crucial new Swainsthorpe-by-Norwich station, complete with six platforms and parking for hundreds of cars, will mean the ‘90’-minute target can be achieved by ‘stealth of track’.
New three-carriage shuttles will race the six miles from the city centre to Swainsthorpe where they will couple direct with awaiting trains.
Those six miles are crucial to achieve the Norwich in 90 – it will provide the critical five-minute reduction in journey time that campaigners have been struggling to find.
Meanwhile, there will be a helipad for magnates to drop straight in to Swainsthorpe where an escalator will sweep them straight into first class – where they will get free WiFi and a complimentary copy of the Norwich Evening News.
The whole complex will rival the Channel Tunnel railhead in Kent and will cost an estimated £1bn.
Existing loco names will be kept but the pioneer of new railheads, Dr Olaf Pirol will have one especially named after him.
Diss had been considered for the initiative but ‘Diss in 85’ was deemed not to have the ring of Norwich in 90, so was Diss-missed.
John Fuller, leader of South Norfolk council said: “We needed to think about a more radical solution so more people could benefit.
“On the basis that Ryanair gets away with describing Oslo Airport as Oslo when in fact it is 40 miles away, we concluded the most sensible approach was to move Norwich closer to London.”
Critics have accused those who pledged to deliver Norwich in 90 of cheating, but campaigners said the long-standing problem of Trowse swing bridge being just single track meant it simply could not happen.
They admitted the Swainsthorpe solution was a compromise but that the devolution deal for Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire had given them the opportunity to apply for funding from a government pot of cash specifically set aside for major infrastructure projects. The Thorpe terminal will no longer operate trains directly to London, raising fears for its future. But rail bosses have moved quickly to quell concerns, announcing ambitious long-term plans to forge a new route connecting Norwich to Amsterdam. However, that would require the construction of a 100-mile plus tunnel underneath the North Sea. Rail chiefs have started a Crowdfunding campaign to raise the money for the scheme and have lodged a planning application with Norfolk County Council.
Do you think Swainsthorpe will be able to cope as the new Norwich in 90 rail hub? Email newsdesk @archant.co.uk