Faster Norwich train campaign launched
Kim BriscoeNorwich is 'desperate' for better train services but this can be achieved if fed up passengers get behind a new rail campaign.Kim Briscoe
Norwich is 'desperate' for better train services but this can be achieved if fed up passengers get behind a new rail campaign.
That was the resounding message as Norfolk and Norwich's most powerful people teamed up to lobby hard for improvements to the county's railways and in particular for the Norwich to London line.
Members of the public are being told their voices are just as important in persuading the government to fork out for the infrastructure needed to deliver faster and better trains to the capital.
Brian Morrey, city council executive member for sustainable city development, said: 'This is a desperate need. About 10 to 12 years ago there used to be an hour and a half train to London - one in the morning and one in the evening, but that got scrapped for some reason.
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'It is possible without massive investment, but we do need investment as they are not the smartest or most comfortable of trains.'
A campaign and petition was launched at Norwich Train Station yesterday, calling for faster, more reliable rail services to be built into the new Greater Anglia rail franchise when National Express East Anglia gives way to a new operator.
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The Norwich in 90 campaign, which is backed by MPs councils and business leaders, is calling for the 115 mile journey from London to Norwich to be cut from its current time of 1hr 50mins to 1hr 30mins.
Birmingham is similar in distance (118 miles) but can be reached from London in only 1hr 23mins, while trains can cover the 180 miles to York in only nine minutes longer (1hr 59 mins) than it takes to get to Norwich.
Mike Burrows, deputy chairman Shaping Norfolk's Future, said: 'The A11 campaign proved that we can influence government decisions and it is really important that Norfolk isn't seen as a backwater with a second class or even third class rail service.'
Neil Darwin, from Regional Cities East, added that it was important the petition was signed and supported by individuals and members of the public, rather than just 'policy makers' and businesses.
A better and faster rail service could also bring a welcome boost to the city's tourism industry.
Ian Hacon, chief executive of Blue Sky Leisure and Tourism Norfolk Chamber of Commerce board director, said: 'It would make Norwich a very credible day trip destination. It's a great city with a great heritage and it can compete with the likes of York and other beautiful cities.'
Other improvements called for in the campaign include more train capacity, new comfortable trains with wi-fi service as well as better car parking and improvements at stations.
A spokesman for Network Rail, which is responsible for the track infrastructure, said the company was committed to improving the region's railways and would be investing more than �1bn in the region over the next five years.
The petition can be signed online at www.gopetition.com/petitions/norwich-in-ninety.html.
Are you supporting the campaign? If so email your comments to reporter Kim Briscoe at firstname.lastname@example.org.