County council to write directly to transport secretary over Norwich to Liverpool links

Liverpool Feature.Pictured: Mersey Ferry at the Albert Dock There's no better way to experience Live

Liverpool Feature.Pictured: Mersey Ferry at the Albert Dock There's no better way to experience Liverpool & Merseyside than from the deck of the famous Mersey Ferry CREDIT: The Mersey Partnership For: Stacia Briggs

County councillors are to write directly to the government as they look to safeguard Norwich's ticket to ride to the birth place of the Fab Four.

Beatles at the Grosvenor in 1963 staff pic een 10/2/02

Beatles at the Grosvenor in 1963 staff pic een 10/2/02 - Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

With the Department for Transport currently mulling over its options for the next East Midlands rail franchise, the direct rail service between Norwich and Liverpool Lime Street has come into doubt.

While nothing is yet set in stone, questions were raised over the service in a government consultation over the rail franchise, with one suggestion being that the service could be split in either Nottingham or Sheffield.

This has prompted Norfolk County Council's environment, development and transport committee to compose a letter to transport secretary Chris Grayling, emphasising how important it considers the service.

If the draft letter's wording is approved by members at a meeting of the committee on Friday, it will describe the service as 'a vital direct link between East Anglia and the north and north-west'.

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It says: 'We consider the withdrawal of a direct service would be a threat to the county's economy.

'It will risk isolating Norfolk from the growth potential to be brought by government's investment in high speed rail connections to the north of England.

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'The existing direct connection is well-used by travellers including business people, students and leisure travellers. Changing trains would be a disincentive for people to use rail as it would be less convenient and would add to time taken for journeys.'

Committee chairman Martin Wilby will send the letter on behalf of the entire committee, which has members from all three main parties, as well as one independent member.

The council's calls have been echoed by campaign group Rail Future, which lobbies for improvements to rail services nationwide.

Chris Burton, spokesman for Rail Future, said: 'Our feeling is that the route should remain a direct link, but that the service needs dramatically speeding up.

'It is a vital service for Norwich - the city needs to be connected and this route also serves many other cities and universities.

'I do think it does need greater passenger space and locomotives with faster acceleration though.'

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