Why Norwich needs a second railway station
- Credit: Archant
In recent years a number of cities have built new rail stations on their outskirts, either to provide a convenient park-and-ride access to mainline services or to help commuters and others reach business parks.
The latest – Cambridge North – opened a year ago primarily to serve the Cambridge Science Park and has consistently attracted more passengers than forecast, with numbers doubling in the first six months alone.
We believe that there is a good case for looking seriously at the possible benefits of building one or more new stations on the periphery of Norwich.
The reasons are two-fold. First, forcing drivers to come into the city centre to catch a train adds to the traffic on an already-overloaded road system and, for many people, increases the overall journey time.
Second, providing an alternative public transport route into the city would also benefit commuters and could help serve important commercial centres such as the Broadland Business Park.
The Norwich Society has responded to the recent consultation on transport carried out by the Greater Norwich Development Partnership, suggesting a full evaluation of the potential for new rail stations as part of the development of a long-term, coherent transport strategy to improve the current public transport system and cater for the future growth of the city.
We have suggested four possible sites for evaluation:
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Thickthorn – At the meeting point of the A47 and A11, Thickthorn is already home to the busiest road interchange on the approaches to Norwich. The junction is earmarked for improvement and any changes should take into consideration a possible park-and-ride rail interchange. This would probably require new parking facilities on the south side of the A11 adjacent to the rail line.
A station here would enable many people travelling to Peterborough (for destinations in the Midlands and the North) and Cambridge (for London, Stansted airport and, when it is complete, the new Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford line, as well as through trains to Gatwick airport and Brighton) to catch a train without having to drive into the city centre.
We have also suggested that the Norwich to Ely line should be electrified, which would then enable through trains to King's Cross that would only take a little longer than the current unreliable Liverpool Street service and, for many people, would arrive at a more convenient London location than Liverpool Street.
Dunston – Located fairly close to the existing park and ride at Harford Bridge but on the southern side of the A47 and east of the A140, this benefits from an existing road bridge over the train line which could be used for easy access to both platforms. The line serves Ipswich and London Liverpool Street, so would be a popular destination for many commuters. A station here could be accessed easily from the existing junction of the A47 and A140.
Dussindale - This possibly represents the most efficient location for a new station. The rail line runs between a large housing estate and one of Norwich's largest business parks. There is already a pedestrian bridge over the track, often one of the most costly parts of building a new station. This site has been mooted previously for a station by Norfolk County Council but to date no firm commitment has ever been made.
Postwick: A new road/rail interchange station at Postwick would also be relatively easy to build. The current line runs next to the existing park-and-ride facility, which has extensive parking and is sited on the newly completed Postwick junction that would connect it to both the A47 and new NDR. A bridge already exists spanning the track so all that is required is simply two platforms to allow passengers to board trains. The area is also served by footpaths and cycle lanes to the local business area.