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Reader Letter: Direct rail routes from Norwich must be protected

PUBLISHED: 13:59 25 July 2017 | UPDATED: 13:59 25 July 2017

Norwich railway station Picture: Roger Grice

Norwich railway station Picture: Roger Grice

(c) copyright newzulu.com

Recently, the Department for Transport launched a public consultation on the East Midlands rail franchise.

This consultation includes the hourly Norwich-Liverpool service, which calls at Peterborough, Grantham, Nottingham, Chesterfield, Sheffield, Stockport, Manchester and Warrington. East Midlands Trains hold the current franchise until November 2018.

Firstly, the vexatious idea of dividing the Norwich-Liverpool route at either Nottingham or Sheffield appears once again. This appears to be driven by a desire for operational efficiency, or even the neatness of the franchise maps. While it can indeed be quicker to get from Norwich to Manchester or Liverpool travelling via London Liverpool Street, the Underground, and London Euston, it is very important that local rail users stand up for this direct service. Anyone who has less than 100pc mobility, or who travels with luggage or children will understand why direct routes that avoid London are worth protecting.

Secondly, and more positively, the document raises the possibility of reuniting the Norwich-Liverpool route with the Stansted-Cambridge-Birmingham route (currently operated by CrossCountry Trains) into the same franchise. The document also hints at the possibility of inter-working these two routes, perhaps such that alternate trains from Norwich serve stations towards Birmingham and Liverpool.

I believe that protecting the existing direct rail service to the north west and reinstating direct routes lost in the 1990s would be a great boost for rail users in Norwich and Norfolk. I would encourage your readers to read the consultation document online at http://bit.ly/east-midlands-consultation and send comments no later than October 11 2017.

James Benedict Brown, Norwich

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