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Outrage over plans to push back junction upgrade which could delay promise of twice-hourly Lynn to London train service

PUBLISHED: 06:30 28 November 2015 | UPDATED: 15:48 30 November 2015

Councillor Brian Long. Picture Matthew Usher.

Councillor Brian Long. Picture Matthew Usher.

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A council leader has said it was time to “start making some noise” after it was announced this week a twice-hourly service from King’s Lynn to London could be delayed to await a major junction upgrade.

Network Rail made public it planned to push back a £35 million project to improve the Ely North Junction - described as the key to more frequent services - to at least 2019.

Work was originally due to start at the junction next year and would be vital if there are to be more services between Norwich and Cambridge.

At a West Norfolk Council meeting on Thursday council leader Nick Daubney said to improve infrastructure you had to ensure a better train service.

“I think we need to be really angry. There is a lot of pressure to grow and develop. We want more opportunity for our young people, we want better jobs.

“I don’t think this is acceptable, this keeps being shunted down the line. It’s too important and we should start making some noise about it.”

Brian Long, cabinet member for environment, said they would combine forces with MPs to lobby the issue and “force Network Rail’s hand”.

He added: “We are bitterly disappointed that this has been put back. For the growth we want in King’s Lynn, we need the infrastructure. And the half-hourly service between Lynn and London is critical for it.”

However, MPs from Norfolk and Cambridgeshire met the Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin, who told them he thought extra services could still be brought in without the upgrade to Ely, and he would let them know by December 10 when the services were likely to start.

Abbie Panks, Vancouver Quarter Centre manager, said: “There’s no doubt that half-hourly services to and from King’s Lynn will have an impact on our retailers and the town centre as a whole.

“I’d urge those who have campaigned so hard for this upgrade over the years to continue to fight the fight.”

Rail users in King’s Lynn voiced their concern at the possibility of waiting longer for the improved service.

Geoffrey Shiers, 73 of North Wootton, said: “King’s Lynn is not being properly served, it’s a great community with lots of people moving into the area. The service needs to be at the level that meets the town. The hourly service is quite inadequate.”

Patrick O’Flaherty, 84 of Wisbech, said: “We would like a half-hourly service, the area has been run down for years. It’s necessary. It must be terrible to wait for the trains, they have got to because they have no choice.”

His wife Iris, 76, added: “When you see on the television programmes showing other countries and the kind of railway service they get you think we are a long way behind.”

Stuart Hunt, 37, is a chef living in King’s Lynn, he said people would think twice about using the train if they were faced with a poor service.

Judith Reynolds, 58, lives in King’s Lynn and works at the Corn Exchange, she said: “It would be very helpful and good to have for the town. I used to live in Downham Market and if you happened to miss it by a minute you would have to wait a whole hour. It means you can’t really rely on it for work.”

Do you have a story about the train network? Email sophie.biddle@archant.co.uk

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