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Pledge on Norwich in 90 and Ipswich in 60 as survey reveals concern about the plans

PUBLISHED: 08:30 26 October 2015 | UPDATED: 15:14 26 October 2015

Abellio trains and carriages at Crown point and Norwich Station. Photo : Steve Adams

Abellio trains and carriages at Crown point and Norwich Station. Photo : Steve Adams

Archant

Passengers using the region’s main train line remain unconvinced the faster services promised will be achieved, a survey has found.

Nearly three-quarters of people responding to our survey on train services in East Anglia said they did not believe the highly sought after “Norwich in 90” or “Ipswich in 60” services will be possible – despite the government making it a condition of the new franchise agreement.

The survey results were revealed after our five-part series of investigations looking into the performance of rail companies in this region. It was completed by 327 respondents – many of them daily rail users – and found barely a tenth of people were confident in its delivery, while a further 15pc were unsure. It comes just months after the government announced the companies shortlisted to run the next East Anglia rail franchise from October 2016. The Department for Transport said rival bidders would be expected to show how they could deliver the faster services.

People completing the survey were also generally dissatisfied with the current service. More than half said their trains were either “almost always” delayed or “regularly delayed”, while more than 50pc also described the price of train tickets as “very expensive”. Asked what they would most like to see improved on a train, the most popular response was “cleaner carriages”.

Abellio Greater Anglia, the region’s main train operator, said it recognised customers wanted improvements and was investing more than £36m in the current franchise to improve trains, performance, cleanliness and stations. “We are committed to continuing to play our full part in improving service standards,” a spokesman added.

David Sidebottom, passenger director at the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said passengers in East Anglia “want more punctual and frequent services and better-quality, more comfortable trains”. A DfT spokesman said: “Norwich in 90 and Ipswich in 60 are requirements that must be delivered by the new operator as a minimum. The vital improvements we are making will help boost economic growth in the region and beyond.”

Some of the online comments on last week’s train service series

Fat Controller: “It doesn’t matter which name you paint on the carriages, nothing changes for the better.” Harry Rabinowitz: “A complex and often baffling fare structure, clapped out and unreliable trains, the whole sorry mess should be renationalised!”

Old Boy: “East Anglia is the poor relation and needs money invested; not from the company allowed to run it for a few years but from government.”

Grey Fox: “To summarise: we are being ripped off. As I have commented on a number of occasions we are paying some of the highest fares in Europe for the worst and least reliable services.”

trevorwoolnough: “The big suckers here are the commuters. As I have said before, the only thing that would effectively improve this situation is to halve the fares; you would then get what you pay for.”

amsterdam81: “Still don’t understand the benefit to customers of privatisation especially when the East Coast example has shown how profitable the line could be in public hands.”

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