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Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, and Graham Plant, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for planning and transportation, with the draft Rail Prospectus, an emerging blueprint for future rail improvements. Picture: Denise Bradley
Friday, October 5, 2012
The prospect of new train stations on the outskirts of Norwich was raised at the launch of a blueprint pressing for desperately-needed improvements to Norfolk’s railways.
The draft Norfolk Rail Prospectus, first revealed by the Norwich Evening News yesterday, has been drawn up to make the case to the government and the rail industry that Norfolk deserves investment.
The blueprint was officially unveiled yesterday, with MPs and councillors calling for crucial track upgrades, faster trains, new stations and more frequent services.
While speeding up trains between Norwich and London is named as the top priority, the document also touches on the possibility of new stations at Broadland Business Park, Postwick and Rackheath.
It states: “The county council has adopted an implementation plan for transport in the Norwich area. This includes new stations at Postwick and at Broadland Business Park, both in the east of Norwich on the Wherry and Bittern lines respectively. These are both medium-term aims.
“On the Bittern Line, a new station has been proposed by developers, in association with new housing at Rackheath.
“Whilst the county council is sympathetic to this proposition, current timings of the train service do not allow for an extra stop on this line.
“If it were to be progressed, it would have to be done so in conjunction with either closure of one of the existing stations or a radical change to the line such as the introduction of tram-train.”
Chloe Smith, Norwich North MP, who has spearheaded the campaign for better train services, told those at the launch, at the King’s Centre in the city’s King Street, that there was no reason to allow the cancellation of the award of a franchise on the West Coast line to stop Norfolk making its voice heard.
While the award of three other rail franchises has been put on “pause” by the government, Miss Smith said rail minister Simon Burns had assured her the timetable for the East Anglian franchises remained on track.
The prospectus includes calls for trains which get from Norwich to London in 90 minutes; more frequent services across the network; new stations at Postwick, Broadland Business Park and possibly at Rackheath; the electrification of Norwich to Cambridge, Bittern and Wherry Lines; longer trains between Norwich and Sheringham at peak times and new or fully refurbished train carriages.
Miss Smith said: “It is vital that we use today to reconfirm the rail priorities that we know will give us in Norfolk the economic success that we seek.”
The prospectus will now be consulted on and is due to be approved by Norfolk County Council in the new year.
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