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Train company defends record after two services cut short within a week

PUBLISHED: 16:51 09 August 2018 | UPDATED: 16:52 09 August 2018

A Greater Anglia Train travelling the Bittern Line into at West Runton.

Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

A Greater Anglia Train travelling the Bittern Line into at West Runton. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Archant Norfolk 2015

Greater Anglia has defended its record on a busy north Norfolk rail route after two services were cut short part-way through their journeys within the past week, leaving passengers stranded.

A Greater Anglia Train travelling the Bittern Line into Cromer station.

 Picture: MARK BULLIMOREA Greater Anglia Train travelling the Bittern Line into Cromer station. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

But North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb has called on the firm to explain what had happened, saying it had “fallen short” on a number of occasions.

The Norwich to Sheringham train - known as the Bittern Line - 2.45pm service on August 3 was terminated at Cromer, as was the 2.45pm service on August 7, which was also 31 minutes late.

Greater Anglia said the first incident was due to “waiting for a train crew member” and the second was “due to a speed restriction”.

Some passengers took to social media to express their frustration, with one tweeting from the August 7 train: “Service is getting ridiculous and stressful every time I get it.”

And another commented after travelling on the August 3 service: “Train home from Norwich to Sheringham was running late and terminated at Cromer leaving passengers who live in West Runton and Sheringham to make their own way home. Dreadful way to treat passengers!”

Some have also voiced concerns that the normally two-carriage train was regularly being reduced to one.

Mr Lamb said: “In north Norfolk there are quite a lot of elderly residents and if you are elderly and you are turned off the train short of your destination it can be quite alarming, particularly if it’s in the evening.

“We’re also in the middle of the peak tourist season and it’s important to the local economy that line works effectively. It’s a much-loved service and it’s critically important.”

Greater Anglia apologised to passengers who had encountered delays or disruption on the line, but said its annual performance on the route - a measure of trains arriving at their destinations within five minutes for commuter services and within 10 minutes for long distance (Intercity) services, stood at 92.7pc.

A spokesperson said this made it one of the most punctual routes in East Anglia.

The spokesperson said: “The decision to terminate a train earlier than its destination is never taken lightly and is made simply to prevent further delays, affecting many more passengers over a longer period of time, which would be the case otherwise - especially on a line where the single track section north of North Walsham makes it more difficult to restore punctual running.”

The Bittern Line: New trains on the way

The rail company said that “on the rare occasions” a train did not fulfil its journey, arrangements were made for passengers to continue by bus or taxi to make sure no-one was stranded.

The spokesperson continued: “Sometimes trains may run with fewer carriages than scheduled if short notice faults or other problems on the network have knock-on effects. We aim to minimise these problems and we are investing over £5m to improve the performance of our current fleet and make our trains more reliable and comfortable for our customers. Network Rail is also working hard to improve the reliability of the rail infrastructure.”

Greater Anglia is planning to replace its aging fleet with new trains from summer next year, and has promised the next generation of Bittern Line machines would be a minimum of three carriages long.

The spokesperson said: “As well as offering more seating capacity, the new trains will be more reliable and provide greater service consistency and resilience.”

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