Transport minister will be urged today not to scrap direct trains from Downham Market and King's Lynn
PUBLISHED: 06:00 03 March 2011
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A Norfolk MP will urge the transport minister to make sure direct trains from West Norfolk are not scrapped at a meeting today.
Elizabeth Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, will join members of the Fen Line Users Association in raising their concerns to Theresa Villiers over the Thameslink programme.
The £6bn project is aiming to provide more frequent, longer and brand new trains into and through London to reduce overcrowding.
The project will see new and improved stations as well as new track and improved signalling and could see trains go from King’s Lynn to as far away as Gatwick Airport from 2015. The project could also see two trains leaving West Norfolk train stations every hour.
But there are concerns that the improvement work could stop at Cambridge due to problems with power and platform size – leaving only a shuttle service to Downham Market and King’s Lynn.
Ms Truss said: “The Fen Line must not be shunted into a siding whilst other rail routes prosper from high speed links.
“I will be seeking assurances from the secretary of state that the through service from London to King’s Lynn will reap the benefits of the Thameslink programme.”
North East Cambridgeshire MP Stephen Barclay is also attending the meeting and has said the Department of Transport figures put the cost of extending the service to Kings Lynn at between £60m and £80m.
He said: “I am very concerned that, once again, investment in our transport infrastructure focuses on city to city transport and ignores the increased population growth in rural areas like north-east Cambridgeshire.
“It is very disappointing that local people who have paid through their taxes toward the cost of Thameslink should miss out on the direct link to London and Gatwick airport.”
Colin Sampson, chairman of the Fen Line Users Association, has said the organisation will work hard to make sure Fen Line users don’t lose the current “excellent service”.
The transport minister has previously stated it is “not anticipated” that the number of direct trains from King’s Lynn to London would change as a result of the programme.
The Department of Transport also confirmed this week that the number of direct trains would be “similar” to that passengers enjoy today.
But both Ms Truss and Mr Barclay said they were keen to keep pushing their case to ensure West Norfolk does not miss out.