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Council’s push to use ‘rail, buses and bikes’ ignores their cost and unreliability

PUBLISHED: 08:44 06 March 2020 | UPDATED: 08:44 06 March 2020

The First Direct X1 bus on its daily commute. PHOTO: Matthew Usher

The First Direct X1 bus on its daily commute. PHOTO: Matthew Usher

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A council’s focus on walking, cycling and public transport ignores the cost and unreliability of trains and buses, according to frustrated responses to a consultation on local transport.

One of numerous replacement buses from Great Yarmouth train station. Picture: Jacob MasseyOne of numerous replacement buses from Great Yarmouth train station. Picture: Jacob Massey

The Great Yarmouth Transport Strategy report - written by the Borough Council and Norfolk County Council - is intended to provide "a pipeline of possible transport schemes" to be introduced when funding becomes available.

But proposals concentrate mainly on the short-term development of cycle and pedestrian routes and improving the frequency of bus and train services - with private motorists suggesting their needs are "being ignored" and that little is being done to help attract footfall in Great Yarmouth's town centre.

Many of the most sought-after measures for commuters, such as the dualling of the Acle Straight, are expected to be delievered by 2030, with the infrastructure and development select committee suggesting Highways England is "not fit for purpose", does not understand "Norfolk's issues" and "must be held to account".

But consultation responses from both the public and stakeholders showed that not everyone is happy with the timescale of the plans.

There are frequent delays and cancellations on trains between Great Yarmouth and Norwich. Picture: Sonya BrownThere are frequent delays and cancellations on trains between Great Yarmouth and Norwich. Picture: Sonya Brown

Answers stressed that the "dualling of the A47 Acle Straight needs to be a priority", that bus prices must be reduced and that high parking charges need reassessment to stop the death of the town centre - rather than fixating on unreliable public transport options.

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Already this year, First Bus's decision to end return fares on coastal routes was deemed "discriminatory" and "unfair" by locals.

As part of this grievance, a recurring theme in the responses was isolation both within and between Great Yarmouth and the rest of Norfolk - with Norwich getting a particular mention.

One response suggested that "sending four of the X1 buses through Filby, Stokesby, Runham and Fleggburgh will give a good bus service to a large part of the rural area", and that "a summer bus service from Hemsby beach to Norwich via the rail station should join the X1 and X11 at good frequency".

It was also highlighted that Caister suffers from an acute lack of bus services altogether, and that a similar problem besets Gorleston during the weekend.

Another pointed out that there is "no cycle route between Great Yarmouth and Norwich", and that the frequency of Greater Anglia trains between the two areas is poor.

One comment even asked that "travel by boat or ship" be considered, given that this would have "a positive impact upon the town".

The report will be discussed in detail at the infrastructure and development select committee meeting on March 11 in County Hall, Norwich.


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