Bus firm battles back to normal after Dereham traffic chaos

One of Norfolk's busiest bus operators today thanked passengers and paid tribute to its drivers after yesterday's traffic gridlock in and around Dereham.

Services run by Konectbus, which serves towns and villages between Norwich, King's Lynn, Attleborough and Fakenham, were extensively disrupted as a combination of road crashes, roadworks and even a fallen tree created what its operations manager, Steve Royal, said had turned into a 'nightmare' situation for travellers.

Today, things were getting back to normal for the firm - though Mr Royal said the firm's drivers were having to negotiate icy roads instead.

There were Friday morning market day problems after a 9.30am crash in the A47/A1075 South Green junction area, on Dereham's outskirts.

Later, long tailbacks grew after a 3.30pm bypass crash that again led to tailbacks on the A47 and meant hundreds of motorists trying to seek a detour through the centre of Dereham - where part of Wellington Road was already closed because of roadworks.

Traffic in much of Dereham was at a standstill for some time, and shoppers and bus passengers were stranded at the Tesco and Lidl stores' car parks unable to get out on to the main roads in the late afternoon and early evening.

Mr Royal said the usual fleet of 45 buses would have been out for the school run and commuter services, up to 20 of them in the Dereham area. When the problems started, Konectbus tried to draft in extra vehicles, but they could not get out of their base on the town's Rash's Green Industrial Estate because of the gridlock.

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'We had delays because of that, and the knock-on effects, of up to 90 minutes,' he said.

'The whole thing was a nightmare, and it didn't help that Wellington Road was closed.

'It was one of the worst days I can remember lately.'

Mr Royal said separate incidents in the Norwich area, including a fallen tree, had caused further delays. But he said passengers had been very understanding.

'Obviously from their point of view we are very grateful that they were so thoughtful. More importantly, I would like to thank our staff, because they were the ones on the front line and making quick decisions, and sometimes that is forgotten,' he added.

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