Five new trains for King's Lynn line

CHRIS BISHOP Five new trains and extra services creating more than 4,000 extra seats a day will be operating on the King's Lynn/King's Cross rail line from next year.

CHRIS BISHOP

Five new trains and extra services creating more than 4,000 extra seats a day will be operating on the King's Lynn/King's Cross rail line from next year.

Rail firm First Capital Connect said there would be longer trains with more carriages operating to ease overcrowding at peak periods between Lynn and London.

Earlier this week transport secretary Ruth Kelly pledged to increase capacity on the key Lynn/King's Cross line which has become one of the busiest routes from East Anglia to the capital.

It came in a white paper outlining a package of improvements to the rail network to cope with an expected 20pc growth in demand by 2015.

Watchdogs say overcrowding is the commonest complaint from passengers on the 98-minute journey from Lynn to London, which includes Downham Market, Ely and Cambridge.

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Trains usually start out with four or eight coaches at King's Lynn, but this will be increased to 12 carriages from Cambridge at peak times, after new rolling stock arrives towards the middle of next year.

Last night First's spokesman Robert Beahan said: "It's a major issue for us and our customers. Some of the peak time trains are very overcrowded and it's something we're determined to do something about."

Mr Beahan said an extra 1,782 seats would be available on morning peak services between Lynn and London and an extra 2,493 on trains returning during the evening peak.

Guy Dangerfield, passenger link manager for East Anglia with rail watchdog Passenger Focus, said the extra seats would improve return journeys from London to Lynn.

"People who get on at Lynn in the morning are getting on to empty trains, but on the way home they are fighting for seats with people going to Cambridge and everywhere else," he said. "The extra seats will have a positive affect for people travelling to Lynn"

A report by estate agents Savills said the London commuter belt now stretched north to Lynn and the number of Londoners "exporting their equity" to live in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk was increasing by almost 10pc a year.

It said house prices were now rising faster in towns which were 80 to 120 minutes' commute from London, such as Ely and Lynn, than those within the traditional Home Counties commuter belt.

It believes the trend will continue, with the boundaries of commuterland pushed further by improvements to the rail network, such as the £5.5bn Thameslink scheme which will enable passengers to travel direct from Lynn to Brighton and other destinations on the South Coast without changing trains.

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