Greater Anglia sorry after Norwich in 90 services hit by weeks of delays
PUBLISHED: 13:27 25 November 2019 | UPDATED: 16:15 25 November 2019
It was hailed a "massive win for the region", but passengers on the lauded Norwich in 90 trains face frequent delays and cancellations on the flagship service.
Crowds line platform 2B at Norwich railway station on Monday morning waiting for the 9am train to London.
The Greater Anglia service is the fastest route to the capital - it should take only 90 minutes.
But as the 9.03am service to London on platform 4 - which takes almost two hours - leaves on time, the train at platform 2B still sits at the station.
Figures reported by BBC Radio Norfolk show that the 90-minute services to and from London is frequently late or cancelled.
The numbers are backed up by research carried out by this newspaper over the last few weeks.
None of the 62, 7pm London to Norwich services arrived on time in the past three months.
Meanwhile the 11am service from London had the worst reliability rate over the same period, with three in 10 trains cancelled.
The 90-minute trains, which run from Norwich at 9am and 5pm and from London at 11am and 7pm, launched in May to much fanfare.
But Greater Anglia admitted that the new service has not got off to the most reliable start.
It said to tackle the delays it was adjusting the schedule in December to give the 90-minute service a clearer run and introducing new, faster trains on the line.
A spokesman said: "We apologise to passengers who have been delayed.
"The current Norwich in 90 services were timetabled around existing services, as it was important for the region that we introduced these new services on schedule, in May 2019, as promised.
"The Norwich in 90 services are already proving very popular and good for the region and we are focused on ensuring we deliver improved and more consistent performance."
They also said that 84pc of the trains did arrive within 10 minutes, with many of the delayed trains only being slightly late.
The launch of the Norwich in 90 service - which shaved 12 minutes off the previous fastest journey time between Norfolk and the capital - came after a nine-year campaign.
But with readers telling of their experiences of frequently delayed trains, this newspaper has spent the last two weeks monitoring each 90-minute service.
From November 11 to 22, the 9am service ran on time just twice between Monday and Friday, while it was delayed by nearly 30 minutes on two occasions.
Just two of the 7pm services ran on time in the same time period, while two were cancelled and the remaining were delayed between five and 30 minutes.
Every 11am and 5pm service between Monday and Friday last week were delayed by between two and 39 minutes.
Meanwhile, other Greater Anglia services were also hit by delays and cancellations in that time period.
On Thursday, November 14, there were three consecutive services from London to Norwich that were cancelled between 12pm and 1pm.
Passengers say delays and cancellations can cause major disruption when trying to catch a connecting train.
On the 9.03am train on Monday, Jane Twose, 72, is on an eight-hour journey to Penzance in Cornwall and needs to catch a second train from London.
"If I have a delay I am stuffed," she said. "It's very crucial the train runs on time."
Passenger Jane Page, 64, said: "It only takes one delay somewhere for everywhere to be delayed."
A 21-year-old passenger, who did not want to be named, said she had to catch three trains to get to Braintree, with only a couple of minutes between each station to make her connection.
"It works out so much cheaper travelling by train," she said. "I have no clue how long I'd have to wait if I missed the train, but I don't normally have a problem when I travel."
Film and English student Ellena Jansen, 21, who lives near the University of East Anglia, said she has had to take late buses due to train delays.
"One time the train was delayed by half an hour and we ended up getting on another train," she said. "I got home two hours late."
Going in the opposite direction on the delayed 9.08am train from Ipswich to Norwich - which ran 12 minutes late - Shaun Whittemore, 28, said: "The delay doesn't bother me, my girlfriend has missed her train in Yarmouth anyway so I have to wait 45 minutes for her."