‘Almost daily’ train cancellations damaging Great Yarmouth, councillors claim

A train on the Reedham to Great Yarmouth line passing through the open marshes near Breydon Water. P

A train on the Reedham to Great Yarmouth line passing through the open marshes near Breydon Water. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

The 'almost daily' cancellation of early morning train services between Norwich and Great Yarmouth is damaging the seaside town, councillors have claimed.

Norfolk county councillor Mick Castle. Picture by James Bass

Norfolk county councillor Mick Castle. Picture by James Bass - Credit: Archant

Norfolk County Council is to take up the issue with train operator Greater Anglia, saying 'it's not good enough'.

Mick Castle, independent councillor for Yarmouth North and Central, told a meeting of the council's environment, development and transport committee, that: 'The almost daily cancellation of early morning trains on the Great Yarmouth to Norwich line undermines passenger confidence and reflects adversely on the town as a place to do business.

'One of the things we've found is, over the past five years, that passenger numbers out of Great Yarmouth have fallen.

'They've fallen only slightly, but that's against increases in passenger numbers in the rest of the county.

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'I am absolutely convinced the reliability of those services is having an impact.

'There's no point spending money on improving the station if the trains are letting us down.'

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Conservative committee chairman Martin Wilby agreed it was 'disappointing and unacceptable' for services to be routinely cancelled and said: 'It's not good enough.

'I have asked officers to take this up with Greater Anglia to give an understanding about how often trains have been cancelled, and the reasons for any cancellations.'

A Greater Anglia spokesperson said: 'Just over 91 per cent of services on the Norwich to Great Yarmouth line run on time.

'However, we, along with Network Rail, are investing in rail services on this line, to make them even more reliable. Network Rail is modernising signalling along the line in a £68m scheme and we are replacing all of our existing trains with brand new longer trains with more seats, air conditioning, wifi and plug/USB points.

'We want all passengers to have a good experience when travelling with us and we are sorry when trains are cancelled or delayed.'

Greater Anglia says 28pc of delays or cancellations on its network are due to them, 62pc due to Network Rail and 10pc due to other train companies, such as freight.

Mr Castle added he wanted to see Yarmouth become a terminus for longer-distance cross country journeys to Cambridge and Stansted Airport.

But Mr Wilby said that was not in the government's franchise specification, so it was 'unlikely' that could be achieved in the current franchise period, which runs until 2025.

Mr Castle said the council should keep making the case for such services.

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