More bus cuts planned

Elderly passengers have been warned of more transport misery ahead as a bus company is to discontinue more key services across Norfolk.Operator First Eastern announced earlier this month the restructuring of its Xcel services which meant that their X3 connections between Norwich and Watton via Attleborough and the X4 between Norwich and Thetford via Attleborough would be discontinued from October 28th.

Elderly passengers have been warned of more transport misery ahead as a bus company is to discontinue more key services across Norfolk.

Operator First Eastern announced earlier this month the restructuring of its Xcel services, which meant that its X3 connections between Norwich and Watton via Attleborough and the X4 between Norwich and Thetford via Attleborough would be discontinued from October 28.

And last night the company confirmed further cuts which will effectively cancel the 56, 56A and 56B services from Norwich to Fakenham from the same date.

However, a spokesman for First Eastern insisted the operator would retain the section of route between Norwich and Taverham, which will be re-numbered as the service 29.

"We recognise that a large number of our users are elderly people," he said. "However, we reviewed the service lately and found that there are not enough passengers to justify the service. We will be issuing our new timetable soon and will advise our customers to check it regularly."

Following the announcement, a spokesman for Norfolk County Council confirmed that the 56 route would be discontinued. But he insisted that the authority would step in to plug the gap by putting the service out to tender as it qualifies to continue to operate under its subsidy guidelines.

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"We have received several expressions of interest from bus operators and hope to be able to make our decision known in the next few weeks," he said.

Meanwhile residents in Hockering, near Dereham, have also been complaining about the First Eastern X1 bus service through the village to Norwich.

In a letter to the Eastern Daily

Press, Penny Hawker, Hockering parish clerk, said: "Earlier this month it was impossible to board a bus to Norwich until 10am. The bus drivers were unsympathetic and said it is due to the number of concessions available.

"The buses are consequently full before getting to Hockering and

don't even bother to drive through

the village. Travellers say they

have reported the problem to First Eastern, who only blame Norfolk County Council for their lack of support."

Replying to the complaint, the NCC spokesman said the problems experienced by Hockering residents were caused by recent works which led to delays on the roads.

"There have been problems on

the roads outside of Norfolk which have affected the reliability of the

X1 service," he said. "Roadwork schemes in Lowestoft and Cambridgeshire have led to delays. However, these are easing, and eight out of 10 services are now arriving on time."

Anyone encountering problems on the First Eastern services have been asked to contact the company's helpline on 0845 6020121.

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