New moves to restore lost bus link

A community campaign to restore Watton's direct bus link to London is set to be revived by town councillors.

The service was scrapped in 2006 when transport firm National Express merged its daily 495 and 496 services between Cromer and the capital because the routes were not making enough money to be viable.

One of the reasons given for the falling customer numbers was that US air force personnel based nearby at RAF Lakenheath and Mildenhall were no longer prepared to use public transport after the July 7 bombings in London in 2005.

Watton Town Council immediately tried to convince the company to reinstate the link but, despite handing its bosses a 600-name petition, it proved unsuccessful.

But councillors decided at a meeting this week to renew formal efforts to persuade National Express to consider reinstating the route.

Town councillor Barbara Anderson said: 'We have promised the town that we would get a conversation going to see if there is any way we can get this link restored. Whenever anyone asks me about buses in the town it is always about the loss of the London link.'

She added: 'We need to ask how often National Express scrutinises its routes and whether they know how many people from Watton use their services from Swaffham or Thetford. I know at least half a dozen people who either meet people at Swaffham or take people there to get a bus service to London.'

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A National Express spokesman said: 'We have no current plans to review coach services to Watton but will certainly consider suggestions submitted by the council. The service was withdrawn in 2006 due to lack of patronage and a decline in use from the military base.'

Mrs Anderson said she hoped to maintain the momentum of a public transport campaign which has already seen the development of localised routes like the Sunday Konectbus bus service to Norwich.