Rural weekend bus route that was due to be scrapped could now be saved

A file photo of Diss bus station in Park Road

A file photo of Diss bus station in Park Road - Credit: Dominic Bareham

Talks are underway to save a bus service due to be scrapped in two weeks time.

Norfolk Coachways, provider of the Saturday-only NC1 return service from Attleborough to Diss, announced in January that the last day of service would be February 24.

The services connects the villages of Old Buckenham, New Buckenham, Banham, Quidenham, East Harling, North Lopham, South Lopham, Bressingham and Roydon with Attleborough and Diss.

But since Norfolk County Council, which funds the service, abandoned a decision to cut bus subsidies earlier this year, it is now looking at whether the route can be saved.

A spokesman for NCC said: 'Norfolk Coachways gave NCC notice that they will be ending the contract for the NC1 service, with the final service provided on February 24 2018.

'At the time of their decision we were facing £500,000 of budget cuts to bus subsidies and were unsure whether we would be able to replace the service. As these budget cuts did not go ahead, we have now been discussing the future of the service with Norfolk Coachways and other providers to see if we can identify a way that the service can continue.

'We are also looking to gain further information from current service users to better understand their needs in the area.'

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Brian Taylor, 83, from New Buckenham, said: 'A lot of residents in the villages rely on this bus service. It's more like a little community as a lot of people don't drive or own a car, so it's their way out on a weekend to meet people.'

Norfolk Coachways was not prepared to make a comment.

In an earlier statement, a spokesman for the firm said: 'It is with regret that we have to inform passengers on our Saturday service NC1 to Diss that we intend to cancel this service.

'This has not been an easy decision for us. Unfortunately even though the service has a core of loyal passengers travelling every week the ridership in general has been falling.

'Norfolk Coachways has effectively been subsidising this service for some time and would need to continue doing so into the foreseeable future which we are not prepared to do.'