Commuters and business leaders welcome new Norwich in 90 train service
- Credit: Archant
The fastest ever train service between Norwich and London has been welcomed by commuters and business leaders at its launch today.
Train operator Greater Anglia has introduced four extra services between Norwich, Ipswich and London Liverpool Street with a total journey time of 90 minutes.
At the launch on Monday, the company achieved its target, arriving in London within 88 minutes and returning to Norwich in 90.
Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia's managing director, said achieving Norwich in 90 was a "big step" in the transformation of the region's railway.
The new service is initially being run on the company's existing trains, but will eventually switch to its new fleet.
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Mr Burles said those new the trains will be "drip fed" into service this summer.
He added: "As customers speed through East Anglia into London they'll be able to enjoy longer trains, with more seats, USB and plug points, WiFi, better passenger information and improved journey times."
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Trains depart from Norwich at 9am and 5pm, calling at Ipswich at 9.33am and 5.33pm, and London Liverpool Street at 11am and 7pm, calling at Ipswich at 11.55am and 7.57pm, Monday to Saturday.
The new service shaves 12 minutes off the current fastest journey time between Norwich and the capital, and four minutes off the journey between Ipswich and London.
At the launch on Monday, Greater Anglia's head of corporate affairs, Jonathan Denby, said the service set a new record for the fastest journey time between London and Ipswich at 51 minutes and 46 seconds.
Businesses and politicians in East Anglia have been making the case for faster journey times for a decade.
Chris Starkie, managing director of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: "Norfolk and Suffolk is one of the fastest growing regions in the country and it needs high quality rail infrastructure to support growth and to help businesses compete in global markets."
Once the new trains are introduced, Greater Anglia said its timetable will be optimised to reduce journey times on other services.
Commuters welcomed the new faster services, but said reliability was still a key issue.
James Hunter, head of Mills and Reeve's Norwich office, said: "It's great that it's a faster service, but what you need above everything else is predictability.
"We need to know which train to catch if we have a meeting at midday.
"What is unhelpful is when you have to catch a train that is too early just to factor in any unreliability."
David Bickell, 70, from Beccles, said: "There is a definite need to bring Norwich closer to London in terms of journey time and if they can sustain that journey time, it will be great.
"But these schedules are very tight and they rely on the trains running ahead to not be delayed."
Chris Sargisson, chief executive of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, said the launch of the faster service was "momentous".
He said: "We are now 90 minutes away [from London] on one of the most efficient transportation systems around and it is just a big bonus for us when we are looking to support the region's business."