Rail minister meets Aviva staff in Norwich to talk about strained rail services

Claire Perry and Chloe Smith with Aviva staff at Aviva, where they discussed problems on the rail. P

Claire Perry and Chloe Smith with Aviva staff at Aviva, where they discussed problems on the rail. Picture: John Franklin - Credit: Archant

Train services in the region have not been delivered as well as they should have been, the rail minister has said.

Claire Perry and Norwich North MP Chloe Smith met staff from Aviva last night to listen to their frustrations with strained Abellio Greater Anglia services and hear their hopes for the Norwich in 90 campaign.

The minister said concerns over reliability, crowding and comfort topped the list and admitted that rail infrastructure had not been 'up to scratch'.

'This needs to be an opportunity for people to come to Norwich,' she said.

'One of the things we hope to achieve is to attract more business here from London. It is a very important area – but it's just getting people to come and work here.'

Mrs Perry said cancellations caused by engineering works and leaves on the line had not been 'dealt with as well as they could have been'.

Leaves on the tracks have seen dozens of services cancelled this month, with trains forced back to the depot for repair work after slipping.

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'I'm not defending it,' Mrs Perry said, 'but there is a real problem with leaves on the lines.

'It slows the whole service down. We are working with drivers to make sure they have more information so they don't just brake straight away.

'We are also working on the equipment we have to scrape the leaves off.'

The rail minister said toilets had been upgraded, trains had been refreshed and free wifi was being introduced, but that permanent solutions would need to be in place when the Abellio franchise comes to an end next October.

It comes as rail industry leaders confirm that fares will rise by 1.1pc next year, the smallest annual increase for six years.

Mrs Perry said: 'I think it is an important point to make that this is the first time in 10 years that wages are going up faster than fares.'

Have you been caught up in the problems on the rails? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk