Rail plan sparks station concerns in Reedham

The swing bridge in the village of Reedham shown from the air. Picture: MIKE PAGE

The swing bridge in the village of Reedham shown from the air. Picture: MIKE PAGE - Credit: Archant

A key proposal in a study into improving the rail network has suggested the reintroduction of a direct hourly service between Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

The broadland village of Reedham on the River Yare in Norfolk. Picture: James Bass

The broadland village of Reedham on the River Yare in Norfolk. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

The link would be reopened via a spur at Reedham, with a running time of 33 minutes by semi-fast service and bring back a service which last ran between the two resorts in 1970, albeit on a different route.

However, Network Rail's Improving Connectivity study was only given a lukewarm response by Steve Hewitt of the East Norfolk Transport Users Association.

He explained: 'The proposal would mean a redundant curve, originally built in the 1800s, would need to re-laid at Reedham.'

The last railway service to link the two towns ran from 1903 until 1970 via a now disused track on the East Anglian rail line which passed through Gorleston and Hopton. The proposals for a new direct train between the two resorts could cut combined average travel and waiting times by 52 minutes.

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The study points out in order for the route to reopen, Reedham Station would need to be relocated approximately 1,250 yards to the east, immediately north of Holly Farm Road.

Mr Hewitt, 58, from North Quay, Yarmouth, said: 'Why would Network Rail want to relocate Reedham station when it has a ready-built station with two long platforms?'

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Now concern around the proposal has motivated Reedham Parish Council to add the item to its agenda as a discussion point for the next full council meeting on January 12.

David Hale, chairman of Reedham Parish Council, said: 'We would like as many people as possible to attend the meeting on Monday so we can gather the views of villagers to feed them back to Network Rail.'

Network Rail's proposals are open for public consultation until January 31 and Mr Hale revealed the parish council is in the process of organising a public meeting later this month, and have invited representatives of Network Rail to attend to answer questions.

Mr Hale said: 'Moving the station will obviously have an impact on houses and residents in the village. As a parish council we are here to represent the views of the village so we need to pass those to the developers.'

Use of rail connections at Reedham would double the frequency of trains to two per hour on the Norwich to Yarmouth and Norwich to Lowestoft corridors. Mr Hewitt added: 'The chance to open a new service is great, anything that alleviates transport on the road is a good idea. Whether or not it would be viable, I don't know.'

The proposals suggested in the study would cost around £1bn to implement across the scheme.

Mr Hewitt said: 'All of this costs money - moving stations and improving tracks - we would rather see existing services improved with two trains per hour between Norwich and Great Yarmouth in both directions - one via Acle and one via Reedham.'

Network Rail has used Anglia as a case study to test ideas for how to improve connectivity across the country.

Other key proposals in the study include building a new Ely North station and introducing an express from Norwich to London King's Cross via Cambridge, taking one hour 46 minutes.

To comment on the proposals email improvingconnectivity@networkrail.co.uk

The Reedham Parish Council meeting starts at 7.30pm

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