Council leader says railway station proposal is a 'pipe dream'
- Credit: Archant
The leader of South Norfolk Council has called plans for a new railway station “a pipe dream” unless Network Rail are on board.
A report by Railfuture has called for the build of a new railway station on the Great Eastern mainline, in Long Stratton.
Long distance rail links in the region are set for improvement, both with Norwich in 90 and East West Rail.
But the independent organisation said improved local rail services could play a much more significant role in the transport needs of the Greater Norwich Area.
Peter Wakefield, vice-chair of Railfuture East Anglia, said: “At 20 miles, the distance between Norwich and Diss stations is the longest interval between any two stations in the East of England.
“Not only does this mean that many South Norfolk residents have long road journeys before they can even access a station, but there is currently no prospect of developing local rail services in the Norwich area along the Great Eastern mainline/A140 corridor.”
But leader of South Norfolk Council John Fuller said there are already “so many competing priorities.”
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He said: “It's not an impossibility to think a new station could be created.
“It’s clearly a desirable thing, but it’s a pipe dream unless Network Rail is on board.
“In the eastern region it’s the top priority to get Ely junction sorted so that you can get to Norwich to Cambridge in an hour and eventually to Oxford in two.
“But their document would be immeasurably strengthened if they got a commitment for Network Rail to bring this into the programme.
“The new local plan has just gone out to consultation. It's likely to be five years until the next one.
“Railfuture needs to get Network Rail on side, engage with councils and local people as we consider our next local plan.”
For their next step, in their report, Railfuture state: “Delivering a new station is a long and complex process.
“The starting point would be for inclusion in the Greater Norwich Local Plan and Norfolk Rail Policy.
“Railfuture would like to see that followed up by a feasibility study commissioned by Norfolk County Council or South Norfolk Council to assess demand for a new station and to carry out a cost benefit analysis."