Ten years of direct Norwich to Cambridge rail service celebrated

The Norwich to Cambridge train route celebrated its 10th birthday yesterday – with rail chiefs pledging to improve the service over the next decade.

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman, who has campaigned for better infrastructure in the county, cut a cake at Norwich Station yesterday morning to mark the anniversary, while birthday muffins were handed out to passengers on the 9.40am service.

Greater Anglia said almost one million passengers were using the line each year – up from 300,000 in the first year of service, which started in September 2002. Before the connection, passengers had to travel to Ely and change.

Looking ahead, Mr Freeman said: 'The Norwich to Cambridge line has the potential to become one of the most important lines in the country – the 'Innovation Line', linking the two key centres of growth and innovation in the eastern region.

'Given how vital rail links are to Norfolk's commuters, for easing congestion on our roads and linking Norwich's world class science with Cambridge, it seems almost impossible to believe it was closed until only a few years ago.

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'This is also about sustainable development. The popularity of towns and villages along the line is driving major growth in Wymondham, Attleborough and Thetford, but unless we invest in sustainable, fast rail links we risk the newly dualled A11 becoming the world's first dual carriageway car park when it is opened in 2015.'

Mr Freeman will unveil a manifesto on Thursday at a rail meeting in Norwich, calling for specific improvements on the Norwich to Cambridge line.

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The manifesto will call for half-hour direct services between Norwich and Cambridge, the eventual electrification of the line and improvements to Wymondham and Attleborough stations.

The Conservative MP also wants to see trains on the route refurbished with power sockets and wi-fi.

In July, the government confirmed the rail bottleneck at Ely North Junction would be upgraded, ending a long fight to dual the track.

It means trains will be able to run between Norwich and Cambridge as well as King's Lynn and Cambridge every half hour.

Ruud Haket, managing director of Greater Anglia, said: 'We will continue to make every effort to develop and improve train services in the region and work with our partners to make a compelling case for further investment.'

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