Readers’ letters, March 30 2018

Transformation of Yarmouth line

We’re very sorry for the train cancellations that prompted recent articles and letters in the Great Yarmouth Mercury.

The severe weather caused line blockages due to snow, as well as many train, track and signalling equipment faults due to the extremely cold temperatures.

In addition, during the worst of the conditions, there were problems with deliveries of supplies, equipment and fuel for our trains to our train maintenance depot, due to poor road conditions - which also hampered the ability of rail industry employees to reach key locations (including signal boxes and locations where equipment needed repair or replacement). We worked hard with Network Rail to re-open the Great Yarmouth line as soon as we could, whilst our fleet team worked round the clock to fix the damaged trains – though, unfortunately, we saw some cancellations throughout the week after the snowy weather, as we were clearing the backlog of faults.

Looking forward, in the short term we are reviewing both are our own contingency plans for such scenarios and seeking action from Network Rail to improve their plans and response in the event of similar conditions.

I should add we have made a number of improvements to service frequency to Great Yarmouth in recent years, especially on Summer Fridays, Saturdays and Mondays, to support the tourism economy which is so important to the town. We have also refurbished most of the trains.

Furthermore, train performance on the Great Yarmouth line is normally amongst some of the best across not just East Anglia, but the whole UK rail network, with annual punctuality of over 94pc.

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Looking ahead, we are investing in a complete fleet of new trains, due to be introduced in 2019/20, which will transform the travel experience on the Great Yarmouth line, as part of a £1.4bn investment programme across our network. The new trains will all have either three or four carriages, as opposed to the mix of one, two and three carriage trains in place now.

They will be more comfortable, with more seats, plug points, wi-fi and air conditioning. They will also be more reliable and we will have more of them, giving greater service resilience.

Coupled with the re-signalling of the line, currently underway, this really does mark an upcoming transformation for the Great Yarmouth line.

In conclusion, we’re passionate about providing an excellent train service for passengers and communities on the Great Yarmouth line; we apologise for letting customers down recently; we’re already improving service standards and normally deliver a good train service, through our committed and friendly local team; and we’re investing in a transformative new fleet of trains for the line, which will provide a major, positive step change in service standards from 2019/20 onwards - to the benefit of customers, communities and the wider Great Yarmouth economy.


Head of Corporate Affairs

Greater Anglia

Lovely to visit my parents ex town

I was pleasantly surprised to find myself in Great Yarmouth last weekend for a family celebration.

Surprised because I hadn’t been in Yarmouth since the 1960s, when my parents moved us away to Essex where I have lived ever since.

A long-lost relation managed to trace my and I have been reunited with cousins galore, and their families, and we all met up in Great Yarmouth where the family originally came from.

It was bitterly cold but the walk along the seafront was bracing and enjoyable; I found the town centre on a Saturday quite busy. I live nearer to a retail park than my town centre in Basildon, so it was a lovely experience. At least Yarmouth has a variety of different shops.

I will be back in the summer, when I hope it will be warmer and am looking to explore the places where my parents grew up and lived.



Future Benidorm without weather?

The new Edge development, (Mercury, March 23), will certainly generate jobs and bring life into what has become a very lacklustre part of the borough, south of the Pleasure Beach.

But the picture of the planned Premier Inn, a cornerstone of the development, is not particularly inspiring and seems to reflect little of the actual location.

These so-called hotels, (which are not real hotels with concierges, function rooms and public areas, like the recently-refurbished Star Hotel), seem to be springing up all over the place and, like the budget airlines, offer cheapness and little else.

Even the much anticipated renovated and new Wetherspoons have turned out to be little more than glorified cafés with beer.

In your same edition last week, an advert for a coach trip to Ludlow makes an interesting comparison. This, along with others like Lampeter and Sturminster, is a so-called ‘slow town’ with more than 500 listed buildings and attractions which reflect the particular environment in which they are set, in this case the Marches along the England-Wales border.

So what I am getting at here is this: do we want to be a destination like anywhere else, a sort of Benidorm without the weather; or do we want to invest in developments, outlets and activities which are particular to us and help us to stand out in a tide of standardisation?

We probably all know the answer to that one already.


Collingwood Road,

Great Yarmouth

Erosion is linked to extraction out to sea

I am baffled by the fact every time I connect erosion with aggregate extraction there seems to be a sharp intake of breath with everyone going silent.

I expect it is because they are convinced there is no connection between the two. I will admit this part of the east coast is prone to tidal surges, but amazingly always in the same areas.

The tidal surge will go where the current takes it, which is a deep water furrow in a shallow area. Each time this happens the deep water drag-back makes this furrow deeper and wider leaving a wider area of deep water.

Before the dredging, when the water was shallow, the current would return this drag-back to its original area.

But now with the situation with suction dredging of millions of tonnes of ballast a great crater is trying to level base itself by grabbing material from all around its circumference.

With Britain’s road building programme, ballast for concrete is like gold dust. It causes various aggregate extractors to lay claim to numerous sea areas, then apply for licences to excavate this ballast from the east coast for a designated period, creating an enormous crater.

These extractors were told by marine engineers that the ballast they were reaping is self regenerating. This story from the 1990s was a load of porkie pies.

Coastal protection for Hemsby is nigh on impossible being on the edge of this crater.

Let’s have a bit less intake of breath and a bit more output of help.


Gonville Road,


Dredging may be cause of erosion

Regarding the loss of sand from the Norfolk and Suffolk beaches during the recent bad weather and the effect it has had on peoples’ homes, especially at Hemsby.

There has been comment in the local press that the erosion is a natural thing and we should learn to live with it. But is it a completely natural thing? Can something be termed ‘natural’ if there are man-made influences which might have played a part?

I would refer to the offshore dredging which goes on quite regularly off our coast; sometimes as close as five or six miles.

In 2015, starting on January 22, I kept a log of what I thought were sand dredgers at work off our coast. Over the next 28 days, 24 dredgers were recorded. In tonnage terms, how much sand might that be? Well, as a guestimate, probably about 140,000 tons.

But never mind about guestimates, I’m sure these figures could be checked by official bodies. I cannot believe that dredging can go on off our coast without some sort of records being kept.

So you see why I raise the question as to whether the recent erosion was completely natural.


Warren Road,


Looking for help re Jacob George

I am looking for nostalgia articles featuring the Jacob George herring drifter.

I have been researching my ancestry and have been interested to find articles making reference to the drifter Jacob George (YH176). My great-uncle was crew on the boat in 1926 and lost his life when the nets were being shot 70 mile off Great Yarmouth. I managed to get hold a clipping from the newspaper archive giving a brief account of the incident.

I also tracked down a copy of the book by John Ball “Out of Yarmouth Harbour”, as I had seen there was a whole chapter on the Jacob George (the boat was owned and skippered by John Ball’s father, Billy at the time I believe). There was no mention of the 1926 loss at sea and I wondered whether it might be possible to be in touch with John to see if he has any more details?

If anyone can help I can be emailed at



No rights until the ‘leave’ bill finalised

Brandon Lewis has said that he wants to focus on getting “the message out there” when it comes to his party. But he fails to meet even the most generous standard of accuracy in his public statements.

In February on Question Time he said that only people who are in the UK illegally are detained before being deported. But there are EEA nationals, asylum seekers and people with leave to remain detained - many of whom are released because they should not have been detained in the first place.

Now we have him going to Twitter to claim that the “rights” of EU nationals in the UK, and UK nationals in the EU, are “secured... pre Christmas” and accusing those who say this isn’t the case of “purposely misleading people”.

However no rights will be secured until the final EU withdrawal bill is finalised, and what (fewer) rights we will retain we will be forced to apply for, in order to make sure that even we qualify for them at all.

If this is the message he wishes to get across, it is not one that inspires faith.


Vienna and Great Yarmouth

Thanks to Sandra Chapman Centre

I have just completed a chemotherapy course at the James Paget Hospital and would like to thank the staff of the Sandra Chapman Centre and ward 17 for their friendly and professional care that I received.



Memories of the Gorleston station

My dad was the landlord of the Links Hotel and as a young man I was in the Merchant Navy so regularly took the London train from Gorleston station to join my ship.

Sadly, the last time I saw my Dad he was waving me off on the train at this station He died whilst I was away on a voyage.



Extend seawall to Hemsby coastline

I have been reading about the erosion of the dunes at Hemsby after the latest storms. What is upsetting, is the fact residents and owners of properties on this stretch of coast have lost everything.

A few years ago, they put a seawall from Horsey to Winterton. I now believe they should have made it their priority and brought the seawall to Hemsby.

The coastline needs proper sea defences, otherwise there is going to be more erosion.


St Margaret’s Way,


Appeal to woman who picked up cat

Further to my letter of two weeks ago regarding my cat that was run over and killed.

If the lady I referred to who was kind enough to pick him up from the roadside reads this, I would be really grateful if she could call me any evening on 601170.


Beccles Road,


Millions invested in outer harbour

Regarding John Cooper’s negative comments about the outer harbour, it would appear he hasn’t bothered to consider the continuing investment in the outer harbour:

A further £30m investment by Peel Ports plus the £5m investment by Siemens for assembly of wind turbine parts, or the £5m investment by Veolla Peterson for portside facilities for decommissioning work.

This along with previous investment in the port area shows that it is not a failure but a viable operation that will develop over the coming years.

If it had been left to the Port Authorit,y the outer harbour would never have been built, and none of this investment would be happening.

To finish, I don’t think Mr Cooper realises the potential damage his negative comments can have on inward investment. Any company looking to invest in an area will always look at the local papers and reading negative comments about the town has the potential to deter businesses from investing in the town.