Great Yarmouth to Stansted rail link "unlikely" until at least 2025
PUBLISHED: 09:24 26 February 2019 | UPDATED: 10:17 26 February 2019
A proposal to make Great Yarmouth a terminus for a new Stansted airport rail line is "unlikely" until at least 2025, a Norfolk county councillor has said.
Martin Wilby, chairman of the council’s environment, development and transport (EDT) committee, has said the terms of the current rail franchise, operated by Abellio Greater Anglia, include an extension of the line from the airport to Norwich - but not to Great Yarmouth.
At a committee meeting last October he was answering a question from Cllr Mick Castle, who had asked if, as one of the county’s top seaside resorts, the town deserved to become the terminus for a longer-distance cross-country train from Stansted.
Cllr Wilby said: “Given that an extension to Great Yarmouth is not included in the franchise specification awarded by government, and the likely practical difficulties involved in extending services, I think it unlikely that this is something that could be achieved in the current franchise period, which runs until 2025.”
Speaking to this newspaper, Cllr Castle said that although five to six million people visit Great Yarmouth every summer the town does not enjoy as many trains coming from London as it used to.
He also said he wrote to Brandon Lewis, MP for the town, asking him to support the idea in advance of the next franchise.
Mr Lewis said: “I am committed to fighting for improvements in our rail network, and I support the efforts by Norfolk County Council and other campaign groups such as the East Norfolk Transport Users Association to lobby for a greater range of services running direct to and from Great Yarmouth.
“From 2020, we will be seeing new trains rolled out to the Great Yarmouth line, which will be hopefully a big improvement for passengers. I am hopeful that as investments continue into the capacity of wider network, more opportunities will present themselves to make further improvements. The new franchise in 2025 is a key opportunity, and one which I discuss regularly with colleagues at the Department of Transport.”
The East Norfolk Transport Users Association has called for additional services to destinations such as Cambridge and Peterborough, as well as the return of the London Liverpool Street service.