Half-hourly services top of commuters’ wish-list

MORE trains, longer platforms and bigger car parks top the wish-list for passengers on Norfolk’s fastest rail link to the capital.

More than 1,000 people a day travel from King’s Lynn to London on First Capital Connect trains.

But the electrified line across the Fens has become a victim of its own success, meaning crowded trains and overflowing car parks at peak times.

Politicians in the west of the county were told to lobby Network Rail for improvements when they met with transport minister Theresa Villiers.

“We’re asking them what it would take to get half-hourly services on that line,” said South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss.

“The kind of thing we’re talking about is doubling the line between Littleport and Downham Market.

“We’re spending a lot of money on rail and this is an area with a lot of potential for economic growth.

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“Norfolk County Council is doing a study of what the benefits of more frequent services would be.”

Norfolk’s MPs have issued a manifesto of demands for the three companies bidding to win the Greater Anglia rail franchise, which covers services between Norwich and London, from 2013. It includes more frequent services between Lynn and London.

First Capital Connect, which operates the Lynn to London service said it would support Network Rail’s case for improvements.

A new round of infrastructure funding – for station and track improvements – is due in 2014.

Longer platforms are needed at some stations to ease crowding, because they can’t accommodate trains with more than four carriages.

Lack of car parking is another problem as the line becomes increasingly popular.

Colin Sampson, West Norfolk Mayor and chairman of the Fen Line Users Association said: “It’s a bit of a victim of its own success, the car parks are creaking at the seams.

“A car park is a costly beast, it takes a lot of �3 a day or whatever to recoup that.”

Mr Sampson said the electrified line was vital to West Norfolk’s economy.

“We know there are firms which have located to Lynn on the basis of being able to get to and from London,” he said.

A new generation of 125mph InterCity trains will be running on the Lynn to London line from 2018.

Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis hopes the new Greater Anglia franchise will also see improvements made to Yarmouth station.

“It’s not the most attractive welcome to one of the biggest seaside resorts in the country,” he said.

Train operating companies are being granted longer franchises of up to 15 years. The new Greater Anglia franchisee will take on responsibility for station maintenance.

chris.bishop@archant.co.uk