Passenger group's plea to rail firm

A REGIONAL rail firm is being urged to reverse cuts in the number of carriages on its trains and introduce new through services to Great Yarmouth.Passenger group Railfuture is lobbying East Midlands Trains for the improvements as part of a bid to improve services on the route, which was previously run by Central Trains.

A REGIONAL rail firm is being urged to reverse cuts in the number of carriages on its trains and introduce new through services to Great Yarmouth.

Passenger group Railfuture is lobbying East Midlands Trains for the improvements as part of a bid to improve services on the route, which was previously run by Central Trains.

In January it was revealed that Stagecoach, which took over the franchise in a £233m deal last year, had cut capacity on carriages by a third.

While committing to more services into London and more trains on the busiest part of its network, the firm admitted its focus was on busier parts of the network which links cities such as Nottingham, Manchester and Liverpool.


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That also saw a rolling stock switch locally from 170 trains to 158s.

Some commentators believe that the answer lies in introducing faster direct links between Norwich and Peterborough by upgrading the track near Ely.

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But the investment needed is unlikely to force its way to the top of Network Rail's priority list, while in April a study by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) favoured better links between Cambridge, Stansted and London as the best way of dealing with a predicted trebling of passenger numbers in the next 50 years.

Peter Lawrence, president of Railfuture, urged the firm to reverse the carriage cuts but also to extend services to Yarmouth at weekends.

“Since the franchise was taken over by Stagecoach, the trains have been reduced in size from three to two carriages,” he said. “This is causing problems with capacity and we would like to see three carriages restored.

“We think it's time for East Midlands Trains to look at running through trains to Yarmouth on Saturdays.

On Saturday Railfuture's East Anglia branch will host a meeting with John Hillman, stakeholder development manager at East Midland Trains, to hear about the firm's plans for the franchise.

Mr Lawrence admitted that the firm's hands were tied by the franchise rules set down by government, but hoped the company would take on board the issues raised by Railfuture.

“Things are improving but the problem is that any franchise has to operate under the service specifications set out by the Department for Transport,” he added.

“I hope they will answer our questions and say how they are going to develop services.”

An East Midlands Trains spokeswoman said: “We are keen to listen to the views of stakeholders along our route and we look forward to attending the Railfuture meeting and listening to their views.”

The 2.15pm meeting is taking place at the Chapel Field Road Methodist Chapel in Norwich.

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