Train services cut shock
TRAIN services between East Anglia and London are set to be cut when the region's rail network is revamped next year.The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) has drawn up a proposed timetable for when the Greater Anglia franchise comes into operation next April.
By Jonathan Barnes
TRAIN services between East Anglia and London are set to be cut when the region's rail network is revamped next year.
The Strategic Rail Authority (SRA) has drawn up a proposed timetable for when the Greater Anglia franchise comes into operation next April.
It includes off-peak trains between the capital and Ipswich being reduced from four to three while all services take in extra stops in Essex.
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The SRA said the proposed timetable was a bid to improve punctuality and stop overcrowding on the tracks.
But passengers fear it could mean overcrowding on the trains and longer journey times to take in the stops.
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The plan to cut off-peak trains from Ipswich is part of an overall proposal to reduce the number of mainline services from East Anglia to London from seven an hour to five.
Those trains which do run will stop at more stations picking up more passengers – increasing journey times.
The new timetable will also slow down many journey times between Ipswich and Norwich – although more trains will stop at Stowmarket.
It shows two trains an hour from Norwich to London, all stopping at Diss, Stowmarket and Ipswich as well as more stations in Essex including Colchester, Chelmsford, and Witham.
Paul Latham, of the SRA, said views of local authorities and passenger groups would be considered before the timetables were finalised.
"Punctuality is not at a level passengers expect at the moment or deserve at the moment because the timetable is overloaded," he said.
"In the draft we are looking at dropping one of the off-peak services between Ipswich and London as part of a plan to deal with this.
"There is no substantive proposal to change peak time trains, but there has been some lobbying for additional stops in Essex.
"That will make some journey times longer – so we will have to ask people what they would prefer. There is no view either way as yet."
Consultation on the timetable continues until mid-June and the final version is likely to be submitted in July.
The official rail watchdog, the Rail Passengers' Council for Eastern England, said it was "relaxed" about the reduction of services between Ipswich and London.
But secretary Guy Dangerfield said there was real concern about the proposals to stop trains at more stations.
"We are very anxious to maintain an InterCity service – and if so many trains from Norwich have to stop at every station the times will not be good enough," he said.
More space is needed for freight trains because of the SRA's decision to delay plans to upgrade the cross-country route from Felixstowe to Nuneaton in the Midlands.
Now all freight trains with large containers will have to travel via London – and as the government tries to force more freight on to the tracks, more space is needed for these trains.