Sunday, 22 November 2009

NXEA Vision For Rail Services Between London and Norwich

National Express East Anglia has set out its vision of services on the London to Norwich mainline. Speaking at the conference Shaping Norfolk's Future, NXEA's managing director Andrew Chivers highlighted the three main areas to be addressed: Quicker journey times between Norwich and London with the fastest service taking only 1 hour 30 mins; new Inter-City trains; and further improvements to the railway infrastructure, including tracks and signalling.

Ironically some of the improvements, such as new trains, will come into service beyond the end of the current franchise in 2011 which may see another operator running the service. However, the planning does need to start now. In the short term, the widely publicised increase in capacity on commuter routes will continue with the ongoing addition of 'hand me down' trains to the Class 321 fleet enabling many services to be lengthened. NXEA will also be looking, at last, to installing WiFi services on their Inter City fleet.

The time taken by London - Norwich trains at the moment is dictated by many things: Busy commuter routes into London hindered by there only being four tracks as far as Shenfield; Very few passing loops (Places for trains to pass) beyond Shenfield; Speeds limited to a maximum of 100mph; the number of station stops made on each journey. To achieve the goal of a 1 hour 30 min journey between Norwich and London some of the above, if not all, will need to be addressed.

New trains for the London - Norwich route will be a very welcome change to the tradition on this line of taking elderly, second hand trains off somebody else's hands.

Changes to the infrastructure will take considerably longer to implement but may include a passing loop at the new station proposed near Boreham and even extending four tracks beyond Shenfield, possibly as part of the CrossRail project.

Of concern to Manningtree, Colchester and Chelmsford passengers is the possibility of fewer Inter City trains stopping at these stations to improve overall journey times and as such the ERUF will be monitoring developments closely.

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