Published: Wednesday, 19th July 2017
On behalf of the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk, Fen Line Users Association and the King's Lynn Business Improvement District.
The Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, the Fen Line Users Association (FLUA), and the King’s Lynn Business Improvement District Ltd have expressed their considerable dissatisfaction with the proposed 2018 timetable for the King’s Lynn to King’s Cross rail route.
Govia Thameslink Railway (Great Northern) acts for Government as a management contractor. The three bodies are therefore jointly calling on the Government to:
- Explore ways of maintaining and improving existing journey times between King’s Lynn and King’s Cross (allowing for the additional, welcome, stops at the employment hub around the new Cambridge North station).
- Honour the clear commitment in the Phase 1 consultation for trains “every 30 minutes” between King’s Lynn and King’s Cross during peak times (arriving 0700-0959 at King’s Cross and departing there 1600-1859). This is something that has now been cut back in the current Phase 2 consultation.
- Introduce trains “every 30 minutes” between King’s Lynn and Cambridge/Cambridge North during peak times (i.e. arriving 0700-0959 at Cambridge and departing there 1600-1859).
- The second track between King’s Lynn and Watlington and between Downham Market and Littleport was removed as an economy measure in 1984/5. The anachronistic single line bottlenecks impose severe limits on the scheduling of trains, leading to the longer overall journey times now being proposed.
The three bodies are therefore further calling on Government to:
- Adopt a minimum two-track railway between King’s Lynn and King’s Cross, equipped to accommodate 12-car trains, as a clear long-term strategic aim. Ensure that short-term plans are fully assessed to ensure they do not conflict with this ultimate goal.
- Instruct the West Anglia Task Force to develop proposals for full re-doubling of the single line sections to remove the root cause of delays and timetabling constraints north of Ely.
Councillor Brian Long, Leader of the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, said: “The Government finalises its 2019-2025 railways budget later this week. It is vital our requests are taken into account as the area is being left at a disadvantage because of the lack of progress. We expect to see the promised work on Ely North Junction taking place and we also want the single-line sections between there and King’s Lynn returned to a two-track line. The tracks were removed in the 1980s. But with the huge growth in use of the Fen Line, this money-saving measure has just left us with bottlenecks, resulting in a sub-standard level of service. It’s time that our railway line was dragged out of the 80s and brought up to date and in line with other modern railway lines.”
Colin Sampson, Chairman of the Fen Line Users Association, said: “More and more people are travelling to Cambridge and London – they expect decent trains and a decent train service. Cutting back on the frequencies promised last autumn – and slowing things down on top of that – is unacceptable. FLUA thinks fares should be reduced to compensate.”
Darren Taylor, Chairman of King’s Lynn BID Ltd, added: “King’s Lynn businesses are getting increasingly fed-up with false promises and a lack of action from Great Northern. I welcome the bigger trains, but we need them twice an hour, all day. I’m concerned that the Fen Line, and King’s Lynn specifically, is yet again being overlooked in favour of investment that will benefit other towns and cities in the East. We need to make our dissatisfaction clear to Government.”