‘It just can’t handle it’- Railway investments wasted due to lack of infrastructure councillor warns
PUBLISHED: 12:04 21 January 2020 | UPDATED: 12:04 21 January 2020
The west of Norfolk is being ignored and investment in the region’s railway is being wasted due to a lack of infrastructure, a councillor has warned.
Greater Anglia has invested £1.4bn in new trains and Network Rail is spending £2.2bn on the region's rail network between now and 2024 on replacing track and signalling.
Recently Norfolk County Council published in its Rail Prospectus a list of priorities including faster journeys on all routes, a new track at Ely and the Norwich-London line, and a new station at Broadland Business Park.
But to make these improvements Network Rail and Greater Anglia have said it needs to make the single-track bridge in Trowse into two-track - a project that is not currently planned.
Terry Jermy, Breckland district councillor for Thetford, said at a meeting of Norfolk County Council that investments had been focused in the east of the county and the current rail infrastructure could not cope.
He said: "We're fortunate in Thetford that we have a train station. Increasingly people want to travel by train, whether its commuting to Norwich or Cambridge or elsewhere for work.
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"I am passionate about public transport in Norfolk and I am frustrated that the services that we all need and want to see being delivered are still so far away.
"West Norfolk has had investment delayed and yet, like everywhere else, passengers face fare rises and disruption."
Mr Jermy sympathised with passengers in the east of the county who have faced increased disruption despite the large investment. He likened Norfolk's train network to technology, saying it was like trying to use a modern application on an old computer.
He said: "No part of the rail system in Norfolk is immune from the problems. The main focus has been to the east of the county and given the huge investment in new rolling stock that's hardly surprising.
"But much of that rolling stock is idle because of problems, put simply, because of compatibility issues.
"Ever tried to load a new app on an old computer? It just can't handle it; likewise we have known for years the infrastructure along the Great Eastern line was inadequate."