1. Norwich-Cambridge is a generally well-run and increasingly popular train service. Recently, there have been fewer cancellations on the Norwich-Cambridge route. Reliability is the most important factor in making services attractive to more passengers.
2. The train seats have new upholstery and there has been a visible improvement in cleaning. But internal doors should be made to work properly or locked out of use in an open position and working train toilets should always be available to passengers.
3. We believe that no passenger should normally have to stand for more than 20 minutes. Some Norwich-Cambridge services are over-crowded south of Ely. First Class could be replaced with more standard seats. More grab-handles or poles to support standing passengers could be useful. Timetable information, as on Thameslink services, could warn passengers of which trains to avoid if they are particularly concerned to get a seat.
4. Norwich-Cambridge trains are about ten minutes slower than when they were introduced, slower than some connecting services, possibly changing perceptions. An advertised and dependable 75 minutes would be a step in the right direction.
5. There have been serious problems for passengers during engineering blockades. When the Norwich-Cambridge route is closed, passengers between Norwich and Cambridge should be advised to travel via Stowmarket, with appropriate connections provided. And when London to Norwich is closed, enough capacity should be provided for comfortable travel between Norwich and Cambridge. Text messages and twitter feeds should continue to be provided for registered passengers. Use should be made of train and station public address systems, as on London Underground, but only if the messages can be limited to those appropriate to that service.
6. There is a clear need for much higher – and properly monitored – compliance targets for station facilities. It is wrong for taxpayers’ money to be spent on facilities which are then locked out of use when they should be available to passengers. The last few years have seen major problems at Ely, March and Thetford. Station facilities should always be available to passengers at the specified times. Wymondham needs step-free access to westbound trains. With over 100,000 passengers a year now, Brandon would benefit from more comprehensive passenger information, another waiting shelter on Platform 1 towards Norwich, improved platform lighting and some covered and secure cycle parking.
7. During 2019, the Franchising Director expects to replace the present service with new trains between Stansted Airport and Norwich. Will the trains run as smoothly as do the Turbostars? Will the seats be as comfortable? Will toilets and any internal doors work properly and reliably? Will journeys take longer? Will the promised Wi-Fi work in Thetford Forest?
Updated Spring 2018