1. Norwich-Cambridge is a generally well-run and increasingly popular train service. Recently, there have been almost daily cancellations on the Norwich-Cambridge route. Reliability is the most important factor in making services attractive to more passengers.
2. The Turbostar diesel trains need deep and frequent cleaning. Internal doors should be made to work properly or locked out of use in an open position.
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. In the longer term, Norfolk County Council and Norfolk MPs would like a half-hourly service between Norwich and Cambridge. We believe that any additional taxpayer funded trains should be prioritised on value for money.
7. We want any serious study of going half-hourly:
· to evaluate the benefits, costs, revenue and practicality of through trains from and to London Kings Cross and/or Oxford and/or Stansted Airport and/or Great Yarmouth
· to examine various combinations of journey time and stopping pattern to determine the best value, while maintaining hourly Cambridge trains from and to Attleborough, Brandon, Thetford and Wymondham.
8. 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.
Updated Spring 2015