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News Archive November - December 2007
one last time...
It was launched in a blaze of glory in April 2004.
Then its oddity made it the butt of jokes. Now the one name is to
disappear. National Express, one’s parent, is to unite its three rail
companies, as well as its UK bus, and coach and airport transfer operations,
under a single corporate brand. one’s new name will be
National Express East Anglia.
Said Richard Bowker,
chief executive of National Express: “Public transport has been getting
more and more complicated for our customers....our vision as a business is to
make travel simpler”.
Out, too, is one’s metallic-blue-and-rainbow-stripes
image. Crown Point depot has already applied NatEx
white-and-silver corporate colours to a train,
including loco no. 90003 Raedwald. However the
National Express logo and the words ‘East Anglia’ are missing as the official
launch is scheduled for next February.
Major Liverpool Street shutdown to start
From Sunday December 23 until Tuesday January 1, Liverpool
Street station will be closed so that Transport for London (TfL)
and Network Rail can undertake major engineering work. A bridge on the approach
to the station will be demolished to facilitate TfL’s
East London line extension, while Network Rail replaces OHL equipment in the
Liverpool Street area, carries out development at
Stratford and replaces track and crossings at Shenfield.
During this period, no trains will operate between
Stratford and Liverpool Street. For passengers travelling
to and from Norwich and Ipswich, direct coach services will run between
Liverpool Street and Colchester. For intermediate stations to Stratford,
passengers are advised to change at Colchester into connecting trains or
one gets a repeat
lashing from Norwich MP
In a week when one trains suffered from external factors,
including three suicides and trees brought down by high winds, Dr Ian Gibson,
MP for Norwich North, has again laid into the rail company. On December
3, he was on board the 09.30 Norwich – Liverpool Street when it broke down at Diss and limped to Ipswich, where passengers transferred to
another train for the rest of their journey. In the Eastern Daily Press
Dr Gibson branded the Norwich – London service “a
In November last year Dr Gibson and two fellow MPs
publicly examined Network Rail and one officials, following which they slammed
the performance on the GE main line.
The region’s railways were in more trouble on December
7. As well as blown-down trees halting trains at two locations in Essex,
a fire alarm closed the Liverpool Street signalling
Tidal surge halts rural services
Although it was not as severe as anticipated, a tidal
swell along the east coast on November 9 put some Norfolk rail services out of
action. The Wherry Lines were closed after the
06.40 Lowestoft to Norwich was forced to turn back,
and flooding at Whitlingham Jct
also stopped Bittern line services for a while. Extensive damage to tracks and
surrounding embankments at Haddiscoe, with ballast
washed away in places, meant that for some days Lowestoft-bound
trains stopped short at Reedham. Even after the
section east of Reedham reopened on November 19,
correspondent Chris Boon reports that a speed restriction remained in force at Haddiscoe and the marshes between Oulton
Broad and Somerleyton remained heavily flooded on
both sides of the line.
Boost for cross-country rail freight
The DfT has announced £132
million rail freight funding grants, including £80m to enhance gauge and capacity
between Peterborough and Nuneaton. This will
enable the route to carry ‘big boxes’ – 9ft 6in high cube containers, which
otherwise need special wagons or have to be carried by road, and will provide
an alternative route from Felixstowe, bypassing London.
The Port of Felixstowe and
Freightliner have both welcomed the announcement. Railfuture
East Anglian Branch said that improving the
Peterborough – Nuneaton route would cut the need for
many lorry movements along the heavily congested A14 trunk road.
Additionally, many of the current daily 26 or so daily inter-modal trains to
and from Felixstowe could in future be diverted away
from the heavily congested GE main line through Colchester, enabling the
passenger train service to operate more reliably.
Nenta scales back
‘Great Days Out’
The cost of operating charter trains from East Anglia
has forced Norfolk-based Nenta Traintours
to slash next year’s programme of ‘Great Days Out’
loco-hauled charter trains. Nenta’s Ray Davies
says the firm has been confronted with an increase of 33% in operating and
train hire charges. As a result just five trips are
planned, the first, to Birmingham and Kidderminster, being scheduled for April
The practice of starting at least one tour from the
Mid-Norfolk Railway will not be repeated for the foreseeable future. As
well as the expense of operating along the MNR, the four hours needed for two
return runs between Wymondham and Dereham
make it difficult to organise destinations other than
short-haul ones such as York. An excursion to Weymouth in August could
not make its scheduled late-night return to Dereham
because of a line closure, and Nenta had to lay on coaches from Wymondham.
Better connections for early-morning coastal passengers
A number of timing adjustments took place across the one
network from the start of the winter timetable on December 9. They
included bringing forward the departure times of two trains from the east
coast. The 05.40 Mon-Fri Lowestoft – Norwich
now leaves at 05.36 to connect with the 06.25 Norwich – Liverpool Street, while
the 06.00 Mon-Fri Great Yarmouth – Norwich departs at 05.55 and connects with
the 06.33 Norwich – Cambridge.
Regimental nameplate carried once more
The nameplate Royal Anglian
Regiment reappeared on November 22 when it was unveiled on Class 90 no. 90012
at Liverpool Street.
The naming took place to mark the homecoming of the 1st
Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment from its tour of
duty in Afghanistan. L/Cpl Simon Mercer unveiled the name, after which soldiers
and their families took the train to the Battalion’s homecoming parade in
The name Royal Anglian Regiment
was previously carried by no. 86246.
Bittern unit hits buffers
Four passengers suffered minor injuries when a Bittern
Line dmu hit the buffer stop at Sheringham
station on October 10. Two-car unit no 156418, forming the 10.45 train
from Norwich, was drawing in to the single-track terminus at an estimated 5mph
when the over-run happened. Buses replaced trains between Sheringham and Cromer while checks to train and track were
Another branded dmu as Felixstowe joins East Suffolk CRP
The Bittern and Wherry Lines
each have a dmu to promote their charms – now the
East Suffolk Line does too. Unit no. 156422’s new look was unveiled at
Ipswich station on December 3 by Councillor Guy
McGregor, Suffolk County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Roads &
Transport. The dmu has been turned out in
modified one livery, with the exhortations “Get on board!” and “Travel the East
Suffolk Lines” on the carriage sides. Like the Bittern and Wherry
units, its table tops carry a route map.
The Felixstowe branch joined the
East Suffolk Community Rail Partnership from the start of the winter timetable
(hence “East Suffolk Lines”), and will benefit from the CRP’s local marketing
and promotional activity.
Extend Crossrail to Suffolk –
The long-awaited Crossrail
project finally received the green light on October 5 when Prime Minister
Gordon Brown announced a funding deal. Under the £16bn scheme, from 2017 Crossrail trains will run from Heathrow Airport and
Maidenhead to Paddington through the West End, the City to Canary Wharf and
East London, Essex and Kent.
Now Superlink, a group of
influential railway project managers, is calling for Crossrail
to extend to more towns including Ipswich and Cambridge. Superlink chairman John Prideaux,
formerly head of BR’s InterCity
unit, welcomed the funding announcement but cautioned that a lot of money was
being spent on a rail scheme that “does so little for so few”. He claimed
that extending it to Basingstoke, Milton Keynes, Reading, Stansted,
Cambridge, Ipswich and Southend would be more than
self-financing, generating much greater passenger revenues.
also questioned the rationale for running half the Crossrail
trains via Stratford to Shenfield over the GE
line. Proposals to link this part of the railway into Crossrail,
it says, might well make services worse. Adrian Gunson,
chairman of the Norfolk Rail Policy Group, said: "It would be a concern if
the proposed extension to Crossrail were to cause any
further congestion on the Norwich to London main line which already has
problems at rush hour. But we are in favour of
extending Crossrail as it would help people in
Norfolk link into major towns to the north and west of London. However, if it is extended to Ipswich then why not Norwich?”
Farewell CT, welcome EMT
Central Trains disappeared at 02.00 on November 11, when,
without fanfare, East Midland Trains took over operation of the part of the
re-drawn franchise which includes Norwich – Liverpool through trains. CT
had begun operations in March 1997 and ran more than 1,300 services a
day. Its last ever train was Sat/Sun night's 00.10 from Birmingham
New Street to Coventry.
Teenagers killed ‘walking home’ on railway track
Two 17-year-old boys died on the morning of December 8
after being hit by a train between King's Lynn and Watlington.
They were thought to have been walking along the single track after a night
punctuality record despite main line problems
The four weeks ending October 13 saw one’s trains achieve
punctuality of over 90% for an eighth successive period. This represents
the most consistent period of performance since the franchise began in 2004 and
one of the best periods of the past 15 years. 90.34% of services arrived
“on time” (InterCity: within 10 mins;
others: within 5 mins).
However on the Norwich /Ipswich /Harwich /Clacton/ Colchester /Braintree /Chelmsford – London main
line only 84.9% were on time. This was due largely to infrastructure
problems, engineering work over-runs, suicides and incidents outside the
railway’s control, such as the eight-hour closure on October 5 because of fire
safety precautions on the adjacent A12 road.
Steel sleepers for Wherry line
In late October and November Network Rail spent £5m
improving the track between Norwich and Great Yarmouth. Over seven miles of
sixty-year-old rail were renewed and wooden sleepers were replaced with steel
versions between Brundall Junction and Great
From October 29 to November 9 trains ran between Norwich
and Great Yarmouth via Berney Arms, while buses
between Norwich and Great Yarmouth served Brundall
Gardens, Brundall, Lingwood
and Acle. However Saturday and Sunday October 27/8,
and Saturday and Sunday November 10/11 saw all Norwich to Great Yarmouth
services replaced by buses.
Vicars launch Churchrail
Trail – that’s the name for a new way to visit the region’s churches by
train. A brochure has been produced to encourage visitors and local
residents to visit over 20 churches which are situated close to Bittern and Wherry Lines railway stations. Anglia Plus and London
rail tickets can be won by accumulating stamps for each church visited.
Among the churches on the Churchrail
scheme are St. Margaret’s, Herringfleet; St. Mary’s, Wroxham, St. Nicholas, Great Yarmouth and St. Peter &
St. Paul, Cromer. David Hayden, Archdeacon of Norfolk commented: “I am
delighted that one is coming into partnership to enable more people to have the
opportunity to visit these historic churches.”
Vicars from various featured churches were at Norwich
station on October 29 to launch the scheme.
Station adopters’ efforts recognised
The one network has more than a hundred volunteer station
adopters, including over 40 for rural stations. They report faults and
defects to maintenance teams, help with floral displays, and improve the
environment for rail passengers and local communities. To recognise their efforts an annual awards ceremony has been
The judges for this year’s contest, Clive Morris, one’s
Business Director, Rural and John Brodribb, Chairman
of the East Suffolk Community Rail Partnership, assessed the quality of floral
displays, tidiness and general appearance. Great Yarmouth was named best
staffed station (one station staff), with Lowestoft
runner-up. Acle was judged the best medium-size
station, and a commendation went to Brandon. The best small station was
West Runton, while Brundall
Gardens and Reedham were highly commended.
Prizewinning stations received cash to help with
improvements and floral displays.
Five-year success for Norwich – Cambridge link
Over 670,000 passenger journeys are taken each year on the
Norwich – Cambridge rail service, which celebrated its fifth birthday in
October. one reports that the number of journeys
has grown over 35% since the first year.
The service began following the award of a £9.2 million
grant from the now disbanded Strategic Rail Authority under its Rail Passenger
Partnership scheme. Since the launch an extra return trip has been added,
giving 16 trains each way on Mondays to Saturdays, as well as additional stops
Norfolk to Paris in one easy transaction
King’s Lynn was among the first stations to offer through
fares to mainland Europe.
When St Pancras International
opened on November 14, customers using First Capital Connect trains from
certain stations – as well as King’s Lynn, they
included Ely, Cambridge and Hitchin – could buy
through tickets for return travel to Paris, Lille,
Disneyland Resort Paris or 75 other destinations in France; or to Brussels or
any station in Belgium. FCC’s Thameslink
services called at St Pancras International from
December 9, and King’s Cross, terminus of FCC’s GN-line services, is of course
right next door.
Heritage, Narrow-Gauge and Miniature
Quad-arts (well, half of them) are back home
The North Norfolk Railway’s unique four-coach
‘quad-art’ set, built at Doncaster in 1924, has
been under overhaul at West Coast Railway Co's Carnforth works for the past four years, thanks to a
£341,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant. On October 8 the first two coaches
(compartment thirds nos. 48863/4) returned to Sheringham.
After a slow and difficult journey from Sheringham they arrived at Holt two days later and entered the
Bridge Road carriage shed. Also HLF-funded, the shed has been built to
house the quad-arts as well as the railway's other historic rolling stock.
The remaining two coaches (third no. 48863 and brake third
no. 48861) are due to return from Carnforth in
February 2008, after which lettering and numbers will be applied to the the complete set.
Tourism ‘silver’ for NNR
The North Norfolk Railway has been named runner-up in The
EDP/Berry Savory ‘Best Norfolk Attraction’ tourism award, beaten by by Banham Zoo. The
railway’s passenger count for 2007 is on course to reach 130,000.
Chink of light for Sheringham
Network Rail has told the Bittern Line CRP that it is
happy to consider reinstating rails across Station Road, Sheringham
as an “occasional use” connection. The link, which would be paid for by
the North Norfolk Railway, would enable trains
from the national network to reach the NNR six to eight times a year, according
to spokesman Colin Borg.
Even with NR’s change of attitude, other hurdles remain:
obtaining planning permission, defining safety measures for the crossing, and
laying rails over what is now a ‘community garden’.
More ambitious plans to run Bittern Line trains into the
NNR station on a regular basis are unlikely to go ahead
Dereham is the pits
– and DRS is delighted
The Mid-Norfolk Railway’s main-line connection and growing
maintenance facilities have once again proved their worth.
DRS, which operates daily
rail-head treatment trains in East Anglia, is regularly using the MNR’s Dereham yard pit to inspect
and service its locos. The first trip took place on October 11 when locos
nos.20312 and 20313, with two RHTT wagons between them, formed the 6Z20 09.58 Stowmarket – Dereham. On
October 25 four locos – a Class 37 and three Class 20s – made the trip to Dereham.
Anticipating great interest in these unusual workings, the
MNR emphasises that it is a working railway and not
open to public access when DRS locos are being serviced. However activity
in the yard can be viewed and photographed from the rear of the nearby leisure
centre and bowling alley.
Developer may fund MNR station
Developer Land and New Homes has submitted an outline
planning application to build 21 houses at North Elmham
near the Mid-Norfolk Railway’s moribund northern section. If the
application is successful, Larid and New Homes will
pay to realign North Elmham level crossing and also
build a platform and ticket office nearby. The MNR plans eventually to
extend train services north of Dereham through North Elmham to County School.
Anglia lives – just
Anglia Railways’ much-admired main-line teal-green livery,
for some years a staple of the GEML, has not
completely disappeared from Norfolk. In mid-October, AR-liveried Mark 2e
open first-class coach no. 3521 arrived at the MNR’s Dereham station. The coach can accommodate 62 diners.
Away from the tracks
Wroxham Box finally
Disused since 2000 when control of the Bittern Line was
transferred to Trowse Swing Bridge, Wroxham signalbox has at last
been moved further from from the running line so that
it no longer obscures a colour-light signal.
The move took place on the night of November 25 /26.
The Wroxham Signalbox
Trust, a registered charity, has been set up to restore the Grade II-listed signalbox and open it as a working museum so that visitors
can learn about the role it played in railway history. Restoration
funding has been secured from the Railway Heritage Trust, but £40,000 more is needed. The Trust plans a public launch
early next year. For more details contact:
Wroxham Signalbox Trust, Barton House, Hartwell Road, Wroxham, Norfolk, NR12 8TL
Local Lines on Film
The East Anglian Film Archive
has launched ten new archive DVDs – and two of them concentrate on local
Railways of East Anglia 1900 - 1980s includes: the
M&GN Railway, London to Scotland Express, LNER and the Flying Scotsman, the
Southwold and Mid-Suffolk railways and King’s Lynn to
Hunstanton. Running time: 55 mins.
Railway to Nowhere - Branch Line to Laxfield
covers the history of the ill-fated Mid-Suffolk Light Railway, a line that 'ran out of steam, yet survived to serve one of
the remotest parts of East Anglia for two generations' It uses dramatic
reconstruction, rare archive film and interviews with those who worked and travelled on the railway, and runs for 43 mins.
The DVDs cost £9.99 each + shipping.
or tel. 01603 251744
Lingwood station up
for sale again
In summer 2004 the old station house at Lingwood was on the market for £349,500. Three years
on, the five-bedroomed 1882 building is up for sale
again. This time the agent is Musker McIntyre
(tel. 01508 521110) and the guide price is £339,950.
“Obviously there is a certain amount of noise from the
trains”, say the agents, “However, there is no traffic noise and the property
has an unique and distinctive character which...would
appeal to a train enthusiast or a purchaser searching for a character home with