Commuter over crowding must be tackled as a priority, rail meeting hears

Mayor James Palmer in a meeting which included Norfolk MPs Elizabeth Truss and Sir Henry Bellingham

Mayor James Palmer in a meeting which included Norfolk MPs Elizabeth Truss and Sir Henry Bellingham and Borough Council of Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Leader Brian Long - Credit: Archant

Trains with double the number of carriages are desperately needed to tackle commuter over-crowding in rush hour, a meeting heard.

Mayor James Palmerwith Andrew Long, rail minister

Mayor James Palmerwith Andrew Long, rail minister - Credit: Archant

Mayor James Palmer met with rail minister Andrew Jones MP to urge support for eight-car trains on the line between Cambridge, Ely and King’s Lynn.

Mayor Palmer also raised other rail priorities including service improvements to and from Fenland stations at Whittlesey, March and Manea, as well as the delivery of an interim station at Cambridge South.

He said: “As a regular user of this service I’m fully aware of the serious overcrowding between Cambridge and Littleport.

“The timing of the meeting was fortunate because the bid to carry out the work will be submitted this month and hopefully a decision will be made by the Department of Transport to fund the works over the next few months.

“I know from meeting the new Rail Minister, Andrew Jones MP, that he fully appreciates the need for significant Government investment into our rail infrastructure to support the rapid economic growth that continues to take place in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.”

The amount of money rail users spend means they should rightfully expect a basic level of comfort, he added.

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South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss said: “I am extremely frustrated by the length of time rail users are having to wait to see any improvements.

“I appreciate the eight car scheme is awaiting final funding announcement from the DFT but I want Network Rail to be ready to go once the money is available.

“I have raised with the Transport Secretary that this is an absolute priority for our region.”

The King’s Lynn to London King’s Cross service, including stops at Littleport, Ely, Waterbeach, Cambridge North and Cambridge stations, is limited to a four-car train and is frequently overcrowded at peak times.

It only becomes an eight-car service between Cambridge and King’s Cross.

Network Rail is working on a scheme to extend platforms at Littleport and Waterbeach, and sidings work at King’s Lynn, to accommodate eight-car trains.

The design is being submitted to the Department for Transport for financial approval this month.

The Mayor also called for earlier and later services to Peterborough, Cambridge and Stansted Airport from Cambridgeshire railway station as well as an interim station at Cambridge South.