Campaigners have spoken of their frustration at proposed train timetable changes which could see journey times between King’s Lynn and London increased at weekends.
Rail operator Great Northern is consulting on its 2018 timetable for the Lynn to King’s Cross Route until December 20.
West Norfolk Council, the Fen Line Users Association (FLUA), and the King’s Lynn Business Improvement District (BID) warn Saturday journeys could take an extra 12 or 14 minutes.
Earlier proposals would already see weekday journeys take longer.
New official station usage estimates for 2016/17, released on December 1, say Lynn, Downham Market, Ely and Waterbeach – all in East Anglia’s top 20 per cent busiest stations band – are consistently four of the region’s fastest growing stations.
Despite the sustained growth in passenger numbers, the current timetable proposals for longer journeys risk jeopardising the Fen Line’s success story, the three organisations say.
Earlier in the year, they called on the Government to explore ways of maintaining and improving existing journey times, allowing for additional stops around the new Cambridge North station.
The bodies also want to see the Government make a clear commitment to half-hourly trains to King’s Cross and, in the long-term, adopt a minimum two-track railway on the route to tackle existing bottlenecks.
Council leader Brian Long said: “We’ve heard much about the promised work on Ely North Junction, but that will inevitably be a long process. We also want the single-line sections returned to a two-track line.
“The bottlenecks result in a sub-standard level of service, which Great Northern is now proposing to downgrade further, with even longer journey times.
“Our line is one of East Anglia’s most consistent heavy-hitters, passenger numbers are up yet another year. We urge rail users to respond to the consultation and tell them what they think.”
Colin Sampson, FLUA chairman, said: “We’ve said before that more and more people are travelling to Cambridge and London and that they expect a decent train service. The growth isn’t a flash in the pan – just look at the official statistics, which show strong passenger growth year after year.
“Not delivering the promised ‘half-hourly’ frequency is bad enough, but now they’re thinking of slowing things down on top of that. FLUA thinks fares should be reduced to compensate, not going up again. Many journeys would be 15 per cent longer if this goes through, so we’re looking for at least a 10 per cent price cut on all fares.”
Darren Taylor, King’s Lynn BID chairman, added: “Lynn businesses are getting increasingly fed-up with false promises and a lack of action from Great Northern.
“I welcome the bigger trains, but not the long delays before they are to be introduced, maybe over a year away, but we need them twice an hour, all day.
“I’m concerned that the Fen Line, and Lynn specifically, is yet again being overlooked in favour of investment that will benefit other towns and cities in the east. We need to make our dissatisfaction clear to Government.”
Visit www.transformingrail.com to respond to the consultation.