The Anonymous Widower

Greater Anglia’s Norwich And Stansted Airport Service Starts On December 15th 2019

The annual December timetable change on December 15th 2019, will see Greater Anglia bringing in their new service between Norwich and Stansted Airport stations start as an hourly service.

The Route

Between Norwich and Ely stations, the route is on the Breckland Line.

  • It is not electrified, except for a short section at the Norwich end.
  • It is a full double-track, except for the single-track Trowse Bridge, that it shares with the Great Eastern Main Line on the approach to Norwich.
  • The operating speed is between 75-90 mph.
  • There are intermediate stations at Shippea Hill, Lakenheath, Brandon, Thetford, Attleborough, Spooner Row and Wymondham.

There is potential to increase the line speed, perhaps add some extra stations and remove the antiquated Trowse Bridge.

South from Ely through Cambridge to Stansted Airport, the route is a busy, fully-electrified double-track line.

The New Timetable

The Sunday journeys are as follows

  • Journey time appears to be a couple of minutes over two hours both ways.
  • Most services seem to leave Stansted at XX:09
  • First Northbound train is 08:18
  • Last Northbound train is 21:11
  • Most services seem to leave Norwich at XX:03
  • First Southbound train is 09:03
  • Last Southbound train is 20:03
  • Calling points appear to be Audley End, Wittlesford Parkway, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely, Brandon, Thetford, Attleborough and Wymondham.

Weekday services appear to be more-or-less similar.

  • Northbound services take around 6-9 minutes less than two hours.
  • Most services seem to leave Stansted at XX:48
  • First Northbound train is 05:27
  • Last Northbound train is 21:11
  • Southbound services take around 3-9 minutes less than two hours.
  • Most services seem to leave Norwich at XX:27 or XX:33
  • First Southbound train is 08:33
  • Last Southbound train is 19:27
  • Calling points are the same.

My Observations follow.

Convenience And Capacity

It is currently actually quicker by a few minutes to use the following services.

  • East Midland Railway’s service between Norwich and Ely
  • CrossCountry’s service between Ely and Stansted Airport.

These two trains can be very overcrowded at times and the new four-car Class 755 trains are much better and have more capacity, than the other services, which are often just two-car Class 158 or Class 170 trains.

Two Trains Per Hour Between Norwich And Stansted Airport

It also appears that the service with the single change at Ely will still be possible after the timetable change.

Thjis means that Norwich and Stansted Airport will have a two trains per hour (tph) service.

Train Timings

It would appear that the times between Cambridge and Norwich are very similar before and after the timetable change.

So it doesn’t appear that Greater Anglia are taking advantage of the superior performance of the new Class 755 trains.

How Many Trains Will Greater Anglia Need For The Norwich And Stansted Airport Service?

The current service between Norwich and Cambridge stations has a three hour round trip, so three trains are needed to provide the hourly service.

It looks like the Norwich and Stansted Airport service has a four hour round trip, so four trains will be needed to provide the hourly service.

Extending the Norwich and Cambridge service to Stansted Airport needs just one extra train.

How many extra passengers will Greater Anglia attract?

Whittlesford Parkway Gets An Extra Hourly Service To And From Cambridge

The extended hourly service between Norwich and Stansted Airport will call at Whittlesford Parkway station, which will increase the frequency on the busy commuter route between the Parkway station and Cambridge City Centre.

When we lived near Newmarket and C was practising as a barrister, she would sometimes go to Norwich up to tyree times a week. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that travellers between Whittlesford Parkway and Norwich stations are rather more numerous than the forecast.

  • The train will take about ninety minutes and driving about seventy-five.
  • The Class 755 trains have wi-fi.
  • There is a lot of parking at Whittlesford Parkway station.
  • Will Greater Anglia put a snack trolley on the train?

C would have certainly used the service, as Whittleford Parkway station was around fifteen minutes from where we lived.

What Will Greater Anglia Do With Lakenheath And Shippea Hill Stations?

These two stations are By Request and only get a few services a week.

Consider.

  • The modern Class 755 trains with their high performance and short dwell times could probably selectively stop at these stations without degrading the train timings.
  • Cambridge needs satellite development to provide housing and commercial development.
  • The future of RAF Mildenhall is uncertain and it could be sold for housing.
  • It could be argued that Cambridge needs a new Park-and-Ride station to the North to take the pressure off Ely station.

This Google Map shows RAF Lakenheath and the Breckland Line running Easy-West between Ely and Norwich.

Note.

  1. RAF Mildenhall is to the South-West of RAF Lakenheath.
  2. The railway going across the North side of the map through Shippea Hill, Lakenheath and Brandon stations.
  3. Most of the land is aricultural and very flat.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see substantial development of the railway through the area in the next ten or twenty years.

What Will Greater Anglia Do With Spooner Row Station?

Spooner Row station is another By Request station on the Breckland Line bertween Attleborough and Wymondham stations..

Spooner Row is not a busy station, although as this Google Map shows it is just off the main A11 road.

Noyr that Spooner Row station is in the South-East corner of the map.

Perhaps with more services and some increased car parking, it might pick up commuters and shoppers for Cambridge and Norwich it might become a convenient station for local residents travelling to and from Stansted Airport.

Could There Be A Norwich And Dereham Service?

Greater Anglia seems to be working closely with the Mid Norfolk Railway, which runs between Wymondham station on the Breckland Line to the town of Dereham.

  • In Aerial Pictures Show New Trains Housed In Mid-Norfolk, I showed how the heritage railway was storing trains for Greater Anglia.
  • According to Wikipedia, it would appear that several million pounds were spent to i8mprove the railway and its signalling, so that Greater Anglia’s new trains could be safely stored.
  • The line is mainly single track and signalled for an hourly service.
  • The yard at Dereham station seems to be regularly used for freight purposes, including loading damaged rolling stock on to road vehicles. It is also used by Network Rail for storage of track plant.
  • Train operating companies and heritage railways are increasingly working together for their mutual benefit.

As an InterCity 125 trains has recently been beyond Dereham, I wouldn’t rule out Greater Anglia running a new service between Norwich and Dereham, with a future aim of extension to Fakenham.

Because of the limitations of the track, it could probably only be a limited service.

Can Capacity Be Increased If Needed?

Having lived near Cambridge for nearly thirty years of my life, I believe that there will come a time, when one four-car train between Norwich and Stansted Airport will not be enough.

  • Two tph could be run on the route, which is relatively lightly used by other services.
  • Longer trains could be created or two three-car trains could be run as a six-car train.
  • The current speed limit of 75-90 mph of the Breckland Line,  can probably be increased closer to the 100 mph of the Great Eastern Main Line.

Higher speeds would shorten journey times and increase capacity.

Could We See 125 mph Trains From Kings Cross To Kings Lynn And Norwich?

In Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, I talked about putting digital signalling on the Kings Cross and Kings Lynn route and running 125 mph trains via Cambridge.

If the Kings Cross and Kings Lynn route were to be upgraded for faster running, this would also upgrade the proposed Kings Cross and Norwich route as far as Ely.

This would make it very feasible to run the following serrvices using 125 mph trains like Class 800 trains.

  • Kings Cross and Kings Lynn
  • Kings Cross and Norwich

Because of their speed these trains would help to open up capacity between Hitchin and Kings Cross.

I feel that these 125 mph bi-mode trains could do the trip between Kings Cross and Norwich in ninety minutes, which would match the time via Ipswich.

Do I Have Any Criticism?

My main criticism is that the service between Norwich and Stansted Airport, doesn’t have trains that run early and late enough.

Wil lthe service be timed to better fit the services out of the Airport?

Further Development Of The Breckland Line

This report in the Ely Standard from 2015, is entitled Could Railway Revolution See New Station Built at Ely North?.

These improvements are listed.

  • A new four-platform station North of Ely would improve connectivity.
  • A service between Kings Cross and Norwich via Cambridge is suggested.
  • Improvements in services across East Anglia.

A cost of a billion pounds is mentioned.

125 mph Trains From Kings Cross To Kings Lynn And Norwich

In Call For ETCS On King’s Lynn Route, I talked about putting digital signalling on the Kings Cross and Kings Lynn route and running 125 mph trains via Cambridge.

If the Kings Cross and Kings Lynn route were to be upgraded for faster running, this would also upgrade the proposed Kings Cross and Norwich route as far as Ely.

This would make it very feasible to run the following serrvices using 125 mph trains like five-car Class 800 trains.

  • Kings Cross and Kings Lynn
  • Kings Cross and Norwich

The two services could even split and join at the proposed Ely North station to make full use of the paths into Kings Cross.

The 125 mph or more operating speed of these trains on the East Coast Main line would help to increase capacity between Hitchin and Kings Cross.

I estimate that these 125 mph bi-mode trains could do the trip between Kings Cross and Norwich in ninety minutes, which would match the time via Ipswich.

Norwich could have the following services.

  • Three tph to and from London via Ipswich
  • Two tph to and from London via Cambridge
  • Two tph to and from Stansted Airport via Cambridge.

It sounds fantastic, but if we are to get travellers out of their cars, they must be given a high quality train service.

Conclusion

The improved Norwich and Stansted Airport service will be the first major improvement brought in by Greater Anglia.

September 25, 2019 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , ,

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