The Anonymous Widower

Are Train Services Around Norfolk And Suffolk Unbalanced?

Consider the following services in trains per hour (tph) after Greater Anglia’s proposed changes in their franchise.

  • Cambridge and Bury St. Edmunds- 1 tph
  • Cambridge and Ipswich – 1 tph
  • Cambridge and Norwich – 1 tph
  • Cambridge and Peterborough – 1 tph
  • Cambridge and Stansted Airport – 2 tph
  • Ipswich and Bury St. Edmund’s – 2 tph
  • Ipswich and Colchester – 4 tph
  • Ipswich and Lowestoft – 1 tph
  • Ipswich and Norwich – 3 tph
  • Ipswich and Peterborough – 1 tph
  • Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth – 0 tph
  • Norwich and Great Yarmouth – 2 tph
  • Norwich and Lowestoft – 1 tph
  • Norwich and Peterborough – 1 tph


  1. Most services are a measly 1 tph. Especially, if you’ve walked or cycled to a bleak station and just missed a train.
  2. Norwich and Ipswich get 3 tph, whereas Norwich and Cambridge and Ipswich and Cambridge get just 1 tph.
  3. East West Rail will add an extra 1 train per two hours on the Norwich and Cambridge and Ipswich and Cambridge routes, but improvements are needed now.

I would recommend.

  • Two tph between Cambridge and Ipswich, Norwich and Peterborough.
  • A direct Norwich service to Kings Cross, via Ely and Cambridge.
  • Building Cambridge South station tomorrow!
  • Terminate the Ipswich and Cambridge service at Cambridge South.
  • All passing services would stop at Cambridge South.
  • Add a second Ipswich and Cambridge service that terminated at Stansted Airport.
  • Run a high-frequency local shuttle between Ely and Cambridge South stations.
  • Improve the frequency on as many of the other routes as possible.

The could also be some new stations.

East-West Eail Link

This report on the East-West Rail web site is entitled Eastern Section Prospectus and gives full details of their proposals for the train services along the East-West Rail Link, to the East of Cambridge.

These are the main proposals as regards passengers.

  • A new A14 Parkway station will be built to the North of Newmarket, where the railways and the A14 and A11 cross.
  • Passenger services between Ipswich and Felixstowe will be replaced by a four tph tram-train running on the Felixstowe Branch Line and through the streets of Ipswich. Read all about it in Could There Be A Tram-Train Between Ipswich And Felixstowe?.
  • The current hourly Ipswich and Cambridge service will be replaced or more likely augmented by an hourly Manningtree and Oxford via A14 Parkway, Cambridge and the East-West Rail Link.
  • Combined with the Colchester and Peterborough service, there will be two tph between Ipswich and A14 Parkway via Needham Market, Stowmarket and Bury St. Edmunds.
  • The current hourly Norwich and Standsted via Cambridsge service will be replaced or more likely augmented by a Reading and Great Yarmouth service via Cambridge and Norwich.

The two new East-West Rail Link services, which could be run by a train similar in design and performance to one of the new Hitachi expresses would act as both local and long distance trains to and from Cambridge and the West.

A Cambridge Crossrail?

Cambridge dominates the whole of the East of England and has a voracious appetite for more people to work in the high-tech businesses.

  • Travel to Cambridge by train in the morning from London and there are large numbers of commuters going North.
  • A large quantity of housing is being built at places like Bury St. Edmuds, Cambourne, Haverhill, Huntingdon, Lakenheath, Newmarket, Peterborough, Royston, Soham, Thetford and Wisbech.

Some places, where large developments are happening, have poor or no rail access to the City.

I believe the solution is a  high-frequency local shuttle across the City.

  • The core stations would be Ely, Waterbeach, Cambridge North, Cambridge and Cambridge South.
  • The core frequency would be up to twelve tph  between Cambridge South and Ely.
  • Cambridge South station would turnback most Cambridge Crossrail services in the South.
  • There could be additional Southern terminals at Haverhill, Royston and Stansted Airport
  • Ely station would turnback most Cambridge Crossrail services. in the North.
  • There could be additional Northern terminals at A14 Parkway, Bury St. Edmunds, Thetford and Wisbech.

Most of the infrastructure is already in place, but the following would be needed.

  • Improvement of Ely station.
  • Building of a junction, so that trains and passengers could go between Cambridge North and Bury St. Edminds stations without a change of train nor a reverse.
  • Reinstate the Wisbech Branch with a new station in the town.
  • Build the new Cambridge South station.
  • Connect Haverhill to the West Anglia Main Line with a simple single-track branch.

The core section would use the same platforms as other trains on the route, to make interchange between services easier and stations more affordable.

A14 Parkway Station

Rereading this article, I believe that this station should be built as soon as possible.


Services in Cambridgeshire, Notfolk and Suffolk can be improved greatly and they need to be to allow, the UK’s premier Powerhouse to grow.

November 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Are There Seat Reservation Systems On Class 755 Trains?

Greater Anglia’s Class 755 trains may have been ordered mainly for local routes in Norfolk and Suffolk, but they are also going to work some  long routes.

  • Colchester and Peterborough – 79 milrs
  • London Liverpool Street and Lowestoft – 118 miles
  • London Liverpool Street and Norwich  114 miles
  • Stansted Airport and Norwich – 92 miles
  • London Liverpool Street and Norwich via Cambridge  134 miles

These distances are ones, where passengers like to have a reserved seat and you can certainly get reservations on London and Norwich services.

Look at this picture of the window in a Class 755 train.

There would appear to be no reservation displays.

Perhaps, they haven’t been fitted yet?

But, it these trains ever run London and Norwich services, via Cambridge because of a weather or power supply emergency, they will need a reservation system.


November 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

Can Greater Anglia Run Four-Car Class 755 Trains On Most Services?

Greater Anglia will eventually have the following fleet of Class 755 trains.

  • 14 x three-car
  • 24 x four-car

Note that only four-car trains are in service.

How Many Trains Are Needed For Each Route?

A rough calculation gives theses trains for various routes.

  • Colchester and Peterborough – four trains
  • Ipswich and Cambridge – four stains
  • Ipswich and Felixstowe – one train
  • Ipswich and Lowestoft – three trains
  • Norwich and Great Yarmouth/Lowestoft – two trains
  • Norwich and Sheringham – two trains
  • Norwich and Stansted Airport – four trains
  • Sudbury and Colchester Town – two trains

This makes a total of only twenty-two trains. And Greater Anglia have a fleet of twenty-four!

I have seen it written that the Sudbury and Colchester Town service will be run using three-car trains.

Trains North Of Ipswich And Cambridge

Sp it looks like all trains North of Ipswich and Cambridge can be four-car trains, as there are enough trains.

It also gives  operational advantages for services to Norwich.

  • I took a train from Cambridge to Norwich and noticed, that after unloading passengers at Norwich, it picked up a load more for Cromer and Sheringham and reversed out of the station.
  • Norwich services to Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft weave a pattern between the City and the coast all day.
  • A spare can be based at Norwich Thorpe Depot, in case a train fails.
  • I assume that one Class 755 train can act as a Thunderbird or rescue locomotive for a stalled train.

Ipswich station could see a major sort-out.

  • Only three services to and from Cambridge, Felixstowe and Lowestoft, will terminate and go North at the station.
  • Will eventually all these services turnback in the bay platform 1?
  • Through services going South from Norwich and Lowestoft would use Platfoirm 2
  • The new Peterborough and Colchester service will use Platform 2, when going South.
  • All Northbound through services would use Platform 3.
  • Terminating services from London will use Platform 4.

It looks like Greater Anglia’s proposed timetable simplifies operation at Ipswich and means no new building there.

I suggested that the three services from Cambridge, Felixstowe and Lowestoft all terminate in Platform 1.

  • Platform 1 can handle a four-car Class 755 train.
  • Three trains per hour (tph) could easily be accommodated in one platform.
  • There is space around the platform to improve the passenger experience.

There may be the possibility to use the trains more efficiently.

  • Ipswich and Lowestoft currently takes 91 minutes
  • Ipswich and Cambridge currently takes 81 minutes

The Class 755 trains will shave a few minutes off these times, but they will still result in a long wait at terminals.

Combining the two services with a reverse at Ipswich might be advantageous.

  • Greater Anglia could need less trains for the service.
  • Passengers would have extra route choices.

There are some interesting possibilities.

Where Will The Three-Car Trains Be Used?

I believe and I have tried to show the possibilities, that Greater Anglia will use four-car trains efficiently on all their core routes, with the exception of Sudbury and Colchester Town, where three-car trains will be used.

So where will the other three-car trains be used?

New Services

Greater Anglia, Network Rail and politicians have talked about the following new services.

  • A direct service between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth via Reedham.
  • Reinstatement of the March and Wisbech service.
  • Partial reopening of the Aldeburgh Branch if Sizewell C is built.

In recent years Greater Anglia, Network Rail and others have used the Mid Norfolk Railway, which is a heritage railway for various purposes.

  • Storing rail maintenance equipment.
  • Moving light tanks for the Army by train.
  • Training emergency services.
  • Rail enthusiasts tours, including one in an HST,
  • Storing trains for Greater Anglia. This was a £3.25million. deal.

I feel that because of the train storage deal, Greater Anglia will explore the possibility of a local Norwich service to Dereham, which is a town of just under 19,000 people with no National Rail connection..

  • It could be a joint venture between Greater Anglia and the Mid Norfolk Railway.
  • Norwich and Dereham would take under thirty minutes.
  • Services could use the Mid-Norkfolk Railway’s stations at Wymondham Abbey, Kimberley Park, Thuxton, Yaxham and Dereham as appropriate.
  • Felixstowe, a similar sized town to Dereham attracts 200,000 passengers per year.

The service could be a nice little earner for both companies.

Capacity Increases

With new trains on all Greater Anglia’s services, I suspect that Greater Anglia believe they will see a substantial increase in passengers.

  • There will be a large increase in train capacity.
  • Services should be faster.
  • Services will be more frequent.

But some services will need more capacity.

So will we see pairs of three-car trains working on some services, where a four-car train is not big enough?

Sub-Leasing To Other Companies

It does seem that either Greater Anglia is going to have a large expansion of services or they have acquired too many trains.

Unless of course, they hope to make some of the Class 755 trains available to other companies.



In answer to the title of this post, the answer is yes!

But Greater Anglia must have expansion plans using their three-car Class 755 trains.


November 27, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 17 Comments