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King's Lynn to King's Cross train route to take even longer

New trains

8:52am 20th July 2017
(Updated 8:52am 20th July 2017)

If plans go ahead, the trip to London from King's Lynn could end up taking even longer.

The proposed rail route to King's Cross will take 10 to 12 minutes longer than it does now.

This is despite the recent introduction of faster trains.

From 2018 the new cross-London Thameslink upgrade, including new routes such as Cambridge to Gatwick Airport, plans to have 24 trains through central London per hour in each direction.

Currently, trains pass at Downham Market, where a late northbound train running on the single track could cause delay to the waiting southbound train. 

Given the need for split second timing on the approaches to King’s Cross, the proposals are for trains to pass at Littleport instead. A late running northbound train here would not prevent a southbound train carrying straight on to the double-track south of Littleport and reaching King’s Cross on time.

But exact timings at Littleport are also determined by other trains elsewhere and the only northbound train ‘slots’ available would force on-time trains to spend several minutes at Littleport waiting for the single line to be free. 

The proposals mean average peak journeys of 113 minutes out and 110 minutes back between King’s Lynn and King’s Cross, an increase of up to 8 minutes, although most users will experience a greater increase.

The Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, the Fen Line Users Association (FLUA), and the King’s Lynn Business Improvement District Ltd today expressed their considerable dissatisfaction with the proposed 2018 timetable for the King’s Lynn to King’s Cross rail route.

The three bodies are calling on the Government to:

  • Explore ways of maintaining and improving existing journey times between King’s Lynn and King’s Cross.
  • Honour the clear commitment in the Phase 1 consultation for trains “every 30 minutes” between King’s Lynn and King’s Cross during peak times. This is something that has now been cut back in the current Phase 2 consultation.
  • Introduce trains “every 30 minutes” between King’s Lynn and Cambridge/Cambridge North during peak times.

The three bodies are therefore further calling on Government to:

  • Adopt a minimum two-track railway between King’s Lynn and King’s Cross, equipped to accommodate 12-car trains, as a clear long-term strategic aim. 
  • Instruct the West Anglia Task Force to develop proposals for full re-doubling of the single line sections to remove the root cause of delays and timetabling constraints north of Ely. 


Councillor Brian Long, Leader of the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, said:

“The Government finalises its 2019-2025 railways budget later this week. It is vital our requests are taken into account as the area is being left at a disadvantage because of the lack of progress. We expect to see the promised work on Ely North Junction taking place and we also want the single-line sections between there and King’s Lynn returned to a two-track line.

The tracks were removed in the 1980s. But with the huge growth in use of the Fen Line, this money-saving measure has just left us with bottlenecks, resulting in a sub-standard level of service. It’s time that our railway line was dragged out of the 80s and brought up to date and in line with other modern railway lines.”

Colin Sampson, Chairman of the Fen Line Users Association, said:

“More and more people are travelling to Cambridge and London – they expect decent trains and a decent train service. Cutting back on the frequencies promised last autumn – and slowing things down on top of that – is unacceptable. FLUA thinks fares should be reduced to compensate.”

Darren Taylor, Chairman of King’s Lynn BID Ltd, added:

“King’s Lynn businesses are getting increasingly fed-up with false promises and a lack of action from Great Northern. I welcome the bigger trains, but we need them twice an hour, all day. I’m concerned that the Fen Line, and King’s 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.”

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