Staggering to think rail journey is slower than 100 years ago
During the year we like to take our Railfuture Lincolnshire display stand out to some events.
One of my favourites is the Grantham Rail Show where as well as publicising our campaigns I meet friends old and new.
This year the show, held on the first weekend of September, coincided with the Mallard festival also being held in Grantham. The show was an exceptionally successful event with more than 1,700 visitors over the two days.
We are now hoping the new RailFAIR! – Castle to Castle campaign we were publicising at the show is equally successful.
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It is difficult to believe the fastest journey time between Lincoln and Nottingham is slower now than it was a century ago!
Over the past decade, government action has made rail services east of Nottingham worse rather than better.
Back in 2003, the service frequency between Lincoln and Nottingham was reduced from two to one train per hour then in 2005 – to make matters worse – through trains to Birmingham and some well-used peak hour trains were withdrawn.
Two years later came the promise of a two-hourly service from Lincoln to London and we did think our luck was changing but in 2009, before these services started, a new timetable was announced with just one daily service to Kings Cross.
When this timetable was finally introduced in 2011 rather than a better service Lincoln actually received a much worse service with extended journey times, longer waits for connections at Newark Northgate and some connections broken altogether.
If this was not bad enough Lincolnshire was hit again when capacity was reduced by replacing a two-car train with a single car unit.
Passengers on the Newark Northgate to Grimsby route have been particularly badly hit with regular overcrowding and instances where potential passengers have found trains so full they could not even get on them!
At the same time as our services have deteriorated not far away in East Anglia the frequency on the East Suffolk line between Lowestoft and Ipswich has been doubled.
This for a route where the number of passenger journeys is around half of those between Lincoln and Nottingham. A clear example of how badly we are treated in Lincolnshire compared to other parts of the country.
After years of cuts there is now an opportunity to improve the service to Nottingham.
A strategy has been developed which could in December 2014 see a new timetable introduced with shorter journey times; at least one train every hour each way, even in the evenings and two trains every hour between Newark and Nottingham with one train continuing to Derby and Matlock.
The service at Hykeham would almost double with one train every hour in each direction.
As I mentioned in my last column these sorts of improvements come at a cost and in this case the cost is the service would need local authority support for the first three years.
Some support has already been provisionally offered but to get more support we need to show our politicians here is strong demand and support for a better service.
Newark Business Club has taken the lead in this by organising the RailFAIR! campaign and setting up a website where supporters can register their support online.
If you want to demand service improvements log on to: www.railfair.co.uk and register your support.