Campaign for quicker rail line

Rail commuters in Diss will benefit from significantly reduced journey times if a campaign to improve services between London and Norwich becomes reality.

Rail commuters in Diss will benefit from significantly reduced journey times if a campaign to improve services between London and Norwich becomes reality.

A petition was launched his week calling on travel times to the capital to be slashed by 20 minutes.

The Norwich in 90 Campaign is pressing for train and track improvements that would cut journey times for the 115-mile distance between London and Norwich from 1hr 50 mins to 1hr 30mins.

Under the proposals, which could also see increased peak-time capacity and new trains on the inter-city route, journeys between Diss and London would take just over an hour and 15mins.

Campaigners are pressing for improvements to the new Greater Anglia rail franchise from next year when National Express East Anglia gives way to a new operator.

Town leaders welcomed the new campaign, which they say will boost enterprise and make Diss a more attractive place for city workers.

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Local MPs, Shaping Norfolk's Future, the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and leaders of Norfolk County and Norwich City councils are all behind the Norwich in 90 Campaign. They want to shave minutes off journey times by reducing the number stops on the mainline south of Colchester, introducing faster, modern trains, and upgrading the rail line.

Chris Starkie, chief executive of Shaping Norfolk's Future, said Diss was very much part of the campaign, which is also lobbying for station improvements and better car parking.

'Any benefits to Norwich will also benefit Diss with faster journey times. We are working on how much it will cost with Network Rail and National Express East Anglia, but we are confident that this work will result in millions of pounds worth of benefits to Norfolk's economy,' he said.

Tony Palmer, Diss town and district councillor, who is part of the Waveney Valley railways task group, added: 'Diss is already one of the top destinations for Londoners to downsize to and I am sure this would attract more people to live here. Twenty minutes quicker would be a fantastic addition to some of the improvements we are campaigning for.'

A spokesman for Network Rail, which is responsible for the track infrastructure, said the company was committed to improving the region's railways and would be investing more than �1bn in the region over the next five years.

'Work of this nature, inevitably, would not be cheap. However, the key factor would not be the cost itself, but more importantly how that cost relates to the benefits that faster journey times would bring.'

Network Rail could finance the scheme in the 2014-19 funding settlement, but only if the government felt it was of strategic importance.

A spokesman for National Express East Anglia, which will surrender its franchise next year, said it supported the initiative.

An online petition backing the campaign can be signed at

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