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Rail work to hit derby match trains

PUBLISHED: 10:02 02 October 2008 | UPDATED: 10:42 12 July 2010

Safety fears have been raised after it emerged that train services on the day of the next Norwich City vs Ipswich Town football match will be disrupted because of engineering work.

Safety fears have been raised after it emerged that train services on the day of the next Norwich City vs Ipswich Town football match will be disrupted because of engineering work.

Track maintenance and improvement work carried out by Network Rail means that the scheduled National Express East Anglia train services between Ipswich and Norwich will not operate when the clubs meet in this season's first East Anglian derby at Carrow Road, on Sunday, December 7.

Consequently the usual Ipswich to Norwich train services and the football special trains that would normally be provided will not run. A limited coach replacement service will operate for other rail travellers.

Ipswich Town Supporters Club chairman Liz Edwards was concerned that the risk of trouble between rival fans would be increased.

She said: “It is completely crazy to close the rail line when it is the obvious way to transport the majority of fans to the match at Norwich.

“From a safety and stewarding viewpoint, there have to be major concerns, as most Town fans will no doubt choose to drive rather than rely on there being adequate capacity on replacement buses.

“With many more people driving, and parking all around Norwich, it will be much harder for police to manage the match. “Historically they have insisted on it being a lunchtime kick-off, and they escort the vast majority of Town fans from the station to the ground and back, yet this time that simply will not work.

“We will see large numbers of Town fans mixing with home fans before and after the game all around Norwich, with consequent increased risk of disorder.”

The Norfolk and Suffolk police forces have been working with British Transport Police and both clubs to ensure derby day passes off peacefully.

The work was planned two years in advance and Network Rail insisted it could not be changed.

Ipswich Town plan to put on extra coaches and to help with the travel planning, Ipswich Town will be selling their allocation of tickets for the match this month using their priority scheme. Supporters will not be able to purchase official club travel until they have purchased their match ticket through the club.

Ellen Rossiter, spokesman for National Express East Anglia, said: “Network Rail planned this work many months in advance and are investing a sizeable amount in improving the network.

“We have taken pro-active steps with Ipswich Town FC to ensure that alternative arrangements are communicated to their supporters in advance of the match. We're sorry we're unable to run our usual football trains.”

The game was originally scheduled for a 12.45pm kick off but was moved to 1.15pm to accommodate Sky TV.

No one from Norfolk police was available for comment.

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