New Bittern Line Sunday services are booming!
The new all year around hourly Sunday service on the Norwich to Sheringham is already proving a success with more people taking the train.
Figures released by Abellio Greater Anglia show that over the first three months of 2015, there was a 20% increase in passengers travelling on the Bittern Line between Norwich and the North Norfolk Coast, with over 10800 journeys made, compared to just over 9000 journeys in the same period in 2014.
The enhanced service was launched last October, meaning that for the first time there is an hourly frequency of service on Sundays during the winter period and therefore throughout the year on the Bittern Line. Six extra services in each direction were introduced, so that 13 services now run in each direction with the first departures from Norwich and Sheringham at 08.36 and 09.42 respectively, with last trains departing Norwich at 20.36 and from Sheringham at 21.42. They benefit communities along the route providing better connectivity for trips to and from Norwich and the coast, and make North Norfolk more accessible and attractive for weekend breaks, all year around. The service had an immediate positive impact, but as awareness of the more convenient and frequent service increased, the first quarter of this year has seen the notable 20% rise in passenger journeys.
The upgrade is one of a number of improvements that have been taking place on the line in the last couple of years. The local trains used on the line have been refurbished; the last train departure from Norwich to Sheringham on Fridays and Saturdays was moved back from 22.45 to 23.05 last December (in response to customer and community feedback and earlier than expected), North Walsham station has benefited from better customer facilities (including better lighting, a ticket vending machine and new customer information screens) and train service performance has seen a moving annual average punctuality of almost 95%.
Jonathan Denby, Head of Corporate Affairs for Abellio Greater Anglia said: “We're pleased to see that the introduction of an hourly Sunday service on the Bittern Line between Norwich and Sheringham, throughout the year, has attracted many more people to take the train. It was one of the key commitments we made as part of our current short franchise and is part of our ongoing programme to develop and promote the line, working in close partnership with key stakeholders such as the Bittern Line Community Rail Partnership. The improved frequency of service is also a major boost for Norfolk’s economy and the local businesses that will benefit from more people visiting Norwich and the coastal and market towns the Bittern Line serves.”
Ted Gadsden, Chair of the Bittern Line Community Rail Partnership, said, “We are delighted by the introduction of the hourly Sunday service to Sheringham and the improved passenger numbers. I am sure that it will have a welcome impact on the tourist industry, demonstrating the importance of rail travel, especially in this area.”