Downgraded rail service a concern
THE firm running trains through March and Whittlesey from Norwich to Peterborough downgraded rolling stock and cut carriages after it took on the service. East Midlands Trains took over the route from Central Trains in November as part of a new £233 mill
THE firm running trains through March and Whittlesey from Norwich to Peterborough downgraded rolling stock and cut carriages after it took on the service.
East Midlands Trains took over the route from Central Trains in November as part of a new £233 million East Midlands Franchise.
The firm switched rolling stock from 170 trains to 158 and reduced the number of carriages from three to two, as it focused on busier parts of the franchise network.
Peter Lawrence, chairman of watchdog Railfuture, said this was further evidence of the lack of importance given to East Anglia's westward links following news that the A47 has been downgraded as a key transeuropean road.
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"That's a backward step and a downgrading of the service, which is a great pity as it has great potential," he said.
"What I am disturbed about is that if the 158s are going to be refurbished and there is going to be more seats, that means there could be less legroom, so they won't be so comfortable."
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A spokesman for the East Midlands Franchise said the downgrading had been agreed with the Department for Transport .
And he said the 158 trains had more seats than the 170s and were first in line for a refurbishment scheme due to start later in the year - which would include increasing seat numbers even further.
"When we took on the franchise we had to give the 170s to another franchise - we didn't have control over that and we found ourselves with a shortage in the fleet, so we are trying our best to make sure we carry on running trains.
"We know there are some over-crowding issues and some capacity issues," he added. "We want more trains but, at the moment, there aren't anymore for us to have.