James Palmer slams ‘ambitious’ rail improvement plans and calls for more stops across Fenland

PUBLISHED: 11:40 25 February 2020 | UPDATED: 11:41 25 February 2020

Mayor James Palmer (pictured) has criticised CrossCountrys rail improvement plans and is calling for more work to be done across Fenland. Picture: Archant/FILE

Mayor James Palmer (pictured) has criticised CrossCountrys rail improvement plans and is calling for more work to be done across Fenland. Picture: Archant/FILE

Archant

Mayor James Palmer says he is disappointed and frustrated by the “lack of ambition” in plans to improve CrossCountry rail services that fail to mention more frequent trains from March, Manea and Whittlesey.

Cross Country is to receive a £2.5 million investment from the Government to improve their services, but Mayor Palmer feels Fenland is missing out.

"The CrossCountry service would be the easiest and cheapest way to improve the rail service to Fenland stations where currently almost all the services do not stop at Whittlesey and Manea stations or do not run with enough frequency or late enough in the evenings," he said.

He said the promise of longer trains and more seats for passengers across the Midlands "with do nothing for the Fenland service."

Mayor Palmer, who is continuing the campaign begun years ago by MP Steve Barclay, wants more ambition to be shown by the train operator.

Cllr Steve Count, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, said: "Whilst we acknowledge the CrossCountry train investment announcement from the government today, it is not enough.

"We want to see more stopping train services between Whittlesey, March, Manea and Cambridge North from early in the morning to late at night.

"This is critical to allow people from outside Cambridge to access jobs and housing more easily and spread the wealth being created by Cambridge. "

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He accepted that Birmingham to Stanstead services from next year will improve capacity, but this did not go far enough.

"We will continue to speak to government about what more can be done," said Cllr Count.

CrossCountry plans to put an additional 15,000 seats on all services from mid-2021, including those traveling from Cambridge to Stanstead Airport.

Mayor James Palmer is trying to secure:

-Stops at Whittlesea and Manea, not just March, with additional services particularly at peak commuting times in the early morning and evening

-A doubling in frequency of services between Stansted, Cambridge, Peterborough (and vice versa) from hourly to half-hourly

-An increase from two-carriage to four-carriage services and later services from Monday to Saturday.

-He also believes later trains will enable people to enjoy evenings out in Cambridge and Peterborough and catch late flights at Stansted, using public transport

-Stops at Cambridge North station to access job opportunities in the area, including at Cambridge Science Park


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