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Commuting shows our travel networks need urgent investment

PUBLISHED: 16:28 28 August 2018 | UPDATED: 16:28 28 August 2018

A Greater Anglia train at Lowestoft station.  Picture: James Bass

A Greater Anglia train at Lowestoft station. Picture: James Bass

Commuting. It's something only those of us who are particularly sadistic enjoy.

Lowestoft Journal reporter Conor Matchett.
Picture: Nick ButcherLowestoft Journal reporter Conor Matchett. Picture: Nick Butcher

Even then, those who claim they do shouldn’t be trusted, as they are highly likely to be serial liars and probably also enjoy waking up at 6am and eating brussels sprouts.

Certainly, people who are unfortunate enough to travel on the railways to and from Norwich, Ipswich and Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft are particularly unlucky.

A recent study by the Joesph Rowntree Foundation showed Lowestoft as one of the worst connected towns in East Anglia if you’re travelling by public transport, with only Great Yarmouth reachable in under 45 minutes.

Commuters who take the busy evening train to Norwich know that comfort is not guaranteed, with one single carriage as standard on the 17.48.

It’s a loud, angry diesel unit which during the summer heatwave bordered on furnace levels of uncomfortable and on a standard day struggles to cope with demand for seats.

On more than one occasion during the school holidays the demand has consistently outstripped supply. Forcing people to stand - in the heat - for the full 45 minute journey to Norwich.

This is not acceptable, and it shows a lack of planning (or care). A quick and simple unit switch on the timetable would solve the problem - seeing a two coach train at Lowestoft station should not be a moment of celebration, it should be the standard.

A lack of investment in the rail service in Norfolk and the rest of the UK’s rural routes have led to decline and near-constant reliability problems, and it’ll take more than just new trains to solve.

However, Greater Anglia deserve credit for ordering the new trains Stadler are due to bring to the region next year and Lowestoft’s commuting problem is a much bigger issue than just who happens to be running the railways.

The town’s inability to have a functioning road network is a massive obstacle to development and growth.

While the Third Crossing is finally in the pipeline, it should not take close to half an hour to cross the Bascule Bridge and Oulton Broad should not grind to a halt due to roadworks, causing chaos for bus passengers and car drivers.

More investment is desperately needed, and quickly, for Lowestoft to grow and develop.

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