London train journeys set to take longer

TRAIN trips between East Anglia and London are set to take longer - because government bureaucrats insist they stop at more stations in Essex.And they will be 10 minutes slower than the fastest trains before the network was plunged into chaos by the Hatfield disaster in 2000.

TRAIN trips between East Anglia and London are set to take longer - because government bureaucrats insist they stop at more stations in Essex.

And they will be 10 minutes slower than the fastest trains before the network was plunged into chaos by the Hatfield disaster in 2000.

The government's strategic rail authority - which is due to be abolished in the new year - insisted on the extra stops when it granted the Greater Anglia franchise to 'one' earlier this year.

"There will be two trains an hour from Norwich to London," said an SRA spokesman.


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"One will stop at Diss, Stowmarket, Ipswich, Manningtree, Colchester, Shenfield and London. The other will stop at Diss, Ipswich, Manningtree, Colchester, Chelmsford, Stratford, and London."

Until the closure of the Ipswich tunnel, most InterCity services from the town stopped only at Colchester - and took 70 minutes to reach the capital.

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Some trains stopped at only Ipswich and Colchester as they travelled from Norwich to London.

"The extra stops will add about five minutes to journey times. We feel it is worth that to give passengers more options for changing - Shenfield is a key junction for journeys to Southend," he said.

Stratford station is a key gateway to the London docklands - and will be a station on the new Eurostar line currently being built into St Pancras station in north London.

A few peak-time trains will continue to run non-stop between London and Colchester, but because tracks are busier at those times they are not expected to be much faster than the stopping trains.

Officials at 'one' said the timetables still had to be finally approved by the SRA, but they were not expecting major problems.

"They give more journey options and only add a few minutes to overall journey times," said Peter Meades from 'one.'

"They have been given the go-ahead by local councils and by the Rail Passengers' Committee (the official travellers' watchdog)."

N How do you feel about longer journeys to London? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk or visit the forum at www.eveningstar.co.uk

Train times between Ipswich and London:

1952: 77 minutes (fastest trains).

1981: 70 minutes (fastest trains).

1990: 65 minutes (average Intercity trains).

1999: 59 minutes (fastest trains).

2003: 70 minutes (most Intercity trains).

2005: 68-71 minutes (most Intercity trains).

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