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Thetford Railway Station Improvements

A number of key issues with Thetford Railway Station have been identified by the Greater Thetford Development Partnership Community Sub-Group. As yet, there is little sign of progress to address any of these issues.

Accessibility

There are two key accessibility problems with the current station layout. First there is no wheelchair provision for crossing the tracks, and the only bridge has steep and uneven steps. Those who are unable to use the bridge face a long walk round of almost 1km, via the bridge on Old Croxton Road or the underpass off Canterbury Way. Secondly, there is no vehicle access adjacent to the northern (Norwich-bound) platform. (Station Lane is not recorded as a Public Highway, and the southern part is unsurfaced leading to some taxi firms refusing to use it.) Those with limited mobility who need to be dropped off by car face a 250m walk from the top of Old Croxton Road, or a shorter walk along the unsurfaced Station Lane.

Possible schemes to improve matters include the following, but these many may be of limited benefit or prohibitively expensive:

The poor state of the steps on the existing footbridge was noted in the GTDP Cycling and Walking Report in June 2018 (Section 3.9.1 on page 23), with an action to investigate improvements.

A Report on Station Lane was presented by the Community Sub-Group at the GTDP Board meeting in December 2017, and included details of the uncertainty over its status. Norfolk County Council maintained that the route is no longer a public highway, but the evidence may suggest otherwise. At the Board Meeting, Council Officers promised to look into the matter further and report back, but failed to do so. The unrecorded status of Station Lane was also noted in the GTDP Cycling and Walking Report (Section 3.4, page 14) , with an action to address this.

Ticketing Facilities and Pricing of Tickets Bought on the Train

Ticketing facilities at the station are poor. The ticket office has limited opening hours, and there is only one ticket machine on the southern (Ely-bound) platform. It is permitted to purchase tickets on the train without penalty.

However, one of the two train operating companies, East Midlands Trains, will now allow any railcard discounts if facilities were available at the station at time of boarding. They are within their rights to do this. However, it could be argued to be unlawful discrimination for Norwich-bound customers with limited mobility, as there is no accessible route to the ticketing facilities from the northern platform.

The Greater Thetford Development Partnership has written to East Midlands Trains about this issue in 2018. At the Community Sub-Group Meeting of 16th January 2019, a response was reported. East Midland Trains said that because their franchise was ending shortly, they were not prepared to look at the matter further at present. At the Board meeting in March 2019, the Board agreed to write to the Secretary of State for Transport to raise the issue and suggest that railcard discounts must be available if there are no ticketing facilities that are reasonably accessible from the boarding platform. It was also reported at the meeting that Greater Anglia (the train operating company that managed Thetford Station) are looking for funding to install a second ticket machine on the Norwich-bound platform.

Car Parking

The station car park is managed by NCP but is relatively small for the usage of the station. There are only around 37 spaces available, and there is demand for more. The operator of the station, Abellio Greater Anglia, has said privately that it will not invest in the Thetford Station (i.e. address the other issues above) unless more parking is available to help support higher customer numbers.

The only suitable land nearby that could be used for additional parking is the Town Council's Allotments site to the north of the station. Statutory rules on allotments mean that the use could only be changed if either there was no local demand for the allotment plots that would be lost, or suitable replacement land could be found elsewhere in the town. The former is unlikely to be the case in the near future as there is reasonable demand for the existing allotment plots. As of March 2019, the latter option is being investigated by the GTDP Officer Group.