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Call for Greater Anglia to scrap new parking charges at rural train stations

PUBLISHED: 10:50 23 July 2019 | UPDATED: 10:50 23 July 2019

New parking charges have been brought in at North Walsham train station. Picture: Colin Finch

New parking charges have been brought in at North Walsham train station. Picture: Colin Finch

A call has been made for Greater Anglia to scrap newly-introduced parking charges at some of its rural railway stations in the north of the county.

Earlier this month, the rail provider introduced new parking meters at stations including North Walsham and Wroxham and Hoveton, with previously free spaces now costing £3 a day.

A Liberal Democrat district councillor has called on the charges to be scrapped, amid fears they will discourage people from using the rails.

Paul Henrich, who represents North Walsham on North Norfolk District Council, will table a motion on Wednesday asking the council, North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb and town and parish councils in the district to support him in opposing the charges.

He said: "As one of the first councils to formally declare a climate emergency, we desperately want to encourage people to make better use of public transport - but this charge will put people off.

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"At the moment, a train to North Walsham from Norwich is around £7, so when you add £3 for parking onto that it soon adds up and people may be put off."

Mr Heinrich said there had already been concern expressed around the charges, with fear also being that commuters may instead try to find free parking on the road instead, exacerbating existing problems.

He added: "What you will likely find is people trying to park on roads like Millfield Road, which is already dangerous as it is. The same will happen in Hoveton, so there is a concern."

Greater Anglia, however, has said the charges will help fund improvements to the service it offers, with all costs being reinvested into the railway.

A spokesman said: "Prices are set to ensure that when a passenger drives to a station, they have the best chance of finding a space in good time to catch their train."

In response to Mr Heinrich's environmental concerns, the spokesman added: "We are in the process of replacing every train on our network with a brand new one. The new bi-mode trains, which will run on the Bittern Line later this year, will be better for the environment as the diesel engine is newer and more efficient with lower emmisions than on existing trains."

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