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Paston College forges unique link with rail operator

PUBLISHED: 13:26 06 March 2010 | UPDATED: 10:25 13 July 2010

Victoria Leggett

A north Norfolk college has forged a link with a rail company to make it easier for students to travel to the site from all over the county - and get an extra hour in bed too.

A north Norfolk college has forged a link with a rail company to make it easier for students to travel to the site from all over the county - and get an extra hour in bed too.

From September, Paston College in North Walsham will change lesson times to coincide with the timetable for National Express East Anglia's Bittern Line.

On Friday the link between the two was made official as new signs sponsored by the college, which read “North Walsham - home of Paston Sixth Form College”, were unveiled at the town's station.

Principal Peter Mayne said: “We are the first sixth form college in the country to do this.”

The college's relationship with the rail company aims to make it easier for existing students to travel to their lessons by train as well as enticing others from further afield who may have previously been put off by the journey.

Mr Mayne said: “Paston College is the top performing sixth form college in Norfolk - people want to some and study here which means they have to travel.”

At the moment, teens travelling in along the line from Norwich either arrive into North Walsham 55 minutes before the start of classes at 8.45am or ten minutes after if they catch the next one instead.

A-levels student Shona Hannant, lives just 12 miles from the college in Wroxham but has to get a train at 7.30am.

The 17-year-old said: “It's a bit of a chore. Normally it would be a really good day but because you have to get in so early, the day just drags.”

Following the changes classes will begin at 9.05am, allowing Shona to stay in bed an hour longer and still get to lessons on time.

Mr Mayne said it was bound to have a positive affect on the students' learning. He said: “We are here to serve them, help them be happy and settled, to do well and go on to that next step, which will hopefully be university.”

Speaking at the unveiling at North Walsham station, James Steward, National Express' East Anglia's area manager for rural routes, said the link with the college would benefit the rail company financially as well as encouraging greener travel.

He said: “We're pleased to be working with Paston College to ensure more people use train travel. For us, it's more tickets sold and makes the route more profitable.”

Mr Steward assured students timetable changes in the future would not ruin the college's efforts to make journeys easier.

He said: “There are no plans to make any major changes. We have recently put on extra Sunday and evening journeys and made some minor tweaks but there have been no major changes on this route for about 10 years. It's a pattern that works well for the community.”


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