Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A Ride from Cromer to King’s Lynn–Part 2 Norwich to Cromer

Good Friday, 18th April 2014: It was a pleasant run from Cambridge to Norwich, although it would be a little tedious if I had to do it too often. I was quite looking forward to the train journey from Norwich to Cromer. Although I have been on the route the other way around I think this will be the first time North to South.

Just to remind you – this is what it Norwich Railway Station look like – I was on platform 6. Actually I think I was in platform 6b.  No I was wrong I was on 6b.  Norwich is an important enough place that the station gets quite a few trains. Apparently there was an annual passenger count of  4.126 million passengers in 2012/2013.  Mind you Cambridge Railway station had more than double that number with an annual passenger count of 9.168 million in 2012/213.

So by numbering platforms 5a/5b and 6a/6b it means that two small trains can use the platform instead of one long one. Which increases the number of trains although not the number of passengers.  I reckon they also increase passenger uncertainty. Either I must look as if I know how to get about by train or most people find trains confusing, unless they are regular commuters.

Norwich Railway Station

The Bittern Line – from Norwich to Cromer

Here is a link to the Bittern Line guide.  I often think that I ought to do a little bit more homework when cycling. for instance the link points out some stuff to look out for along the line which I would have done if I had known. My tendency is to visit first, then read about where I have been and then re-visit with a little more knowledge.

The train that runs to Cromer (and beyond to Sheringham) is different from the Cambridge Norwich train, but does have a dedicated space for bicycles. Once again the cycling information indicates that booking is advisable, but I tend to make a go/no go decision on the basis of the weather and by then it is too late. If only you could easily book via the web, but I suppose then more people would book and it might be more difficult to turn up and go.

Although there was only a 15 minute gap between trains I was the first to turn up for the Cromer train, two other (lycra-clad) cyclists did turn up after me – I am not sure quite how many bikes will fit – our three were fine though. (There is also space for luggage – take note holiday makers.)

There is also a scheme called Greater Anglia Cycle Rescue Scheme which entitles cyclists to free assistance when they have a valid ticket for Greater Anglia Railways. Although I can’t find reference to it on the abellio website. It is mentioned in this leaflet – under Abellio Greater Anglia.

Maisie, my Marin My Bicycle securely on the Cromer train

It seems to me that the further from the main network the slower the trains run. The fast lines are lines such as the East Coast Main Line, most of it meets the 125mph criterion, or next the Cambridge to London line – 90mph max. Then we have the Cambridge to Norwich Line with an operating speed of 70-90mph.  Finally the Bittern Line with a line speed of 40-75mph.

This train seems pretty slow. The train I was on stopped at three places between Norwich and Sheringham. The first was Hoveton and Wroxham. Here you can alight for the Bure Valley Railway.

Although there is not a Sustrans route (according to the OSM) there is a cycle route to Reepham and NCN1, which in the middle gets close to the RR30 (as I should call regional routes).

This station looks a little like a garage – although there aren’t pumps under the Canopy.

Hoveton and Wroxham Railway Station

Next was North Walsham, (no cycle rou6tes nearby) this is apparently the busiest intermediate station on the line. Now something to remember there is a Motorcycle Museum opposite the station main entrance and railway ticket holders get a discount. There is also a dial-a-bus service offering free travel to Bittern Line ticket holders.

North Walsham Railway Station (although that looks like a bus shelter)

The train passes through Gunton Station where if the train were to stop you could alight for Northrepps International Airport.

Talking of bus stops – well despite Cromer being a seaside town with a pier and once upon a time having three railway stations they are now down to two.  Oh yes the station is pretty underwhelming for a seaside resort. They do have cycle parking though.

Maisie, my bicycle have a rest, Cromer Railway Station

To enhance the bus stop chic the platform sports what looks like a bus shelter.

Cromer Railway Station

Don’t worry it also has a brick built shelter as well. There is a brief delay to allow the train driver and guard to swap ends.

The building to the right is a supermarket, apparently where the large good yard used to be.

Train bounds for Sheringham – Cromer Railway Station

There is also some advertising – although only to those already on the platform and presumably catching or alighting.

The Bittern Line
”The Line for all seasons, a ride for all reasons!”

Reassuringly the line does have what looks like a proper signal box. It isn’t in use though. The line was re-signalled in 2000. There is a committee that has undertaken its restoration. You can join and contribute.

Cromer Signal Box

The first thing to do before all the picture taking was to power up my GPS and then load the route – all of which takes a fair bit of time which is why there are a few Cromer Railway Station pictures.

I had a drink, glanced at my GPS map and set off – the wrong way..

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