Norwich to London weekend rail engineering work cut

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Media captionFor the first time in years trains will run on the Norwich to London line over the Christmas break

Engineering work on the Norwich to London train route will be cut from 30 weekends to seven in 2013.

Network Rail and train operator Greater Anglia said the move would lead to a "better balance" between the needs of passengers and line improvements.

Conservative MP for Ipswich Ben Gummer said he hoped it would boost tourism in the region, which had "suffered" as a result of weekend stoppages.

Overnight work will still affect some early or late weekend trains.

Greater Anglia said some "very late night Saturday, early Sunday morning and very late Sunday journeys" might involve buses.

Dave Ward, Network Rail route managing director for Greater Anglia, said he expected the change to lead to more weekend passengers "boosting economic growth" in the region.

Image caption Ben Gummer, MP for Ipswich, said tourism had suffered due to weekend rail engineering works

He added: "There is still a huge amount of work to do to improve things further but we have found a much better balance, which I hope passengers will welcome."

Peter Lawrence, the Norwich-based vice-chairman of the passenger campaign group Railfuture, said: "There's no question the replacement bus service has deterred people from travelling at the weekend."

Conservative MP for Mid Norfolk George Freeman backed the closer co-operation between train and track operators but said "to enable East Anglia to prosper, we may need to be bolder".

He said he wanted an "East Anglian Railway Company controlling both track and trains" to be set up with the ability to raise additional private investment to improve the network.

In the last five years, Network Rail has upgraded parts of the line between Liverpool Street and Chelmsford, regularly leading to weekend closures.

Part of this work included replacing 6,000 pieces of equipment ahead of the Olympics.

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