Branch Line Britain - celebrating Britain's minor railways

Eastern - Cambridge review 2

24/06/11 Cambridge to Norwich
Cost: £15 Anglia Rover (I highly recommend this, unlimited access to East Anglia for a day)
Dept Cambridge: 10:12
Arrive Norwich: 11:30 journey time 1 hour 18 minutes
Traction used: class 170 DMU
Frequency: 1 train per hour double track
Name of line: Breckland Line

Cambridge station is an unusual station that has 6 platforms split into 2 and 3 and 5 and 6 either end of a long platform which is split into 1 and 4. Trains go from here to London, Ipswich, kings Lynn, Ipswich and finally Norwich. The train leaves platform 6 on time and looks fairly full, we head north passing a lot of sidings on the right and a depot. The Ipswich line leaves on the right and continue on past many factories and then over the river cam as we leave the city and enter the fens. We continue on for a while then we pass through Waterbeach station the train does not stop. The ticket inspector comes along as we continue through the fens after a while we start to see Ely cathedral in the distance then the line from Bury St Edmunds meets us from the right as we enter Ely station which has 3 platforms and is very busy. One interesting thing is if you travel from Ely to Norwich be east midland trains is that the trains have to reverse and go in the same direction which must confuse some people a few people get off and the same amount get on.
We head north over a level crossing and get a lovely view of Ely cathedral and the river Ouse which we then cross. After a while the line splits first off to Peterborough then our line leaves the Kings Lynn line and heads east through the very flat fen landscape. After a while we pass though the first station Shippea hill which seems to be in the middle of nowhere and despite its name has no hills. This station like many on this line only has a couple of trains stop a day in each direction in fact the next station Lakenheath only has trains stop on weekends, there is a factory next to the station and is near to the RSPB reserve Lakenheath fen the village is a bout 5 miles from the station and it has no car park. We continue through the countryside for a few miles until we slow down for Brandon station which has 2 platforms either side of a level crossing the station is unstaffed and the buildings are not in use there are about 15 people waiting to get on.
Soon after leaving Brandon we enter the Thetford forest and continue through it until we reach Thetford station which is similar to Brandon like most stations on this line it has a manned signal box to operate the manual level crossing about 5 people get on the train. We head through more of the countryside and speed through first Harling Road then Eccles Road. The problem is with these stations is that they seem to be isolated with no towns and villages around. Then we arrive into Attleborough station which again has platforms either side of the level crossing it has a main building on the Norwich bound platform and a bus shelter on the other side a couple of people get on after Attleborough we continue into the countryside passing through Spooner Row station once again very few trains stop here but at least there is a small village near by.
Soon after you start to see Wymondham abbey in the distance, just before Wymondham station you pass the closed line to Dereham which is now owned by the mid Norfolk railway but they use a separate station about half a mile away. The station itself is really nice with a restaurant on one platform and a museum and beauty salon on the other. Also next to the station is a private house with some rolling stock next to it we then enter more country side fallowing the A11 towards Norwich soon we pass under the great eastern main line and start to curve round to joint it. Soon after joining the main line we go over trouse swing bridge over the river Wensum this bridge is unique as it's the only electrified swing bridge in the UK we then pass crown point depot and arrive into Norwich bang on time.
Summary: A busy cross country route between the two east Anglian city's that should be safe for a long time, some of the stations though maybe in danger from closure one day. James Hudgell