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Question mark hangs over future of popular coastal bus route

PUBLISHED: 10:50 14 February 2018 | UPDATED: 15:55 15 February 2018

A Stagecoach Coasthopper bus. Picture: Ian Burt

A Stagecoach Coasthopper bus. Picture: Ian Burt

A question mark is looming over the future of north Norfolk’s popular Coasthopper bus service, after Stagecoach announced it was reviewing its King’s Lynn-based operations.

Wells Town Council chairman Allen Frary. Picture: Graham Corney. Wells Town Council chairman Allen Frary. Picture: Graham Corney.

But it has not yet been confirmed whether the service, which connects Lynn to Cromer, is among the lines the operator is planning to cut in response to a challenging economic environment.

But other bus operators including Holt-based Sanders Coaches and Lynn-based Lynx have said they stand ready to help keep the service running if Stagecoach gave up the Norfolk County Council-subsidised route.

Allen Frary, Wells Town Council chairman, said the Coasthopper was vital for the area.

Mr Frary said: “It’s a well used facility, not just for Wells but for the whole north Norfolk coast.

“With the cutbacks you have to expect some cuts somewhere, but it would be very sad for a lot of communities if the Coasthopper was no longer there.

“A lot of rural communities like ours would be more isolated than they currently are, and it would have a knock-on effect right along the coastline.”

Charles Sanders, owners of Sanders Coaches, said: “We wouldn’t want to see any services lost if we can help it. How it’s going to be operated is not certain yet, but if they asked us to help out I’m certain we would look at it.”

Graham Smith, commercial manager of Lynx, said he expected there would continue to be a coastal bus service, but who would run it and other details were not yet clear.

He said: “There will still be a bus service along the north Norfolk coast but at this relatively early stage we are not sure whether the new service would be an exact replacement of what is being provided by Stagecoach under the Coasthopper brand.

“It’s not yet clear whether the Coasthopper name will be retained, but there will definitely be an equivalent service.”

One 35-year-old King’s Lynn bus driver for Stagecoach, who did not want to be named, said last week: “Some of us have already found other work as a consequence of this. There are about 70 to 80 services running in King’s Lynn and I’ve heard the Coasthopper is going Lynx. They are all being pulled as early as next week.”

A Norfolk County Council spokesperson said: “Following the recent announcement that Stagecoach is reviewing its services, Norfolk County Council have had various meetings with both Stagecoach and other operators regarding Coasthopper, and we are confident that this route will be covered going forwards.”

Marie Strong, county councillor for Wells division, said: “The Coasthopper has been under threat before.

“First because it was the most highly subsidised bus route in the county, next the then bus operator sold out.

“Now further speculation as to the Coasthopper’s future.

“However the demand from local people and visitors has to be too great for bus operators to ignore. I believe that a bus service will be offered all the way along the north Norfolk coast; that this north Norfolk jewel may even be polished. We just need to remember that anything worthwhile is worth waiting for.”

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