Whilst the generally flat topology makes for relatively easy cycling and walking to and around Norwich, the city is not very well served by major road transport links. The nearest motorway to Norwich is at Cambridge, the M11 to London, which is some 100 km ( about 60 miles) away and the journey by train into London, Liverpool Street station, takes almost 2 hours to cover the approximately 150 km (100 mile) journey. Whilst road signage into Norwich is good, signs to and from outlying towns and villages around Norwich can be sparse and lack clarity, this is also true of road signs within Norwich.
Getting to and from Norwich:
Most road traffic heading into Norwich approaches it via Cambridge, from the south on the M11 or from the north and midlands on the A14. Heading away from Cambridge toward Norwich you use the A11 which, in parts, is still not converted to dual-carriageway.
The main train service operators for Norwich are First Capital Connect and Central Trains. However, One railway provides direct services into and out of London, Liverpool Street station. Whilst it does offer a half hourly service, even at peak commuter times the quickest service takes 2 hours. Apart from stations on the route for Liverpool Street and other Norfolk destinations, One also offers services to Stansted airport and Cambridge. Central trains run direct services from Norwich to many other cities in England including Birmingham and Liverpool with connections to the rest of the country. Central trains operate mainly cross-country routes, meaning that their services stop frequently and are not classed as express. There are some other minor train operators in and around Norwich including – The Bittern Line, which operates a route between Norwich and Sherringham. This popular holiday route heads north out of the city to Cromer and its final destination of Sheringham. Wherrylines operates trains between Norwich and the holiday town of Great Yarmouth and the port at Lowestoft. Travelling through the Norfolk Broads it passes through some of the best known scenery in England.
Norwich does have its own airport which also serves as a regional one to the east of England. Norwich Airport is to the north of the city off the A140 on the way to Cromer. There are regular flights from Norwich to several northern UK cities and Exeter in the south west and the island of Jersey. European destinations include several popular holiday destinations and capital cities such as Dublin, Amsterdam and Paris. Norwich airport uses Manchester and Amsterdam airports as its international hubs, giving it access to 650 international destinations. The two main carriers from Norwich airport are Flybe and KLM. BMI and Eastern airlines also offer services from Norwich.
The main coach operator for Norwich is National Express, which operates from the Surrey Street Bus and Coach station in the city centre. The minimum journey time to London Victoria coach station is just under 3 hours, but with a typical price of just £8 one way, it is a competitive option to the train. Norwich to Newcastle, via London Victoria, takes just over ten hours by coach and the return fare is around £70. The same journey by train, via Peterborough, can be done in around 4 hours but could cost anything from £90 to £180, or even £250 for a first class ticket! As well as operating bus services within Norwich and to the city hospital and the Park and Ride car parks, Konectbus runs services to the west of the city with routes to Thetford, Swaffam and Wells-Next-The-Sea.
Travel in and around Norwich:
Being a compact and potentially highly congested city, Norwich has a Park and Ride scheme which visitors by car are advised to use. With car parking for up to 5000 cars, located on the major approach routes into Norwich the Park and Ride bus services stop at all the shopping areas, sight-seeing locations and other transport links. In Norwich the local bus services are organised by First Group Travel, who are also responsible for many of the bus routes to the surrounding towns and villages of Norfolk.
Norwich capitalises on its flat topology by encouraging its citizens to use bicycles. 10% of Norwich’s citizens cycle to work, compared to a national average of just 3%. Realising the importance of reducing congestion in the city, as well as the environmental and health benefits, the city council is investing in developing more dedicated cycle tracks.
For those determined to drive into Norwich city, for a small and congested city, it manages to provide car parking that can accommodate its visitors even during the peak holiday periods. Whilst the council itself provides around 1500 car parking spaces, this number is swelled considerably by those available at the main shopping malls and centres. The Mall car park, under the Castle, is a particularly useful one to head for due to the high turn-over of cars at this shopping centre.