Three key rail upgrades have been identified to put East Anglia on the fast-track to economic improvement – signalling an urgent, united effort from businesses and politicians to secure the investment.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

Three vital rail upgrades have been identified to put East Anglia on the fast-track to economic growth – signalling an urgent, united effort from businesses and politicians to secure the investment.

Train operator Greater Anglia has written to 200 of its most influential stakeholders, urging them to make the case for desperately-needed improvements to the region’s rail infrastructure.

The company has outlined priorities which could unlock capacity and boost journey speeds on the Great Eastern Main Line (GEML) between Norwich and London, and the West Anglia route linking King’s Lynn with the capital.

But overwhelming support for these ambitions must be proven within a limited window of opportunity, with a February 19 consultation deadline providing the last chance to influence Network Rail’s Strategic Business Plan for 2014-2019.

Greater Anglia’s three priorities are:

1. “Real improvements” to journey times and line speeds. On the Norwich to London route, the aim would be reductions of at least five minutes.

2. Additional track capacity north of Chelmsford near the proposed new Beaulieu Park station.

3. Extension of the third track from Stratford towards London on the West Anglia route.

Stakeholders including MPs, local authorities, business organisations and user groups have been asked to write to Network Rail (NR), which owns and operates Britain’s rail infrastructure, to include the upgrades in its 2014-2019 business plan.

But they must also convince the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), which must approve the plan, and the Department for Transport (DFT), which will ultimately fund it.

Ruud Haket, managing director of Greater Anglia, said: “We are already doing what we can in the short term to upgrade services, and already making real progress in terms of punctuality and reducing the amount of disruptive weekend engineering work.

“But this is a vital chance for us all to try and secure the additional infrastructure enhancements on the GEML and West Anglia routes we all wish to see, sooner rather than later – to the benefit of customers, communities and the economy across our region.”

The push for funding comes ahead of Thursday’s pivotal East Anglian Rail Summit in Westminster to discuss the next steps for the region’s rail campaign.

An alliance of politicians, business groups and rail operators and users from Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire will meet to discuss the priorities laid out last year in the East Anglia rail prospectus.

The meeting will be chaired by Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, who said: “The golden thread that runs through this is that we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to open up investment in our railways.

“We will discuss these items at the rail summit this week as part of the over-arching common campaign which seeks to get faster journey times as well as more reliable services, and a better quality of rolling stock.

“I am particularly interested in creating extra capacity north of Chelmsford because it means trains will be able to pass each other and that is what opens up the capacity along the entire line between Norwich and London, helping us to get faster journeys and a more reliable service all the way along the line. What is good for Essex is good for Norfolk, and vice versa.

“We are speaking with one voice across four counties to secure improvements on our railways in the long term. We are taken most seriously when we move together.”

Graham Plant, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for planning and transportation, said the authority fully supported the collaborative approach to securing rail upgrades.

He said: “This is something we have been doing for some time now and I will be representing the county council in London on Thursday at a rail summit as we continue to work for better railways for Norfolk and the eastern region and help to shape future rail investment plans.”

The East Anglia rail prospectus says enhancements to capacity, line speed and service quality on the GEML could bring an extra £3.7bn to the regional economy, according to a report by transport consultants Atkins.

Chris Starkie, programme director of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, which coordinated the East Anglia rail prospectus, said: “We fully support Greater Anglia’s call to lobby the ORR, DFT and NR so we can maintain the pressure for investment.

“A united front and joint message from all stakeholders are critical to secure the improvements we want to see.”

Caroline Williams, chief executive of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, will also be at Thursday’s summit to reinforce the business case for the upgrades. She said: “Norfolk businesses needs improved rail infrastructure in order to create the economy and the resulting jobs which we are all striving for.”

NR’s draft business plan already lays out a series of goals in the region including track renewals, bridge replacements and safety upgrades – but acknowledges the plan is “being developed at a time of economic constraint, and so the make up of that plan has to be affordable for funders”.

Jonathan Denby, Greater Anglia’s head of corporate affairs, said: “It is a very competitive environment. Other regions will no doubt be making their case. We already know that in the North they have been lobbying for particular improvements.

“It is really important to get our case across because, if we don’t, we won’t be heard and there will be plenty of others who will.

“We have got a window of opportunity for us all collectively to influence the kind of upgrade which passengers will be able to see the benefit of in terms of being able to enjoy faster journey times and more seats by the end of this decade.”

Mr Denby said journey times could be improved by using higher specification track and better level crossings, which could allow trains to run faster and reduce their stopping times.

16 comments

  • Rather than shaving time off the journey, how about making it more reliable. Would it not be something, if they was no delay or cancellation for a whole week? how about for a month?

    Report this comment

    canuk

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • i would love a share in the exspense bill from this lot all they seem to do is have meetings but never come up with anything. except the date of another meeting to discuss how to upgrade the last upgrade and the upgrade before that !!

    Report this comment

    i am mostly wrong??

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • Shaving 5 minutes off the journey time to London is neither here nor there. This could easily be achieved by not stopping every train at Manningtree and cutting out stops at Chelmsford which is well served by metro trains. The main problem with rail travel in the area is the condition of the stock.even the refurbished 156 I traveled on the other day had the original seat covers.how much would it have cost to replace them??? A really good deep clean and maybe some new carpets and they will be ok.

    Report this comment

    timmy_two_sheds

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • How about an extension to the GY Outer Harbour allowing bulk frieght haulage and rail containers?

    Report this comment

    Paul Morley

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • I dread travelling in those awful Class 153 single carriage "trains". The GEML 1980s carriages are a luxury compared to the 153s. Do our business leaders and politicans ever travel on the branch lines from Norwich? They appear obsessed with saving a few minutes on the GEML journey times and nothing else, not even the poor quality service from Norwich to Peterborough and beyond.

    Report this comment

    Port Watcher

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • Wow your life is pretty sad and organised if spending millions to shave 5 minutes off a 2 hour journey is a source of elation.

    Report this comment

    expat

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • Interesting use of the word “stakeholders” – who is first on the list, MPs! Can’t see it myself, other than the EDP reporting multiple rail “improvement” stories each month (or week?) which are little more than a platform for the usual MPs’ soundbites as part of relentless vote-chasing. Read on and this article reveals itself as a prequel by the adoring EDP to Chloe Smith’s PR gimmick for this week. A “summit” she is chairing in London on Thursday. Get your orders in for the EDP newspaper this Friday people. I anticipate record demand with at least the front page and a double-pager inside devoted to another sycophantic write-up. As for the website, expect coverage of little else over Thursday and Friday. I assume from the amount of coverage Chloe gets in the EDP that Nige is very impressed by her talents, but I for one am concerned that she may be spreading herself too thinly. I mean only last week she chaired a major talking shop to launch Jobs for Norwich Yoof, this week it’s to be a “once in a lifetime future of rail” summit, what’s planned for next week. How will she devote enough time to any of these “initiatives” to make any kind of worthwhile impact. Or am I missing the point of them?

    Report this comment

    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • Absolutely agree with Dave 1

    Report this comment

    Col

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • I guess they want their contract renewed. I'll believe it when I've seen it.

    Report this comment

    Jeffrey Osborne

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • In reply to an earlier comment (GR) the 156s were originally designed, I believe, for rural Scotland; long distances few stops, hence only two doors per side and that was many years ago. The single carriage class 153 was originally the 2 carriage 150 which was cut in half. The 150 and 153 were built by Leyland National Bus Co. using many Leyland bus parts, underframe, Cummins engine etc, Leyland also made the bogies and all steel framework and panels for them. It is an old bus on steel wheels in effect. The class 170 is a much better unit in so much as it has air conditioning and improved technical design features this should be the minimum standard for the 21st Century.

    Report this comment

    Dave01

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • They'll always take a very long time to get the fast-track let alone doing anything.Until the railway is back under common ownership,there are just whistling in the wind.

    Report this comment

    Peter Watson

    Tuesday, January 29, 2013

  • Oh do shut up!

    Report this comment

    Heading for Squalor

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • PortWatcher. You probably know that the class 153 (Single carriage) units were built by Leyland Bus using Leyland National Bus parts on Leyland Bus underframes and bogies. they originally started out as class 155 (2 carriage units) but were converted into single carriage units. The old Cummins engine wasn't really strong enough for 2 carriages. No air conditioning, nothing of any technical design note at all, yet Greater Anglia insist on leasing them old Leyland buses on metal wheels..

    Report this comment

    Dave01

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • The simple and cheap answer is for the trains to leave 5 minutes earlier than at present... that means every one will arrive 5 minutes earlier than at present and people will have to wait 5 minutes less for the train to leave so saving 5 minutes and also arriving 5 minutes earlier means saving 5 minutes again so actually makes 10 minutes when compared to present time for the whole journey. Plus if you get on the back of the train just as it leaves and walk through all the carriages to a reserved seat at the front you gain another 4 minutes because you walk less on the platform at London, so the saving is 14 minutes... you can't save more than 15 minutes though, otherwise you will be on the train that left 30 minutes before you. ...

    Report this comment

    Dave01

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • It is ok for Greater Anglia to be saying all this because all they are doing is asking for Network Rail upgrades. I notice Greater Anglia have made no effort to upgrade the old 1970s ex inter-city coaching stock (GEML) or replace the old basic class 153 or 156 retired sprinters that nobody else wanted. The only rolling stock upgrade has been class 156 C6 (disability access) work which was pre-planned by the leasing company. The rolling stock on Greater Anglia is so old that this alone makes for an uncomfortable journey compared to modern standards. It is still being operated as a 1980s railway company. There are many things that Network Rail can do (and will do in time as and when funds become available) yet there is plenty more Greater Anglia can do now, but wont. It clearly wants to be listed in the 'Latest Train and Rolling Stock Musuems and Preservationist guide!

    Report this comment

    Dave01

    Monday, January 28, 2013

  • Most of the Anglia unit stock class 170 153 and 156s is no different to stock used by any other rail company 156s are ideal for branch lines used in Scotland etc main line mk3s should be upgraded to the standard used on the east coat main line if they are good enough London to Scotland they must be good enough for Ga. the first class layout is still very good by today's standards and find the trip to London very comfortable still

    Report this comment

    Glenn Rivett

    Monday, January 28, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Homes24
Jobs24
Drive24
LocalSearch24
MyDate24
MyPhotos24
FamilyNotices24
Weddingsite

loading...

Classifieds, browse or search them online now

The Canary magazine
Order your copy of The Canary magazine

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT