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Bid to improve mainline train travel gets boost

PUBLISHED: 08:33 25 July 2014 | UPDATED: 08:33 25 July 2014

Mark pendlington, Ben Gummer MP, and Chloe Smith MP, with former transport minister Stephen Hammond on Ipswich Station

Mark pendlington, Ben Gummer MP, and Chloe Smith MP, with former transport minister Stephen Hammond on Ipswich Station

The campaign to see major improvements on the main line between East Anglia and London is taking a major step forward today with a bid for widespread public support.

The Great Eastern Rail Campaign is being launched by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership to build on the work of a taskforce made up from the region’s MPs and business leaders.

The LEP is hoping to attract public support for the campaign as the Department for Transport starts to look at requirements for the next rail franchise over the next few months.

Key aims of the campaign are to see a significant investment in track infrastructure, get better trains with more seats and carriages, and a higher-quality travelling experience.

The overall goal is to achieve London to Chelmsford in 25 minutes, Colchester in 40, Ipswich in 60 and Norwich in 90.

The taskforce is due to report to Government in November, making the strong economic case for investment in the line. Now it hopes the Great Eastern Rail Campaign will encourage commuters, businesses and all rail users to get behind the cause and sign up via the new website and follow the campaign on Twitter using hashtag #gerailcampaign.

The campaign is already “backed by business” with the Chambers of Commerce from Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk, leading businesses such as Willis Group, Aviva and John Lewis already signed up, as well as local authorities.

Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP, said: “Today is a rallying call for all those who want a better rail service.

“For too long East Anglia has suffered from under investment in our rail network. Let’s make our voice heard loud and clear and get the rail service the three counties need and deserve.”

Toby Coke, chairman of Norfolk County Council’s Environment, Development & Transport Committee, said: “Investment in the London to Norwich mainline can deliver big economic benefits along the whole route, and at a fraction of the cost of HS2.

“We must not let the Great Eastern Mail Line be the Cinderella rail service once again while billions is invested elsewhere.”

Jamie Burles, managing director for Abellio Greater Anglia said: “We are passionate about securing and delivering major upgrades for the Great Eastern Main Line.”

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