Work begins on £2.2bn upgrade programme to improve East Anglia’s train services

Greater Anglia train on the Norwich to Cambridge route via Ely. (Class 170). Photo: Bill Smith Greater Anglia train on the Norwich to Cambridge route via Ely. (Class 170). Photo: Bill Smith

Mark Shields mark.shields@archant.co.uk
Monday, March 31, 2014
7:49 AM

A multi-billion-pound rail upgrade programme starts tomorrow, with passengers being promised more reliable services.

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Network Rail’s £2.2bn investment over the next five years will see the rebuilding of Ely Junction North which will relieve congestion between Norwich and Cambridge.

Other improvements on the Norwich-to-London Great Eastern Mainline include upgrading overhead cables near the capital, replacing tracks and renewing points around Colchester, and rebuilding Bow Junction to create more capacity at London Liverpool Street.

A new rail operating centre controlling the railway in East Anglia will open in Romford and level crossing safety will be improved.

The completion of the Crossrail station at London Liverpool Street could also reduce congestion on mainline services, as will work to the cross-country route for freight from Felixstowe.

The upgrades are necessary to achieve the journey time reductions sought by the task group set up by Chancellor George Osborne last year, which targets Norwich to London in 90 minutes.

Richard Schofield, route managing director for Network Rail, has previously likened the Norwich-to-London line to “driving a Morris Minor up the M1”.

He said: “By 2019, we will have a new station for Crossrail at Liverpool Street, [have] rebuilt key junctions, renewed overhead power lines and upgraded signalling. Over the next five years, we will work tirelessly to deliver real improvements and bring ageing parts of the network into the 21st century. Finally, this vital investment will support and encourage economic growth across the East of England.”

Adam Golton, Abellio Greater Anglia’s interim managing director, said work with Network Rail had delivered service improvements since taking over the franchise in February 2012. He said they would be making the case for further investment to provide “better reliability, improved journey times and more capacity for the region’s rail passengers”.

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