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High-speed rail link wins business backing

PUBLISHED: 07:00 13 March 2010 | UPDATED: 08:47 02 July 2010

Chloe Smith MP signs up for the Norwich in 90 campaign with Caroline Williams, chief executive of Norfolk chamber of commerce and Chris Starkie, chief executive of Shaping Norfolk's Future.

Chloe Smith MP signs up for the Norwich in 90 campaign with Caroline Williams, chief executive of Norfolk chamber of commerce and Chris Starkie, chief executive of Shaping Norfolk's Future.

Kim Briscoe

Two leading business groups are backing a campaign to improve rail services on the Norwich to London line.

The Federation of Small Businesses and the Institute of Directors have thrown their weight behind the Norwich in 90 campaign, which wants to see faster more reliable rail services as part of the new Greater Anglia rail franchise.

Two leading business groups are backing a campaign to improve rail services on the Norwich to London line.

The Federation of Small Businesses and the Institute of Directors have thrown their weight behind the Norwich in 90 campaign, which wants to see faster more reliable rail services as part of the new Greater Anglia rail franchise.

They join an ever growing list of supporters, which includes Norfolk County Council, Norwich City Council and the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce.

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith also added her backing to the call for improvements at Norwich Station yesterday.

The campaign is being co-ordinated by private-sector led economic development partnership Shaping Norfolk's Future.

So far more than 1,000 individuals have signed up to an online petition, with dozens more adding their names to a paper version.

Robin Twigge, Federation of Small Businesses East Anglia regional chairman, said: “The Federation of Small Businesses is pleased to back the 'Norwich in 90'campaign and is encouraging all our small business members to add their support and get behind it.

“Norwich needs better transport links and a faster, higher quality rail service to London in order for our economy to grow and prosper.”

Nick Farrow, chairman of the Institute of Directors, president of the Royal Warrant Holders Association and director of Farrows, said: “Most business people you speak to will agree that our mainline train service from Norwich to London is poor.

“Not only is the normal duration too long for the distance covered, but the trains rarely arrive on time anyway.

“A 90-minute journey time is certainly preferable and easily achievable with the right investment combined with a decent operator.

“On a personal note, I was so fed up of being late for my London meetings that I bought a hybrid car and now drive to London.”

The campaign is also asking for increased capacity trains, particularly towards the Essex end of the line, improvements to stations and newer and cleaner trains, throughout the region and not just on the Norwich to London line.

With the public's support, it is hoped the campaign will encourage the government to include many of the improvements as mandatory in the new Greater Anglia rail franchise.

Chris Starkie, chief executive of Shaping Norfolk's Future, said: “We're delighted the FSB and IoD are backing the campaign, along with dozens of other organisations across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

“The Department for Transport will be left in no doubt over the strength of feeling from people in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex on this.”

To sign the online petition go to www.gopetition.com/petitions/norwich-in-ninety.html.

For more information on the campaign log onto www.shapingnorfolksfuture.org.uk.

Do you have a story for the Evening News? Contact reporter Kim Briscoe on 01603 772419 or email kim.briscoe@archant.co.uk.

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