Greater Anglia Builds Case for Regional Rail Investment
Train operator Greater Anglia is playing a pivotal role in building the case for regional rail investment in East Anglia. The company owned by Dutch operator Abellio which took over the main regional franchise in February, has been helping to coordinate and draft a new prospectus which sets out the case for greater investment in the region's rail network. Greater Anglia welcomes the launch of the prospectus on Monday 2 July by an influential and extensive alliance of MPs, local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships and Chambers of Commerce, highlighting the economic case for investment and key priorities for the remainder of this decade, as well as a 20 year vision.
It is the first time that such a region-wide approach to harness stakeholder support has been achieved for East Anglia and it aims to emulate the success of the "Northern Hub" scheme in the North of England where local authorities, politicians and business leaders in that region worked together to secure additional rail investment. The creation of this "manifesto" for investment is especially timely because a series of decisions on Government funding and objectives for the railways, Network Rail funding and investment plans for 2014-2019 and the specification/letting of the next Greater Anglia franchise will all be taken within the next 18 - 24 months.
Key aspirations being highlighted for the period to 2019 include:
Great Eastern Main Line (Norwich - Ipswich - Colchester - London)
Extra track capacity at Bow Junction near London, north of Chelmsford and other locations at the southern end of the route;
Increased line speed to 110mph for the majority of the route;
New InterCity trains (with full refurbishment of the existing trains in the meantime);
Full refurbishment of all suburban trains.
West Anglia route (Cambridge/Stansted Airport - Bishops Stortford - London)
Increased track capacity at the southern end of the route;
Increased line speed to 100mph on sections of the route;
New trains for all West Anglia services except the Stansted Express (which has just received new trains) or full refurbishment if trains aren't replaced in that period;
More frequent services to Stratford.
Upgrade for the Felixstowe - Peterborough line to benefit freight and passenger train services;
Specific upgrade for Ely North Junction to facilitate enhancements to services from Cambridge to Kings Lynn, Cambridge to Norwich and Ipswich to Peterborough;
Line speed improvements on some regional routes to 100mph and some local routes to 75mph;
Hourly Ipswich to Peterborough trains;
More frequent services on the Colchester - Clacton route.
Commenting on the launch of the prospectus, Ruud Haket, Managing Director for Greater Anglia said: “We’re passionate about playing our part in delivering major upgrades to train services in East Anglia in both the short and long term to meet customers and the region's aspirations. Many of the key decisions taken by the Government affecting rail investment - both via Network Rail and through the specification and funding of the next Greater Anglia franchise - will be taken in the next couple of years, so now is the time for all of us who care about the region's railways and its wider prosperity, to make the compelling case for rail investment in East Anglia.
“We have worked to help create a region-wide alliance of stakeholders and a prospectus which provides the priorities and justification for future rail upgrades. The joint launch by MPs, local authorities, LEPs, Chambers of Commerce of a rail manifesto, developed in partnership with Greater Anglia and Network Rail, and supported by rail user groups, is an important milestone, setting out key rail priorities, the economic benefits they offer and the overwhelming support for their implementation across our region.
“The prospectus can provide a focus for ongoing efforts to secure major rail enhancements for the region by influencing key decisions taken over the coming months. We look forward to continuing to work with regional stakeholders and Network Rail to secure the best deal for our railways.”