Greater Anglia Proposes Next Steps to Achieve Regional Rail Aspirations
Abellio train operator Greater Anglia today continued its proactive strategy to help secure upgrades for the rail network in East Anglia. Speaking at the East Anglian rail summit, held today at Westminster, Managing Director, Ruud Haket, set out a series of next steps to achieve significant enhancements by 2019. He outlined a number of attainable goals to be targeted on each of the three key cross-regional routes served by Greater Anglia:
• The Great Eastern Main Line (Norwich - Ipswich - Colchester - Chelmsford - London) where faster journey times (with line speeds of 110 mph) and additional tracks north of Chelmsford are the priority
• The West Anglia route (Cambridge/Bishops Stortford - Harlow - London) where faster journey times (with line speeds of 100mph) and a third track extending from Stratford north to Brimsdown are the aims
• The Felixstowe - Peterborough route (a key route for both freight and passenger trains) where extra loops on the Felixstowe branch, further track upgrades at Ely and other improvements at Ipswich are needed
Mr Haket also highlighted opportunities for smaller scale infrastructure upgrades on local routes across the region, as well as potential upgrades to service frequency and the rolling stock used on services in the region (including some extra services such as more frequent Ipswich to Peterborough services, which could be possible if additional trains were funded for the franchise). He welcomed the coordinated approach being taken by stakeholders to promote the economic, business and growth benefits of rail service enhancements and urged those present to continue to work together to secure the investment necessary to deliver a further positive step change in the East Anglian rail network. Only last week Mr Haket wrote to over 200 regional stakeholders asking them to contact the Department for Transport, the Office of Rail Regulation and Network Rail to support the call for the improvements to journey times and capacity on the Great Eastern Main Line and West Anglia route by 2019, to shape and influence Network Rail's investment plans for 2014 -2019 which will be finalised later this year. Already the company has received a number of positive responses to that approach.
Pledging to maintain Greater Anglia's proactive role in driving forward the regional rail agenda Mr Haket said:
"At Greater Anglia we are passionate about delivering better rail services for East Anglia. In less than a year of operating the franchise we have increased punctuality standards across our network to the highest levels for 12 years; invested in better communication with customers; launched a major training and skills programme for our employees, worked with Network Rail to reduce disruptive weekend engineering work and just this week heard that customer satisfaction has improved markedly.
However, there is much more to do to achieve greater consistency of performance and raise customer service standards further. Listening to and engaging with customers and stakeholders, it is clear that they are rightly seeking more progress on issues such as punctuality, capacity and the on-train travelling environment. We are absolutely committed to doing what we can to improve services further in the rest of our franchise to July 2014 and in trying to secure the funding for major upgrades to trains and infrastructure, where decisions taken in the next few months can influence upgrades beyond our current franchise term and ensure some significant steps forward. Working together, all of us who care about East Anglia's railways can make a real difference."