Greater Anglia and regional stakeholders build case for investment in the Great Eastern Main Line
Regional train operator Greater Anglia (part of the Abellio Group) is working with regional stakeholders to build the case for investment and upgrades for the Norwich - Ipswich - Colchester - Chelmsford - London main line (known as the Great Eastern Main Line or GEML). Head of Corporate Affairs, Jonathan Denby, joined representatives from Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex County Councils at Chelmsford station on Tuesday 18 December to highlight some of the opportunities identified in a major study commissioned by Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex County Councils and supported by Greater Anglia and the New Anglia and South East Local Enterprise Partnerships.
The publication of the Great Eastern Mainline Capacity Study, carried out by Atkins, was marked by a photocall at 3pm on Tuesday 18 December 2012 at Chelmsford Railway Station, attended by:
· Cllr Graham Plant, Cabinet Member for Planning and Transportation at Norfolk County Council,
· Cllr Guy McGregor, Cabinet Member for Roads and Transport at Suffolk County Council,
· Cllr Penny Channer, Deputy Cabinet Member for Transport at Essex County Council,
· Jonathan Denby, Head of Corporate Affairs, Greater Anglia.
· Emma Finn, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (NALEP)
The study suggests that a major upgrade for the route would be expected to generate £2.5 billion worth of economic benefits. It recommends a number of steps including :
· The remodelling of Bow Junction near Stratford (to provide additional capacity in/out of London);
· The provision of a new three-tracked section at Boreham, north of Chelmsford.
· Raising line speeds between London Liverpool Street and Norwich to a maximum of 125 mph, with associated infrastructure improvements;
· Refurbishing or replacing the intercity rolling stock on the Norwich - London intercity services;
· Refurbishing or replacing commuter rolling stock.
It is expected that the next steps to take forward the aspirations for an upgraded GEML will be as follows :
· Ask Network Rail to review the study and validate the best ways of securing better journey times and additional capacity
· For stakeholders to make a strong case to the Government for tangible, infrastructure improvements (such as the Bow Junction scheme, new passing loops north of Chelmsford and line speed improvements) to be in place by the end of the next Network Rail funding period (April 2019)
· For stakeholders to also make a compelling case to the Government for rolling stock upgrades as part of the next franchise renewal process
Greater Anglia will continue to play a proactive role in helping to secure further enhancements for the region's railways in the medium to long term, as well as delivering as many improvements as possible in its short term franchise to 2014. Already the company has played a pivotal role in the development of the East Anglian Rail Prospectus and the regional stakeholder alliance which is now pressing for improvements.
Jonathan Denby, Head of Corporate Affairs for Greater Anglia said : "We are committed to working with our partners in the region to secure significant upgrades for train services in East Anglia. We have already delivered a number of enhancements in the ten months since our franchise began, including some notable initiatives (such as better weekend services on the GEML) achieved through closer working from our alliance with Network Rail. It is clear that this collaborative approach, allied with a strong, evidence-based business case is the best way to try and ensure we gain the investment necessary to realise passengers and stakeholders' future aspirations.