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Anglia study lists possible upgrades – critics attack ‘lack of ambition’

Network Rail has outlined the infrastructure upgrades it could carry out from CP6 on the Anglia route to accommodate the huge growth in demand from passengers and freight over the next 30 years.

The draft Anglia route study considers the main lines from London Liverpool Street to Norwich and Cambridge and their respective branch lines, as well as the lines from London Fenchurch Street to Shoeburyness and Felixstowe to Peterborough via Ely.

Forecasts show that, within a decade, demand for rail travel on the Great Eastern Main Line into Liverpool Street from stations in Essex is expected to grow by 52%, with demand from stations in Suffolk and Norfolk expected to grow by 32%. Over the same period, demand from stations on the West Anglia Main Line, which runs from Cambridge to Liverpool Street, is expected to grow by at least 18% depending on housing growth.

Among the potential options for the Great Eastern Main Line identified in the study are:

  • Upgrading track, signalling and overhead line equipment to increase line speed between Shenfield and Norwich to 110mph, reducing journey times between London and Norwich to 90 minutes
  • Additional platforms at Liverpool Street to increase capacity
  • Further upgrading signalling technology which means more trains can run on the existing network
  • Doubling of Trowse swing bridge – this would help towards increasing capacity from Norwich to London as well as from Norwich to Cambridge
  • Installing a loop (new track) at Haughley Junction and Witham to separate passenger and freight services to help achieve faster journey times between London and Norwich
  • Further doubling of the Felixstowe branch line to accommodate the forecast increase in freight services

Among the potential options for the West Anglia main line identified in the study are:

  • Longer trains on the West Anglia Main Line. This would require platform extensions across this part of the network
  • Journey time improvements on the West Anglia Main Line
  • Other options include, adding two extra tracks to the West Anglia Main Line south of Broxbourne to increase capacity and doubling the single line tunnel to Stansted Airport

Among the potential options for the line from Fenchurch Street identified in the study are:

  • Adding extra carriages to existing services to meet passenger demand
  • Further upgrades at Fenchurch Street station to cope with passenger demand

The Anglia route study also looks at potential options to increase capacity on the North London Line and the line from Gospel Oak to Barking. These include additional platforms at either Gospel Oak or Barking and running longer trains on the North London line.


Richard Schofield, Network Rail route managing director, said: “The lines out of Liverpool Street are already benefitting from a significant programme of investment over the next five years, but there is more we will need to do to keep up with the continuing growth in demand for rail travel.

“Over the last 20 years the industry has been able to massively increase the frequency of services, but we’re fast approaching the point where there simply isn’t any more space for more trains on the busiest parts of the network. We have to look at ways of increasing the capacity of our network further, including new technology to allow more trains to run on existing tracks, and perhaps building new tracks in key locations. It is fantastic that more and more people want to travel by train and we want to provide the railway to take them where they are going.”

The study says that these options, if implemented, should provide enough capacity to cope with the expected growth in the next decade. The study also considers how the railway should meet more long-term demand and looks at options to increase capacity up to 2043 – the limit of the report. 

But the study has been criticised as a “missed opportunity” and having a “lack of ambition” by those wanting more extensive upgrades on the West Anglia Main Line from London to Stansted Airport and Cambridge.

The London Stansted Cambridge Consortium (LSCC), representing businesses and public organisations, is dismayed that the study appears to ignore the Davies Commission recommendations to improve links to Stansted Airport, in particular for a four-track line as far as Broxbourne Junction.

The study says: “Further journey time improvements on services to Cambridge and Stansted Airport would depend on the ability to separate fast trains from slow trains south of Broxbourne. This is likely to require an additional pair of tracks between Broxbourne and Tottenham Hale, the cost of which, however, may not be justified by journey time improvements alone.”

The LSCC said: “The study fails to take account of this substantial projected population growth, and the rapid growth of Stansted Airport which has seen nearly 1.5 million extra passengers in the last year. With investment in the rail service, high-tech businesses along the route will be able to grow, and the building of tens of thousands of much needed new homes will be unlocked.”

They have been backed by the Airport, which urged Network Rail to “show more ambition and greater vision to deliver faster rail services to unlock the airport’s potential and improve services for commuters”.

LSCC chair Greg Clark said: “The London-Stansted-Cambridge route is one of the key high growth opportunity areas for the UK and Europe and we think that Network Rail’s plan is a missed opportunity to bring forward a sustained programme of investment, which will eventually result in high tech firms and talent leaving the UK to grow elsewhere.

“In respect of Stansted services, the Davies Commission called for an improved airport rail link as part of creating a competitive aviation market in the south east. Improving this link would represent a real investment in aviation capacity without the downsides of a new runway.

“Yet Network Rail is not even carrying out a proper feasibility study into how to deliver these benefits. We now call on the Chancellor, George Osborne, to over-rule Network Rail and fund the feasibility study directly.”

Consultation on the draft Anglia Route Study is open until February 3 2015. After the conclusion of the formal consultation phase, the Anglia Route Study Working Group will consider further work that may be required to conclude the study, prior to publication of the final document in the summer of 2015. The study will then be used to inform the Department for Transport’s strategy for the industry’s next control period from 2019 to 2024.

(Image: c. Joshua Brown)

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