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Great Eastern investment will unlock billions in economic benefits – report

Investing half a billion pounds in the Great Eastern Main Line (GEML) will deliver up to £4.5bn in wider economic benefits and create thousands of jobs. 

This is the conclusion of the Great Eastern Rail Campaign’s long-awaited report, which has been submitted to the government. 

Their key aim is a regular London to Norwich service of 90 minutes, down from 109, with no reduction in current stopping patterns, using improved rolling stock. The campaigners say a £476m investment in track upgrades, signalling and OLE will achieve this, with 110mph services, timetable changes including an additional service per hour, and changes to freight paths. 

After months of campaigning, involving support from thousands of rail passengers, businesses, local authorities, MPs and education leaders across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, the study details the key improvements needed to bring better, faster trains and delivering improved journey times to passengers in the region. 

It also asks the government for new rolling stock to be included in the Greater Anglia rail franchise tender to be announced in 2015. 

The government has already given current franchise owner Abellio a two-year extension, with one of the conditions being a refurbishment of the TOC’s fleet of 121 Mark 3 carriages. That work will start early next year and should be completed by the end of the current franchise. 

In a letter to the chancellor accompanying the report, which has been signed by more than 100 of the most senior business and education leaders in the region, Mark Pendlington, chair of the New Anglia LEP and Chloe Smith MP, both joint chairs of the Great Eastern Main Line Rail Taskforce, made a plea on behalf of East Anglia. 

“Your decision for this Autumn Statement is simple: We ask you to confirm the infrastructure improvements needed to unlock the economic potential of the region through faster more reliable services; and provide for new rolling stock on the GEML for better journeys,” they said. 

Greater Anglia’s inter-city services have only 84% of trains running to time against a target of 93%. 

The campaigners argue that the current “status quo” is not an option and “we cannot afford to lose out on this opportunity to secure the much needed investment for the GEML to unlock economic growth”. 

Their plan would see a regular, more reliable rail service between London and Norwich with a headline journey time of 90 minutes and no reduction in current stopping patterns. 

In addition, it estimated that a total of 3,145 full-time construction jobs will be created by investing and improving the GEML. The proposals will also create 8,200 new jobs in Norwich, just under 10,000 new jobs in Ipswich, some 16,000 new jobs in Chelmsford and 14,000 in Colchester. 

Ben Gummer MP for Ipswich and member of the Rail Taskforce said: “This is an important day for East Anglia. This is a signal of our determination to see investment in our transport infrastructure so that we can realise our economic potential and create the jobs and prosperity that is within our reach.” 

To read the full report, click here

GEML Taskforce schedule of events: 

  • Monday November 10 – Meeting with Patrick McLoughlin MP, Secretary of State for Transport to discuss the Report & business case for improvements works
  • Friday 14 November – 2014 Suffolk Rail Conference. Key stakeholders from the region will present to the conference regarding the work of the Taskforce and wider rail issues
  • Tuesday 18 November – Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin MP, will address a meeting organised by the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and New Anglia LEP on the work of the Taskforce
  • Friday 28 November – Chloe Smith MP will host the final regional stakeholder meeting with the Taskforce to discuss the final stages of the Taskforce work
  • Wednesday 3 December – Chancellor to deliver Autumn Statement

(Image: c. David Jones)

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


Nonsuchmike   07/11/2014 at 15:22

Nowhere, not even in the clickable Full Report, do I see justification for the extraordinary claims as to improved employment along the lines so claimed for the towns mentioned in East Anglia. So, on the strength/weakness of those hypothetical figures one is less than confident of the 3 000+ full time jobs needed to carry out these improvements over a time span not specified. Much as one would delight in seeing these impressive plans for improvements come to fruition, one cannot help but consider that more modest advances like the laying down of more track by dualling more currently single track lines and putting more trains/carriages to work over them might be a more modest enterprise. The above will be of far more benefit to more passengers and more freight services more quickly, more efficiently and more economically over a more realistic and shorter time frame. Although this report is attempting to upgrade to 110 mph working the whole project smacks of HS4!

Angliafreak   31/07/2015 at 13:12

To enable 110mph, then all 13 crssoings would have to be done away with or converted to full barriers with CCTV or manned, No Capacity beyond Colchester or Shenfield...

Simon J   01/08/2015 at 06:41

Rather than a 'theoretical' Norwich in Ninety - which crossrail will put paid to when it takes over 2 lines from Shenfield to Liverpool Street and everything else will need to use the current 'fast' lines it would be better to electrify from Trowse Upper Junction to Ely North Junction, even modest line speed improvements on this line would make it Norwich to Kings Cross in 100 minutes - with a little more work it would be relatively easy to reduce that further.

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