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Greater Anglia to lobby government for investment in 10-point upgrade plea

Greater Anglia has laid out 10 key rail infrastructure priorities that need to be made within the next decade in order for the planned benefits of its own franchise commitments to be “fully realised”.

In a statement, the operator, owned by Abellio with Mitsui as a 40% shareholder, said it is currently writing to regional partners – including MPs, councils, LEPs, rail user groups and chambers of commerce – to seek their support in lobbying the government for more investment.

It is arguing that ministers need to adequately resource Network Rail so that it can implement vital schemes within the next decade, most of which are clustered on the Great Eastern Main Line – although improvements to the West Anglia Main Line and the Felixstowe to Peterborough route were also requested.

Although the new Greater Anglia franchise includes “transformative upgrades” for regional services – such as replacing the entire existing rolling stock with new trains by 2020 – the operator said benefits to timetable and capacity relied on infrastructure improvements outside their reach.

Jamie Burles, the operator’s managing director, emphasised that Network Rail had to implement these changes in parallel with Greater Anglia’s own improvements.

“The business case is strong for such investment in a region which contributes positively to national GDP and where financial premiums from operating East Anglia’s train services help finance the operation of other rail services across the rest of the UK rail network,” he added.

“We have set out a targeted list of priorities, which will make a major difference to reliability, connectivity, journey times and service development.

“The collective effort of ourselves and stakeholders across the region helped secure a fantastic outcome to the franchise renewal process with the biggest investment ever agreed for trains in East Anglia. We now need to maintain that sustained, collaborative, constructive approach to secure a similarly positive outcome for rail infrastructure investment over the next 10 years and thereby enable Network Rail to upgrade the network and maximise the benefits for customers, communities and wider stakeholders across the region.”

The full list of requested upgrades, which includes four-tracking of the West Anglia route from Copper Mill Junction to Broxbourne and increasing capacity at London Liverpool Street, is as follows:

  • Felixstowe – Peterborough (and Nuneaton)
    • Haughley Junction upgrade (to enable more frequent and reliable services)
    • Ely area upgrades (including Ely North Junction, Queen Adelaide level crossings, re-signalling and bridge strengthening, to enable more frequent and reliable services)
    • Ely – Soham double tracking project (to enable more frequent freight and passenger services)
  • Great Eastern Main Line (Norwich – Ipswich – Colchester – Chelmsford – London)
    • Trowse Swing Bridge replacement (with a fixed double track bridge, instead of the current single track swing bridge to enable more frequent and reliable services)
    • Long loops between Colchester and Witham (to allow fast trains to overtake slower full length freight or passenger trains, helping to improve reliability and journey times)
    • Digital re-signalling Colchester to London (to enable more frequent services)
  • West Anglia Main Line
    • Capacity upgrades to enable 4 trains an hour between Angel Road and Tottenham/Stratford
    • Four-tracking of the West Anglia route from Copper Mill Junction to Broxbourne as the first stage of the Crossrail 2 scheme (to enable more frequent services, quicker journey times and better reliability)
  • Other key projects
    • Wider level crossing upgrade programme (to improve reliability and journey times)
    • London Liverpool Street capacity increases (platform and concourse upgrades to accommodate increasing passenger numbers)

According to Greater Anglia, these priorities are consistent with the East Anglian Rail Prospectus and the aims of the Great Eastern Main Line, West Anglia and Ely taskforces, as well as the Felixstowe-Nuneaton strategic freight network project.

Network Rail’s five-year spending plan for CP6 has not yet been approved by the DfT, with representations currently being made to determine expenditure from 2019 to 2024.

However, the ORR’s annual assessment of Network Rail, published in August last year, estimated that the infrastructure owner will be “in a worse position financially” at the start of CP6 than initially expected, which is likely to exacerbate the economic pressure on planned upgrades.


Lutz   08/02/2017 at 19:32

What happened to the "Norwich in Ninety" and where do these proposals sit in relation to those in the former?

Andrew Gwilt   08/02/2017 at 21:33

What about a new passing loop at Cressing on the Braintree Line to allow 2 trains to pass with one coming from London Liverpool Street or Witham and one from Braintree.

Andrew Gwilt   08/02/2017 at 21:42

Not to mention a new proposed Beaulieu railway station in Chelmsford to be built in 2020/2021 with new park & ride, car park spaces, 3 new platforms, waiting room, toilets, ticket kiosks, ticket machines, ticket barriers and local bus connection into Chelmsford City Centre. And also improvements to Colchester North station with a refurbished new entrance and other improvements at other stations such as installing new LED information screens at stations including Ingatestone, Rayleigh, Hockley, Rochford, Prittlewell and station improvements at Southend Victoria station.

Andrew JG   09/02/2017 at 03:04

One thing I can not wait is the new trains that are to be built from 2019 to replace the older rolling stocks units used on the GA network including replacing the Class 153's, Class 156's and Class 170's "Turbostar" Diesel multiple unit (DMU) trains on the regional lines in East Anglia and to replace the Class 321's, Class 317's, Class 360's "Desiro" and Class 379's "Electrostar" Electric multiple unit (EMU) trains used on the West Anglia (Stansted Express) and Great Eastern "Ipswich & Essex" routes and the Class 90's "Mk3" Intercity rolling stock trains used on the London-Norwich service that takes around 90 minutes. I love the way that Greater Anglia are to spend £millions on improving the network. I'm fareness. I live in Essex and I'm sick of so many delays and disruptions that is causing so much of a headache to all commuters and passengers who use Greater Anglia to get & from London and East Anglia which has been like it for years including signaling problems, overhead wiring problems, track defects, disruptive passenger, fatalities on the railways, trespassing and yes it's a nightmare. Plus work is still continuing on the overhead wiring renewal works and Crossrail works which at weekends you have to use replacement buses or find alternative arrangements if you are planning to go to London on a Saturday or Sunday and it's a nightmare because of engineering works. But I do hope this will end once the whole engineering works and Crossrail works is completed.

Noam   09/02/2017 at 09:29

So do I understand this right? Abellio signed up to improvements as part of the franchise deal, but now say they can't deliver them without these uncommitted upgrades?

Andrew G   09/02/2017 at 20:15

Greater Anglia has now received 10 Class 321's being transferred from Great Northern (with 2 Class 321's being transferred to Scotrail to be renumbered as Class 320's) as GN are now using 29 Class 387's aswell the current Class 365's which is also due to be replaced very soon if GA may transfer the 30 Class 379's to GN as new trains are to be ordered for GA. Which means GN could be able to replace the Class 365's to be transferred to another operator such as GWR which they are also ordering 45 Class 387's to be used on Paddington-Newbury/Reading Thames Valley services and other services such as Reading-Gatwick Airport (if the DC 750v 3rd rail electrification gets the go ahead to electrify some parts of the North Downs Line). With some of the Class 387's now in service operating between Paddington and Hayes & Harlington.

Richard   09/02/2017 at 23:11

Noam has read the writing on the wall with this "Announcement". We now know the excuses that will be peddled when all the promises fail to materialise in the new Franchise. Already new money has had to be brought in by bringing in a "Partner" (a Bank?) and anyone with any realism will know that all these required upgrades will never happen, as much as we'd like them. So essentially new trains, with many services losing 1st class, the customary rocks for seats which are new train standard these days and a complete loss of the Inter-City standard, will be it. Journey times effectively unchanged and frequency increases capped by capacity restraints. By the way AndrewG (or Andrew JG dependent on comment) I believe your theorytical stock transfers are somewhat awry of reality!

Andrew JG   10/02/2017 at 11:32

Fair point Richard.

Anglia Man   10/02/2017 at 13:44

Although the Kennett–Ely line (currently known as Ipswich–Ely line or formerly known as Ely and Newmarket Railway) is to be upgraded to double track. Soham is planning to have a railway station to be reopened possibly in few years time as Soham used to have a railway station which opened on 1st September 1879 and closed on 13th September 1965. Possibly due to the Beeching Axe. Network Rail has released a five-year upgrade plan, which includes the reopening of the brand new Soham railway station as part of improvements to the Kennett-Ely line with new ticket kiosks, station concourse, 2 new platforms with footbridge and 2 lifts, ticket machines, car park spaces and local bus connection to nearby villages and to introduce a 1 1/2 hourly service between Ipswich/Bury St. Edmunds and Peterborough via Ely.

M   12/02/2017 at 10:42

Noam - that would depend on what infrastructure works were listed as being "assumptions" in the Franchise Tender documents. If the bidders were required to base their franchise plans and business model on these works taking place by certain dates, then it is quite reasonable for the franchisee to put pressure upon the DfT (as both franchisor and owner of Network Rail) for those works to go ahead within the timescales required for the franchisee to deliver its part of the contract, else it will be up to the DfT to renegotiate the franchise agreement to take into account the lack of delivery of these works.

Anglia Man   13/02/2017 at 00:54

I would like to see a new passing loop built at Cressing to allow 2 trains to pass and to operate a 1/3 hour-1 hourly service between London Liverpool St and Braintree if the passing loop does get the go ahead to be built.

Mr Essex Lad   17/02/2017 at 15:18

I do hope that the passing loop on the Braintree line does get approved because it will improve the branch line with 2 trains running to/from London Liverpool St, Witham and Braintree with a 1/3 hourly service to be introduced once the new loop at Cressing is built just like at North Fambridge on the Wickford-Southminster line. Please build a new passing loop on the Braintree line to introduce extra trains to operate between Braintree and London. Or a hourly service.

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