East Anglia: New rail campaign aims to build on work of task force
PUBLISHED: 12:40 25 July 2014 | UPDATED: 12:40 25 July 2014
The campaign to see major improvements on the main line between East Anglia and London is taking a major step forward today with a bid for widespread public support.
East Anglia’s trains are some of the oldest on the network – the average age is 25.5 years.
By 2026 there will be an estimated additional 4,000 rail trips in the morning peak period on the GEML.
30 million passenger journeys are made annually on the Great Eastern Main Line and over 11,000 services operate every four weeks (excluding Metro services south of Shenfield).
Investment in the GEML will contribute towards reduced congestion on the A12 between London and Ipswich.
Investment in the GEML will generate £3.4 billion in transport-related economic impacts and a further £280 million in wider impacts within the East of England according to consultants Atkins.
The Great Eastern Rail Campaign is being launched by the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership to build on the work of the task force of the region’s MPs and business leaders which is seeking major investment.
The LEP is hoping to attract public support for the campaign as the Department for Transport starts to look at requirements for the next rail franchise over the next few months.
Key aims of the campaign are to see a significant investment in track infrastructure, get better trains and a higher quality travelling experience and having more capacity with more seats and more carriages.
The overall goal is to achieve London to Chelmsford in 25 minutes, Colchester in 40, Ipswich in 60 and Norwich in 90.
The taskforce is due to report to Government in November making the strong economic case for investment in the line.
Now it hopes the Great Eastern Rail Campaign will encourage commuters, businesses and all rail users to get behind the cause and sign up via the new website newanglia.co.uk/gerailcampaign and follow the campaign on twitter with #gerailcampaign.
The campaign is already “backed by business” with the Chambers of Commerce from Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk, leading businesses such as Willis Group, Aviva and John Lewis already signed up, as well as local authorities.
Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP, said: “Today is a rallying call for all those who want a better rail service across Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk.
“For too long East Anglia has suffered from under investment in our rail network. Let’s make our voice heard loud and clear to influence Government and get the rail service the three counties need and deserve.
“The Great Eastern Main Line is fundamental to the region’s future growth.
“A better, faster service will provide vital employment opportunities for commuters, attract further inward investment, and boost tourism by ensuring more tourists can visit and spend their money in the local economy.”
Jamie Burles, Managing Director for Abellio Greater Anglia said: “We are fully supportive of the Great Eastern Rail Campaign.
“We are passionate about securing and delivering major upgrades for the Great Eastern Main Line. The next year provides a crucial window to influence major investment decisions.”
Ben Gummer, MP for Ipswich and taskforce member said: “The taskforce continues its work, now looking at detailed options for improving journey time, which will go into the business case we are producing in the autumn.
“Today’s meeting is an important step in what will be a long road to bringing a better, faster, more reliable train service to Ipswich.”
Ipswich council leader David Ellesmere said: “We urgently need more investment in our rail line to and from London.
“For too long we have suffered from dated rolling stock and unreliable service times – putting this right should be a government priority and will help Ipswich fulfil its position as the regional centre for this part of East Anglia.”
John Dugmore, chief executive, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce said: “An upgraded rail infrastructure and better quality trains are fundamental to the continued and future success of business across Suffolk and Norfolk. That is why this campaign is so important and why its success will build on the foundations of our economic prosperity.
David Burch from Essex Chambers of Commerce said: “The Great Eastern main line is a vital artery for businesses, commuters and residents alike and Essex Chambers of Commerce fully support the Great Eastern Rail Campaign in its aspirations to deliver better and faster trains to its users.”