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East Anglia: Rail problems impact on business and commuters

PUBLISHED: 06:00 27 August 2014

Ben Gummer MP for Ipswich

Ben Gummer MP for Ipswich

Archant

Political and business leaders are demanding improvements to the region’s rail management after another day of disruption for travellers.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, a member of the East Anglian Rail Taskforce which is seeking major improvements to the region’s services, felt Network Rail’s promise to look again at next weekend’s engineering work was not a good enough response.

He said: “Much of the railway in this region is very out-dated. It needs to be modernised and the response to a problem like this should not be to put off the work. They should have got it right in the first place.

“I shall be speaking to Network Rail at the very highest level to make it clear that the standard of service we get in this region is quite unacceptable.”

He repeated his call from two weeks ago for heads to roll at Network Rail, saying: “It is clear that someone is not doing their job properly. Whoever that is needs to be replaced by someone who can do the job.”

And he warned that with the taskforce calling for new investment, they needed to be confident that Network Rail could deliver that investment without plunging the region’s railways into chaos.

His Labour opponent at next year’s general election David Ellesmere has been supportive of attempts to improve services to the region, but felt the priority should be getting the basics right.

He said: “It’s all very well to talk about getting to Norwich in 90 minutes or Ipswich in 60 minutes – but if you’re not able to get the basics right like doing engineering work on time, what’s the point?

“We should be concentrating on getting the trains running reliably on track that works so people can travel in reasonable comfort for affordable fares.”

He said it was also important that there was a reliable rail link for businesses considering relocating to the town.

Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, which is heading the Great Eastern Rail Campaign, said: “Once again long-suffering rail passengers in our region have been late for work, missed meetings or important appointments.

“They rightly feel they are not getting good value for money or the service they deserve.

“It is vital for our region’s economy that we have a robust and reliable train service which is why we are campaigning for significant investment in the Great Eastern Main Line and, together with our partners across Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk, will be taking our case to Government in the autumn.”

Suffolk Coastal MP Therse Coffey was also disappointed by the engineering over-run. She said: “This is very poor by Network Rail again today.

“They had previously given assurances that the works at Ipswich Station would be complete by this morning but they have over-run again as did the works two week ago, causing major disruption.

“This is unacceptable for commuters returning to work after the bank holiday weekend and it’s appalling that the service to Felixstowe has been cancelled for the entire day.”

Witham MP Priti Patel faced questions over the prospect of a possible Cabinet return this morning in her first broadcast interview since quitting over her secret meetings with senior Israeli figures last year.

This is the last week that market traders will operate from Ipswich’s Cornhill for at least a year as work to rebuild the town centre is due to start.

Young apprentices in Haverhill have been honoured at an awards ceremony held to celebrate their successes and achievements.

Drivers are being warned they could face delays as roadworks begin at one of Ipswich’s busiest junctions this morning.

The government has still not agreed a deal to end its £50m commitment for the regional fire control “white elephant” in Cambridgeshire – nearly two years after negotiations started.

A police helicopter was involved in a search which continues this morning for a motorist involved in a single-vehicle crash in Suffolk last night.

James Blunt and Plan B have joined this year’s Newmarket Nights line-up.

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