East Anglia: New five-year plan for rail starts but more investment still sought

Travellers are facing rail delays in Ipswich Travellers are facing rail delays in Ipswich

Paul Geater paul.geater@archant.co.uk
Monday, March 31, 2014
10:35 AM

Network Rail’s new five-year plan starts tomorrow with the promise of improved services in the region.

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But the battle for yet more improvements to East Anglia’s rail network has been raised up the political agenda as passenger and freight demand is expected to soar.

Network Rail’s “Control Period Five” is due to see upgrades to the main line to London and improvements to the cross-country route from Felixstowe to Nuneaton.

However politicians are to keep up the pressure on the Department for Transport and NR bosses to ensure that the full electrification of the cross-country route is completed by 2024.

And there are hopes that a new cross-country electric route from Felixstowe to the west country and South Wales could be opened by the same time.

The next five years will see the long-awaited opening of the Crossrail service under the heart of London which will see trains travelling direct from Shenfield to Reading.

This will ease congestion at the existing Liverpool Street station.

There will be major changes at Colchester station, including an extension built to one of its platforms, and several

level crossings on the main line are to be closed enabling trains to travel faster and safer.

Haughley junction, where the cross-country line leaves the main line just north of Stowmarket, is set to be rebuilt to enable trains to travel over it at full speed.

Richard Schofield, Network Rail route managing director said: “The railway in East Anglia is getting busier and passenger numbers are growing year on year.

“Our response now is to meet the demands placed by the travelling public to deliver more reliable journeys and a safer railway for everyone.

“Over the next five years, we will work tirelessly to deliver real improvements and bring ageing parts of the network into the 21st century. Finally, this vital investment will support and encourage economic growth across the East of England.”

As engineering work gets under way on these projects, planning will be stepped up for the next five-year programme for 2019-25.

This is expected to include proposals to build extra tracks on the main line in Essex north of Chelmsford to ease pressure on the main line.

And there is increased confidence among local MPs and businesses that the cross-country electrification will be included.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said: “We are at an important point now, but over the next 10 years there is the strong possibility of a real transformation in the region’s rail network. There’s a lot of work to do but we have to keep up the pressure to ensure we get the investment.”

4 comments

  • Yes, wahoooo, crossrail!!! hang on a minute... doesn't exactly go anywhere near Ipswich or Suffolk for that matter. Shenfield and Colchester are in Essex... only Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire is in East Anglia... Essex and others do fall into "East of England" (in addition to East Anglian counties) but not East Anglia. The rail chord in Ipswich is hardly an improvement for passengers no matter how you look at it... Felixstowe line to my knowledge is a single track (i.e. bottleneck) and freight trains really doesn't impact passenger trains too much at Ipswich Station... regardless of the excuses. Freight trains are only a problem when actually using the congested mainline - the solution is dead obvious. ******************* I hate when words of "meeting demand" are spoken... why meet demand when you can exceed it? it has to be future proof to at least 25 years. Think of how many more people would actually use the trains if they were reasonably reliable, frequent, clean, fast and affordable! ******* I use the same trains as I did many moons ago but its no longer Ipswich to London in 55 minutes. The prices have peaked quite a bit however... and cleanliness is decreasing rather rapidly. Not to mention overselling train seats. Much of ticket prices go to other parts of the network. The majority of rail routes are run by one operator and you have to put up with it. This is why its got so bad.Trains are increasingly becoming like the tube, you grit your teeth, put up with overcrowding, stay silent and wait until the journey is over, get out.. and move on with your day... whereas people used to enjoy train travel.

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    Ipswich Entrepreneur

    Monday, March 31, 2014

  • The old, manual door trains (Class 90) are the only comfortable ones on the Colchester to London route. If there are new trains, I hope they are more comfortable than the current latest (electric door) trains. Seat layout is also important.

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    PeterJohns

    Monday, March 31, 2014

  • Yes, very good. At least network rail admit we need a lot of work. But how about the rolling stock? The intercity carriages were introduced into service in 1975, and it shows. Toilet waste is still discharged on the line, invariably there are problems with seatsheatingair conditioning. Reduce our fares until we get a reasonable service.

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    trevorwoolnough

    Monday, March 31, 2014

  • Over so many years now we have been reading about all the improvements coming to our rail services, yet we still travel on the same ex British Rail trains (often at slower speeds) and nothings changed. True we get more bus replacements, dirtier trains, missed connections and blame apportionment to everybody else but thats it. No capacity improvements, a freight chord built that it seems nobody will use and"refurbished" trains that just mean yet another repaint with no interior improvements. A major first step to improvement would be a professional Operator rather than the succession of profit seeking bunglers. Privatisation has been in situ for 20 years now and after a promising start has proved a major let down in our region. Traffic growth has happened by accident, not encouragement, driven by demographic change, petrol prices and worsening roads. Yet all our Rail Companies are interested in is their Dutch shareholders!

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    Disbeliever

    Monday, March 31, 2014

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