East Anglia: Passenger numbers set to rise by 75% on Greater Anglia railway lines

More trains are expected on the Liverpool Street line.

More trains are expected on the Liverpool Street line. - Credit: Bill Smith - Archant

THE number of passengers heading to Liverpool Street from Suffolk and Essex is set to rise by 75% over the next 30 years according to new figures from Network Rail.

And the number using Stratford as a major interchange could have at least doubled by 2043.

There has already been a dramatic rise in the number of passengers using Liverpool Street over recent decades – with the station being completely rebuilt between 1985 and 1991.

Network Rail is looking at ways of coping with the expected increase in passengers which is outlined in its Long Term Performance Plan which has just been published.

It shows that the number of peak-time passengers using Great Eastern Main Line trains at Liverpool Street could increase from 19,500 in 2011 to between 29,600 and 34,100 in 2043.

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The Network Rail figures take into account population and economic growth predictions along with local authority’s plans for housing.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, who is leading a campaign for improvements in the rail service, said he thought the figures for East Anglia could be too modest.

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Network Rail expects the number of passengers travelling to both Manchester and Edinburgh is set to more than double.

Mr Gummer said: “I suspect that they (the East Anglian lines) will be among the faster growing train lines in the country given the fact that we are one of only two net contributors to the economy and the amount of housing that is coming in.

“We are plotting the investment needed to 2043. It is the first time they have done this (calculated passenger estimates) properly.

He said: “The fact the Great Eastern Mainline is one of the most used passengers lines in the country and we are almost up against it, this shows the capacity investment that needs to be made is quite considerable.

“The investment I and my colleagues are trying to win in the railway is not just to stand still, we need to build in capacity so that future commuters and business commuters can have the kind of service they expect.”

Derek Monnery from Essex Rail Users Federation said: “I think the projections are quite sensible.

“If you look at the amount of building around Chelmsford and Colchester. I think they need to put money into the network.

“We need to improve the infrastructure. One of the urgent things is to put in a relief line north of Chelmsford. There could be more trains and improved signalling would certainly help. But we are going to need something a bit more radical than tinkering.

“Even if they do not do anything right away on the ground, they need to be putting some plans in place for when the money is available. They need to make some serious investment.

He added: “If you look back to the 1960s they spent a lot of money putting in a new motorway network. We need that sort of vision with the railways.”

Network Rail said the figures would be used to inform investment decisions on the capability of the rail network and the train services which operate on it.

SEVERAL measures are likely to be put in place to try to cope with an expected rise in demand on the Great Eastern Main Line.

MPs have already called for a new section of track to be built between Chelmsford and Witham to ease a serious bottleneck on the line through Essex.

The line between Colchester and Shenfield is the most intensively-used double-track section of track in the country.

It only takes a single train breakdown, or infrastructure failure, to cause chaos on the line.

The new third line just north of Chelmsford should ease the pressure – it is not included in the next Network Rail plan which runs from 2014 to 2019, but it is expected to feature in the next plan after that and to be built early in the next decade.

Further sections of third track could be built before 2043 if that is considered necessary.

Space will be freed up in the existing station when the “Metro” services from Shenfield are merged into the new Crossrail route which is due to open in 2018 or 2019.

While Liverpool Street is on the Crossrail route, these trains will be using a new station under the existing main line station, freeing up space for longer-distance trains.

Platforms have been extended so trains can be extended from eight to 12-coaches long.

And it is likely that new trains in the future will have a greater capacity as well as being faster.

That could make journeys from Ipswich and Norwich quicker, but less easy to work on because there will not be the space for tables at seats.

More trains are likely to stop at Stratford – which has already become a major interchange with the opening of the Eurostar route and the Olympic Park.

Once Crossrail has opened, Stratford will be a popular interchange because there will be a cross-platform connection for trains which go direct to the West End.

Liverpool Street has already seen a massive growth over recent years.

During the first 14 years of rail privatisation, from 1997/8 to 2011/12, the number of people passing through the station increased by 58% – from 36 million to 57 million.

Nationally the number of rail passengers more than doubled between 1985 and 2012.

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