East Anglia: Regional gap clear on map of rail investment

What's missing? The map showing major investment in Britain's rail network.

What's missing? The map showing major investment in Britain's rail network. - Credit: Archant

As the official rail regulator published its requirements for the industry over the next five years, its report contained a graphic illustration of the issues facing East Anglia.

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) published its report on Network Rail’s investment plans for 2014-19.

The ORR said Network Rail must be more efficient and cut operating costs – but backed plans to spend £21billion on maintaining and upgrading the network.

However a map showing major investment projects that was included in the report showed nothing in East Anglia at all.

The region’s MPs, local authorities and rail company is pressing for extra tracks to be built near Chelmsford to ease the pressure – but it was always known they would not be included in Network Rail’s next five-year plan.

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However Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, one of the leading campaigners for the improvement, said he still hoped it could be added to the plan before 2019.

“There are major improvements at Bow Junction (in east London) and at Ely which will be good for East Anglian passengers, but we have to keep up the pressure,” he added.

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The ORR has set tough new reliability and safety targets for both Network Rail and rail operating companies – and is looking to increase the amount of freight being carried by rail.

It is also aiming to close about 500 level crossings to improve public safety.

Jonathan Denby, corporate affairs manager for Greater Anglia, said: “While we are pleased with the investment that is planned for the East Anglian rail network, some of the key upgrades and priorities targeted for the next few years, as outlined in the East Anglian Rail Prospectus, are still not agreed or approved.

“We will therefore continue to work hard with regional stakeholders (including MPs, local authorities, business organisations and user groups) to make the case for further improvements, in addition to those already secured, for the benefit of the customers and communities we serve.”

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