Main line largely missing from latest rail investment review

Chloe Smith MP and Mark Pendlington.

Chloe Smith MP and Mark Pendlington.

The review into Network Rail’s investment proposals has been published – but there is little mention of any work to improve the main rail line between East Anglia and London.

The report was drawn up by new Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy who was appointed in the summer following the problems faced by the nationalised company in managing major projects including new electrification schemes.

It lists a number of projects – and does make reference to the aspiration to run regular trains from London to Norwich in 90 minutes.

However, the major infrastructure programmes needed to achieve that aspiration are absent from the document – which details projects that will be undertaken over the next ten years.

The only schemes mentioned on the Great Eastern Main Line are improvements to the power supply and the remodelling of Bow Junction, near Liverpool Street, which is necessary for the new Crossrail service.

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By contrast, it lists major improvements to the West Anglia service from Liverpool Street to Kings Lynn via Cambridge.

It looks at Network Rail’s “Control Period 5” (2014-19) and “Control Period 6) (2019-24” projects and says: “The only works from Network Rail’s original plan for CP5 that are planned to be completed in CP6 in the Anglia area are as follows: Bow Junction remodelling and Ely North Junction.”

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To achieve regular trains running to Norwich in 90 and Ipswich in 60 there would need to be major line improvements, including a new track north of Chelmsford and rebuilding Haughley junction near Stowmarket.

However, despite the lack of any commitment in the document, the leaders of the taskforce to improve rail services in the region remained upbeat about the prospects of getting Network Rail backing.

Co-chairs of the taskforce Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP and Chloe Smith MP for Norwich North, said: “The Hendy Report demonstrates ongoing commitment to our campaign at the highest levels of Government and the rail industry.

“But the focus remains on delivery and we are determined to keep the pressure on for the many thousands of passengers across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex who deserve a much better service than they currently get.

“We’ve already had the commitment to faster journey times in the East Anglia Franchise, with new rolling stock secured. Now we have the necessary commitments to infrastructure being delivered as promised.”

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