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£2.2bn for East Anglia’s rail network – but no promises yet on the main line to London

PUBLISHED: 10:21 08 November 2018 | UPDATED: 16:55 08 November 2018

The 30-year-old roof at Liverpool Street will be refurbished. Picture: ADAM PARKER/NETWORK RAIL

The 30-year-old roof at Liverpool Street will be refurbished. Picture: ADAM PARKER/NETWORK RAIL

Image protected in law by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. No reproduction or usage of image without express permiss

Network Rail is to spend £2.2bn maintaining and replacing infrastructure in East Anglia – but there is still no commitment to the improvements needed to bring the main line to London into the 21st century.

The money will be spent between 2019 and 2024 across the region and will be focused on renewing and maintaining existing infrastructure. That is an increase of more than a 20% on the existing five-year budget.

However to get the full benefit of Greater Anglia’s new trains, major infrastructure upgrades are needed at Chelmsford, Haughley Junction near Stowmarket and Trowse Swing Bridge on the edge of Norwich – and they are not mentioned.

A spokeswoman for Network Rail said the list of projects for the five-year period was specifically for maintenance and replacement of existing track, signalling or overhead wires.

“Enhancements” like those needed to speed up trains in Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk came from separate budgets that would be announced by the Department of Transport as they were agreed – the improvements for the Great Eastern Main Line are still being considered.

However Liverpool Street station will get a new roof as part of the upgrade – it was rebuilt in the mid 1980s, but now needs serious maintenance work and much of its glass needs to be replaced.

Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia said: “This investment will make a real difference to the rail network in the Anglia region.

“We have seen a huge growth in passengers over recent years and our track, signals, structures and equipment are under more pressure than ever. We have set out plans to use this funding to improve and renew our network to support growing demand and deliver a safe and high performing railway for our customers over the next five years.”

Witham MP and Chair of the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce, Priti Patel said: “I am delighted and welcome this long overdue investment for essential infrastructure upgrades to improve the reliability of train services along the Great Eastern Main Line.

“As Chair of the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce, our Taskforce has consistently been working to make the case to the Government for infrastructure investments across the East Anglia route to improve the reliability of services and maximise benefits for passengers.

“This investment will go some way to renew and maintain existing infrastructure which should lead to fewer delays and improved rail reliability. In recent months, passengers have been hit with regular infrastructure failures, delays and a fares increase. This investment should deliver value for money by limiting failures and improving train performance, but Network Rail must deliver on their commitments.

“The GEML Taskforce is currently at a critical stage where we are developing a renewed business case to the Government to secure the long term investment for the rail line which will address the long term capacity growth we are seeing on the line as rail use and passenger numbers on the GEML continue to grow, along with our region.”

The funding is split as follows:

£950 million to maintain and operate the network;

£400 million to renew or refurbish nearly a quarter of the track;

£350 million to improve signalling and level crossings, including major works in Clacton and Cambridge;

£250 million to renew or repair bridges, embankments, cuttings and structures, including refurbishing the roof at London Liverpool Street station;

And £200 million to complete renewals of overhead line equipment on the southern end of the Great Eastern main line and undertake similar works across the line out of Fenchurch Street.

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