Will new Essex station make life easier for East Anglia's rail passengers?
PUBLISHED: 16:30 20 August 2019
Could proposals for a new railway station north of Chelmsford spell the end for hopes of major improvements to speed up the main line from London to East Anglia?
Or will Network Rail and the Department for Transport use proposals to build a new station there during the second half of the next decade as a springboard to create a new passing loop allowing fast trains to overtake slower services?
Building a long passing loop between Chelmsford and Hatfield Peverel has been one of the key requirements for the raising the speed of trains on the main line for many years.
However when the government announced plans for a new railway station at Beaulieu Park on the outskirts of Chelmsford, it made no mention of the long loop needed to improve rail services.
It is now understood that Network Rail is negotiating with the Department for Transport for permission to build the long loop through the station which will not be completed until 2025 at the earliest.
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Network Rail and transport bodies were caught unawares by the announcement of £300m of investment into Essex by the Chancellor of the Exchequer over the weekend - but have said they are planning to work with the county council on the project.
As well as building the new rail station and a relief road in Chelmsford, the government also announced £100m of funding for a new link road in Colchester.
The announcements were welcomed by the leader of Essex County Council David Finch, who said: "We are delighted that the government has recognised the value of these projects and confirmed we will have much needed investment to support vital infrastructure and unlock housing growth.
"Chelmsford and Colchester are already great places for people to live and for businesses to thrive and this funding will help grow the attraction of both places for generations to come.
However Rosie Pearson, from Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex, said: "I just think it is so symptomatic of the whole government desperation to deliver homes at all costs.
"The £218m for Chelmsford and £100m for Colchester are large sums of money but they are a drop in the ocean compared to what they need. If you think 43,000 homes are planned for three new towns, then £100m is nothing."