East Anglian MPs' group demands more upgrades to rail infrastructure
PUBLISHED: 12:38 23 May 2018 | UPDATED: 12:38 23 May 2018
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The new chair of the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce has met the rail minister to demand that the government keeps the pressure on Network Rail to upgrade the route.
Witham MP Priti Patel took over as chair of the taskforce earlier this year. At her meeting with Transport Minister Jo Johnson she told him that while Greater Anglia was already building new trains as part of their franchise, there still needed to be major infrastructure improvements if travel between London and the region was to be speeded up.
After the meeting, Ms Patel said: “Commuters across the Great Eastern Main Line have endured poor and overcrowded train services for too long.
“Having established the Taskforce in 2012, I have long campaigned for improvements to our rail services. The Taskforce’s recommendations were accepted by the Government and we now need to see investment in critical infrastructure including upgrades to Haughley Junction, Trowse Swing Bridge and the passing loops between Witham and Colchester funded through the enhancements pipeline process.
“The new franchise will deliver new rolling stock in 2019, however, the full potential of the new trains will only be realised if the infrastructure is upgraded too.
“Local commuters are paying some of the highest fares nationally and they must see this money coming back in investment into their line.”
She said the Taskforce had published a rail prospectus several years ago which made a strong case for investment.
However with increased housing growth and changes to the economy in the region, the Taskforce was currently updating this prospectus and Ms Patel looked forward to presenting it to the Minister in due course.
In the more immediate future, rail passengers heading to London over the bank holiday weekend will face three days of bus journeys between Ingatestone and Newbury Park Tube station as Network Rail engineers continue their work in replacing wires in the Ilford area.
Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia Managing Director, said: “We are sorry that our customers will be inconvenienced while Network Rail completes this engineering work.
“Ultimately it will help us to run a more reliable, on time railway and make customers’ journeys better.”