Witham MP Priti Patel takes chair of East Anglia’s rail taskforce

New taskforce chair Priti Patel(centre) with fellow MPs Will Quince and Chloe Smith. Picture: PRITI

New taskforce chair Priti Patel(centre) with fellow MPs Will Quince and Chloe Smith. Picture: PRITI PATEL'S OFFICE - Credit: Archant

Witham MP and former cabinet minister Priti Patel has taken over as the new chair of the Great Eastern Rail Taskforce.

Ms Patel, who was one of the leading members of the taskforce when it was set up in 2013, has taken over from Colchester MP Will Quince.

Along with former Ipswich MP Ben Gummer and Norwich North MP Chloe Smith she worked to improve rail services by lobbying the government to ensure investment in the main line from London to East Anglia through Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk.

Ms Patel said: “I am pleased to be leading the work of the Rail Taskforce and look forward to working with colleagues and key stakeholders across the region to deliver the rail improvements the region needs.

“The East of England and Anglia region is an engine of economic growth and we can support more jobs creation and business growth with investment in modernising the rail network.

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“In 2014 the Rail Taskforce published a prospectus highlighting the clear strategic case for a series of infrastructure investment projects on the Mainline to improve services.

“The new rail franchise is already set to provide new trains but we must now escalate our campaign to get the new infrastructure we need delivered.

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“I will be working on updating our economic and business cases for investment and bringing stakeholders across the region together so we can lobby the Government with one united voice.”

“Commuters are paying a lot of money for a service that is often poor and causes misery to many. Getting new investment in key new infrastructure improvements will make a big difference to improving services for the future.”

She began her period as chair of the taskforce by pressing the government for more investment. During Questions to the Chancellor of the Exchequer she asked for more support for the route.

Speaking later, she said: “The East of England is an engine of economic growth for the whole country but we are being held back by poorly maintained and old rail infrastructure.

“Commuters are set to pay £3.7 billion to the Treasury over the course of the current rail franchise and it is about time some of this came back with investment on the GEML.”

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