Suffolk: Great Eastern improvements not on the map but MPs remain confident
EAST Anglia does not feature on the government’s list of new “big ticket” rail projects – but local MPs insist it remains on track for a substantial rail investment.
Transport Secretary Justine Greening announced a �9.4 billion investment in nation’s rail lines, including hundreds of miles of electrification in other parts of the country.
However a map prepared by the Department for Transport showed no major investment on the main line between East Anglia and London – and even cut part of Suffolk off altogether.
Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, who has been at the forefront of a campaign to improve rail services, insisted that there was still a good chance of major investment in this region.
After listening to the minister’s statement he said: “The �9.4 billion is a major investment, and the schemes outlined today only amounts to about half of that sum.
“The rest – just short of �5 billion – is still up for grabs and there is no reason that the major improvements outlined in our prospectus which was only published a couple of weeks ago should not be included.”
Ms Greening told the House of Commons she had seen the prospectus and there were good proposals in it.
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The one major improvement in this region included in the current programme is the upgrade of the Ely North junction.
That would allow more trains to run between Cambridge and Norwich and on the line to King’s Lynn.
Mr Gummer said the Ely improvement was only included in the plan because of the pressure from MPs.
The new rail manifesto for the region that was published at the start of the month calls for major improvements to the main line, including a stretch of extra track north of Chelmsford to ease growing congestion problems.
West Suffolk MP Matthew Hancock was delighted that the Ely project had been included – his focus is on improving the rail services from Brandon to Cambridge and Norwich.
He said: “We currently have an hourly service. I would like to see that increased to twice-hourly and that can happen once the Ely North junction is improved.”
Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dr Dan Poulter said; ‘I am delighted that the Government has recognised the importance of investing in East Anglia’s rail service, which for too long has suffered from underinvestment and neglect.
“Like many people in Suffolk, I have long believed that having a first-class local rail service is vital for passengers, local businesses and the local economy.”
Greater Anglia managing director Ruud Haket said: “We welcome the news that Ely North Junction is being improved, helping to pave the way for more frequent train services.”