Suffolk: Rail conference as figures confirm boost

RAIL bosses from Greater Anglia will today be basking in best-ever reliability figures for the region as they take part in Suffolk’s first-ever rail conference.

The event is being hosted at the county council’s Endeavour House headquarters in Ipswich and will bring together regional rail industry leaders, local authority representatives, and representatives of rail users.

The conference comes the day after new figures from Network Rail showed that Greater Anglia trains were now performing well above the national average in terms of punctuality.

As revealed last week, between mid September and mid October, 95% of Greater Anglia trains ran on time, up from 92.5% during the same period last year. This compares with a national average of 92.3%.

The figures are likely to be a talking point at the conference which is being hosted by county councillor with responsibility for transport, Guy McGregor.

It will hear keynote speeches from Ipswich MP Ben Gummer – one of a group of East Anglian MPs who are pressing the Government to allow more investment on the region’s rail network – and renowned rail journalist Christian Wolmar.

The conference is expected to step up calls for improvements to the rail service which would allow a regular 60-minute service between Ipswich and London throughout the day.

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Experts have suggested this would be possible if the line was improved with new sections of track increasing capacity at some of the pinch-points in Essex.

There are also expected to be calls for whoever wins the new 15-year contract that is due to start in mid-2014 to introduce new, or at least refurbished, trains during the long-term contract.

Another key speaker at the conference will be Thijs Jan Noomen from Greater Anglia – the new performance figures will give the Dutch-based company a major boost as it starts to prepare its bid for the long-term contract in the region.

This conference is geared to the industry and stakeholders – although more public-based events are planned as the preparations for the new franchise battle are drawn up over the next few months.