Chancellor gets rail demands from East Anglian campaigners

Sunak and Watling

Giles Watling MP hands a copy of the Taskforce case for investment to Chancellor Rishi Sunak MP - Credit: East Anglian Rail Taskforce

The bid to secure major improvements to the Great Eastern Main Line from London to Ipswich and Norwich has been presented to Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.

The Great Eastern Rail Taskforce was created eight years ago to press the government to back investment in the route. Train operator Greater Anglia is introducing a new fleet of trains - but the infrastructure improvements promised by Network Rail under Patrick McLouglin and with funding from George Osborne never materialised.

Now it has presented its new case of investment to the current tenant of Number 11. 

Giles Watling, Taskforce Chair and MP for Clacton, met Mr Sunak to hand deliver a copy of the prospectus and discuss the need for investment in the rail line. Copies were handed to Chris Heaton-Harris, Minister of State for Transport, in May.

The report outlines the rail line’s key role in levelling up our region, supporting sustainable economic regeneration and delivering long-term, clean growth.

It calls for a range of key rail improvements including improving Bow Junction in east London, improving signalling in Essex, a new Haughley Junction and a new bridge and track layout at Trowse on the approach to Norwich.

The Taskforce says the improvements could generate up to £9.3bn in economic benefits, kick start tens of thousands of jobs along the route and create more than 4,000 construction jobs while the improvements are made.

Mr Watling said: “I’m pleased to have been able to present this new Case for Investment directly to the Chancellor. I highlighted that investment is vital for the levelling up of the East and it is needed to ensure the region can realise the full customer and economic benefits of its new trains.

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“Passengers, businesses and education establishments across the region are demanding – and deserve – a faster and more reliable service.

The Taskforce was established in 2013 and brings together the region’s MPs, local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, Chambers of Commerce and local businesses, with support from Greater Anglia and Network Rail.

It says the package of improvements could generate up to £9.3bn in economic benefits once the wider agglomeration and productivity benefits are included.

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