Train passengers face greater congestion on the rail line linking Norfolk and Suffolk with London as new figures suggest a dramatic increase in rush hour commuters over the next 30 years.

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Network Rail has predicted peak traveller numbers could grow by up to 75% by 2043, heightening calls for radical infrastructure improvements to increase capacity on the line.

Norwich MP Chloe Smith, who is leading a campaign for rail improvements, said the report underlined why serious rail improvements were needed.

She said: “What this shows is that our line is very popular. Many thousands of people who currently travel from Norwich and the area into London, already know that we need faster journey times, more reliable journey times and a better quality of carriage. “These things will obviously serve existing and future passengers. But we also want to encourage businesses to set up in our region because they know the transport infrastructure can support them.

She added: “Anyone who has been in standing room only as I have been many times on the 6pm from London to Norwich knows it is a busy line. This report gives us the proof that we need to keep making the case for the improvements that we need.”

MPs and business leaders have set out a blueprint of improvements they woud like to see including crucial track upgrades, faster trains, new stations and more frequent services.

The Network Rail data suggests peak passengers numbers along the Great Eastern Mainline could grow from 19,500 in 2011 to up to 34,100 a day by 2043.

The figures take into account economic and population predictions and plans by local authorities to build housing.

Network Rail said the figures would be used to inform investment decisions on the capability of the rail network and the train services which operate on it.

It said: “The ramifications of these decisions are profound, as railway assets such as signalling systems and rolling stock are both expensive and long-lasting. A long term vision is therefore required to optimise the value of future investment and to avoid procurement of redundant assets.”

Guy Dangerfield, from passenger watchdog Passenger Focus said: “It appears that demand will grow strongly in the coming years and passengers will need to know where the extra seats will come from to stop crowding simply getting worse”.

Chris Starkie, managing director of local enterprise partnership New Anglia, also said the figures showed the case for investment.

He said: “You will find of all the routes into London, the Norwich to London line is the one that poses the biggest capacity problem for Network Rail. It is the particular route they have the least solutions for. Other routes are overcrowded aswell, but they have plans in place.

“The route into Liverpool Street is the biggest headache. For us it underlines the case for investment, and we believe that with investment that growth in passengers will be even bigger than that forecast.”

Paul Plummer, group strategy director at Network Rail, said: “Rail plays a critical role in the economy of London and its surrounding area and will face continuing challenges to deal with the growing demand, driven in part by the projected substantial increase in Greater London’s population.”

The wide ranging report into rail services across the south eastern region said demand for rail services in the London and South East region was determined principally by the level of employment in central and inner London.

It said greater London was characterised by the highest housing costs in London and the South East but also the greatest range of employment opportunities, and as a result, higher rates of commuting growth into central London were expected from areas of the South East outside Greater London.

A Greater Anglia spokesperson said the study was “an important building block” in determining the additional future investment and upgrades needed for railways in the region.

She said: “Despite our short franchise, we have already been playing a major role in securing regional rail improvements - by playing a pivotal part in the development of the East Anglian Rail Prospectus and working with stakeholders to make the case for upgrades over the rest of this decade. Already significant progress is being made with commitments to upgrades at Bow junction near London and at Ely. We are also consulting with regional MPs, local councils, business organisations and user groups about priorities for improvement during the Greater Anglia extension period and working with key regional stakeholders (including Network Rail) to try and achieve further infrastructure enhancements as soon as possible.”

She added the Network Rail initiative again demonstrated the strong case for investment in the rail network.

“We are passionate about building on the improvements we’ve already made to punctuality, customer service and timetables (such as the hourly Ipswich to Lowestoft service), by working with stakeholders to secure the investment and upgrades necessary to deliver an even better rail service for the region.”

17 comments

  • So is this why we need thousands of new houses!

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    SNUB

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

  • how does chloe smith know ? did she forget her first class ticket once ?

    Report this comment

    Double Bill

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

  • For those of you using the Norwich to London line who are hoping for new rolling stock, you may be interested to know that Porterbrook - the rolling stock owners - yesterday awarded a contract for the overhaul of the existing coaches which will keep them in service until at least 2025! And anyone wanting a laugh should see the letter someone sent to "Greater" Anglia on www(dot)railwayeye(dot)blogspot.co.uk - hilarious!!

    Report this comment

    Norfolk and Good

    Thursday, May 2, 2013

  • Personally, I wouldn't mind the continued use of the existing rolling stock if it was PROPERLY refurbished. I recently travelled on the Chiltern route from London o Birmingham. The use the same type of coaches and they're like brand new. They've even fitted automatic doors! Hoping for Pendolino trains is just wishful thinking as they cost nearly three times more to operate (leasing plus track access charges) and volumes of passengers to Norwich would never warrant the required investment in all the line side equipment required to operate them. Unfortunately the Norwich coaches will not even get the "Chiltern" treatment - they will just be patched up to keep the going for another 15-20 years!

    Report this comment

    Wisbech, CAPITAL of the Fens

    Friday, May 3, 2013

  • Chloe Smith uses the train more than most of us and she is to be seen in standard class every time. The worst thing done to this line is the length of franchise given to the current operator, nobody in their right mind would invest millions in carriages etc with such a short time to profit from their investment

    Report this comment

    DaveG

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

  • Trolls about Miss Smith

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    PaulH

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

  • That'll be the DeltaRail designed refurb: at ChilternTrains....... " •Power operated bodyside doors to replace the slam doors •A passenger information system (PIS) that is compliant with the latest persons of reduced mobility (PRM-TSI) regulations to allow use beyond 2019 •New standard and wheelchair accessible toilets •New seating and interior refurbishment •CCTV fitment •Power operated body-end doors between vehicles •Controlled emission tanks for toilets •At seat sockets for laptopsphones " Nothing wrong with wishful thinking though. Progress and economic benefit often arise from wishful and creative thinking as long as it is carried out in a structured achievable way. I see 90004 has been renamed City of Chelmsford, it was called Eastern Daily Press. I hear EDP may be moving to 90002 shortly. I think 90002 was " mission impossible" but that sounded too real a statement as in trains getting to London on time or Abismallio allocating more money for leasing. Another thing they could do is use class 91 locos (up to 140mph) to replace the class 90 which struggle to go much above 100mph, there is also talk of a new power feed at Chelmsford to ease the strain on the power requirement.... and 90003 seems to have been withdrawn from service due to a technical issue. We shall see how this inter-city route progresses, at the moment it is nowhere near a 21st century railway system.

    Report this comment

    Dave01

    Friday, May 3, 2013

  • It clearly does not require faster trains as Ms Smith and others pushed for last year, but more trains and reliable ones.

    Report this comment

    Marigold

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

  • Might want to spell check the caption under the photo of our darling virgin MP....just saying....

    Report this comment

    merrydancer

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

  • Her support for rail improvements is last minute electioneering, because we all know that the treasury is persuaded by those bidders who pay most for the franchise. Time to renationalise and only reimburse operators for what they have invested and in the same time frame this investment took to implement. Her focus should be on those companies who want to sell here, but have no inclinations to pay any taxes whatsoever, the real scroungers.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

  • The Norwich - London route has suffered from under investment for years, we all know that. I don't believe small state run railway operators e.g. abismalio would ever have the ability or will to lease rolling stock that will bring the line into the 21st century, at present it is still in the 1970s. This is where a more resourceful train company is required. Virgin Rail keeps springing to mind. Their Pendolino, made by Alstom, with tilting mechanism is ideal for running this route at faster train speeds and greater comfort. At the same time the tracks into London need more capacity so Network Rail will need to improve the signalling zones and perhaps add another track to keep the slow traffic off the main lines or as an interim keep two fast tracks clear of local slow trains, re-route the cross-over points etc. As for the overhead catenary system this needs total replacement as it is prone to failure at any point, or if they don't upgrade it to make it stronger then there is a case for train operators going back to diesel locomotives as an interim measure. Class 43 HSTs at least would get to London and back without the risk of overhead power failure...I wish I was on the Govt committee that gets to choose who runs this franchise, I would be very demanding....

    Report this comment

    Dave01

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

  • Chloe Smiths Ideas as well as The Governments ideas are just like trains . Both fail to adhere to the timetables and both seem to cancel ideas at the last minute and both don't know what direction they are going in until the last minute and finally both cost the tax payer a damn fortune but never deliver a good service.

    Report this comment

    che bramley

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

  • Those who use the railway will just have to pay a lot more to finance the improvements that are apparently needed. Chloe Smith MP will no doubt sort it out!

    Report this comment

    Port Watcher

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

  • Why all this concern about trains? I think I am right in saying that about 2% of the population use them on a regular basis. Personally I couldn't give a damn.

    Report this comment

    Unemployed and Luvin it.

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

  • Porterbrook Leasing can't believe their luck that some train operator wants to use the old mk 3s coaches, all 111 of them! The coaches are going for C6 upgrade (access improvement) and corrosion repairs, they are so old that they are starting to dissolve into oxide powders. The thing is Abismallio don't need to buy or invest in rolling stock they only need to lease it. If they can't get what they need from Porterbrook then Angel Trains may be able to help. Abismallio can't be allowed to run an inter-city route with such old stock. We need Virgin Trains Alstom Pendolino to bring this route into the modern era. This GA Franchise should be put up for new bidding asap! and with strict conditions on rolling stock that can be used on this route.

    Report this comment

    Dave01

    Thursday, May 2, 2013

  • What do she care ? Her travel is paid for by us mugs (sorry taxpayers). the sooner she is thrown out of office, the better.

    Report this comment

    "V"

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

  • Funny it was Beeching, Marples and Tory governments flogging off railways that wrecked the system,something other countries wouldn't have done because they are clever enough to realise that rail transport is a vital service,and didn't mess about with it! Now we are left with a Mickey Mouse system that is not fit for purpose and is constantly breaking down! It is expensive and inflexible,woe betide you if you miss a train or sit in the wrong seat,in the old days you could just catch the next train! Travel on French railways and you realise just how clapped out our railway system is!

    Report this comment

    Harry Rabinowitz

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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