Faster and more reliable trains were promised by rail bosses yesterday as a £2.2bn investment in the region’s train services was unveiled.

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Around £1.4bn will be spent improving the rail link between the region and London over five years.

Network Rail chiefs expect the investment to make services more reliable and faster – and should pave the way to increasing capacity.

The company’s business plan for the Anglia route, which has been submitted to the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR), will be finalised in October 2013, with projects beginning in April 2014 and lasting until 2019.

Network Rail Anglia route director Dave Ward said there were several challenges facing the region’s rail services including problems with capacity and journey times.

Estimates show that between 8am and 9am, the busiest hour in the morning peak period, the number of passengers on the Great Eastern main line heading to Liverpool Street is set to increase by 49pc by 2031.

Mr Ward said: “What we are looking at here is putting in place the building blocks that should make the network more resilient and make some improvements which we can work on over future years.”

MPs and local authorities have drawn up a manifesto for the main line which calls for trains from London to routinely reach Norwich in 90 minutes and Ipswich in 60 minutes.

But Mr Ward said the state of the track was not the main issue affecting journey times – it was ensuring that they had a clear run.

Level crossings north of Ipswich require trains to run at lower speeds and as part of the plans 154 level crossings will be upgraded.

Mr Ward said: “Many are part of rights of way that existed long before the railway was built, but we need to work with local people and local authorities to make changes to benefit everyone.”

The programme includes major improvements to Bow Junction, just south of Stratford station in East London, which should make the approach to Liverpool Street more reliable.

Capacity on the line to London could also be improved by moving freight trains away from the busy passenger route and onto the cross-country line. Most of the freight trains from Felixstowe are heading to the Midlands, north of England, or Scotland and there is no need for them to head to London.

Until now, operators have been reluctant to move their services – but during the Olympics, many freight services were moved off the main lines.

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith (pictured) said the upgrades would have a “positive impact” on the Norfolk and Norwich economy.

She said: “Our campaign continues to secure the full improvements that we will want to see on East Anglia’s rail which will really bring jobs to Norwich and Norfolk by giving us faster journey times and more reliable services so that businesses will invest in our county.”

Andy Wood, chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “Improving our rail infrastructure is critically important to supporting business growth in Norfolk and Suffolk. We are pleased to see that Network Rail is proposing some very significant improvements to the network. We will continue our lobbying for further improvements for the benefit of all rail users, which we will expect to see as part of the new Greater Anglia rail franchise.”

The improvements include a £25m upgrade to the Ely North junction which will increase the number of trains running from King’s Lynn to the capital and accelerate economic growth.

South-West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss said: “The Norwich to Cambridge line will also benefit from this upgrade and will provide enhanced links through Thetford with the hi-tech industries and science parks operating in the region.”

13 comments

  • I notice that the Yarmouth, Lowestoft - Norwich lines will still be "cattle truck" class, and still not a peep from Lewis.

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    "V"

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013

  • I'm with "V" on this one.. The Norwich to Yarmouth and Lowestoft lines at times are an absolute disgrace, and borderline third world. On at least 5 occasions last year, single carriage trains have been used on a Saturday on these lines, at peak times, and also before after Norwich City have been playing at home. It's common sense - peak travel periods require more carriages. One of these occasions actually resulted in the train being so full - all seats taken, standing throughout (including where the doors are) that people had to get off the train simply to let others out. This is not a suitable environment for travel - the heat was overbearing. It happened with the previous franchise, it happens with this franchise. Unless these routes are upgraded and have money spent on them, it will damn well happen with the next franchise!

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    Eddie

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013

  • Oh, and on each occasion I was charged over £6 for the aforementioned, ahem - luxury travel...

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    Eddie

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013

  • The same headline ,the same soundbite,the same promise , and this from every Train Company since the private sector took over.

    Report this comment

    Albert Cooper

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013

  • AND, as the trains were so full, the conductor is unable to get through. Without the facility to buy tickets on most stations before travel, you have to buy your ticket at the barriers on Norwich station - along with the other 100 people who weren't able to buy a ticket. Thus resulting in long queues at the barrier, and potentially a 10-20minute wait. As I said before. A disgrace. Rant over.

    Report this comment

    Eddie

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013

  • So what if they are much fast and more efficient. If they cant sort out the tracks and the inefficient staffing then these really fast trains will be going at their usual speed - that being stationery!

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    Electra

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013

  • DaveG. If you're close enough to count passengers in 90% of 100% of the trains at OB crossing then you have to be near the front of the queue and not delayed by hours? Anyway the problem is insufficient traffic capacity between the north and south of Lowesfoft is that there are only 2 crossing points both of which are congested at peak times. A third river crossing is required. Plus the OB crossing is signalled for trains far too early, plus the trains have too few doors. I was waiting at front of queue by this crossing and the train to Norwich came in 3 minutes after the barrier went down and took 5 minutes to load passengers since the carriage has only 2 doors and passengers have to queue to get aboard. On this occassion passengers had to stand and not all could get on the single carriage unit. Solution, better designed trains, better signalling and most importantly a third river crossing.. and use the car less, most cars are only 20-25% full..

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    Dave01

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

  • Isn't Chloe Smith MP really good, she soon sorted the railways out (and is hoping to get re-elected when the General Election comes). Oh, what about that single line bridge at Trowse and the dreadful cross country services to Norwich. Has she managed to get more than the two carriages put on these EMT trains?

    Report this comment

    Port Watcher

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013

  • Standing on a train is a health and safety issue that is still not dealt with... Falling onto a seated person when the train jolts is a danger and many accidents go unreported... The quality of service does not match the ticket price you pay for... You cannot stand in a theatre but are expected to stand for an hour on a moving train... Crazy...! .. And ticket costs are double those in some euro countries.... The railways are living up to the RIP OFF UK business society... Wise up people do not use the train get a better deal before you are eventually priced off the railway in a few years time.... anyway...

    Report this comment

    Lionel

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013

  • And how about replacing the antique rolling stock on the Norwich Liverpool Street line?

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    TP

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013

  • Many people couldn't fit in to the single carriage class 153s over Christmas and New Year and were left at the platform I personally know of 6 people that couldn't fit onto 153 trains, more lost business for Norwich as they simply went home. It is because Greater Anglia are having some class 156s refurbished, it was known 18 months ago but they (GA) didn't think to lease extra suitable rolling stock to replace them. Network Rail infra-structure upgrades are welcomed but pressure must be put on the TSO 'franchisees' to lease decent rolling stock. Class 170 or better for rural, and for London-Norwich no more of the old Mk 3 'inter-city' carriages from the 1970's whose wheels keep getting flat-spots; often making for noisy and uncomfortable journeys. Probably the best locomotive at Norwich is the DRS owned 47828 (D1966) which has to rescue and tow the others when they break down! Perhaps we can ask DRS if they can run the franchise as well as provide rescue locomotives? Greater Anglia management don't appear to have any idea!

    Report this comment

    Dave01

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013

  • The railways shoulld be perfect by now. Hardly a week goes by without yet another good news story about rail investment, improvement, etc. Always an opportunity for the EDP's fave soundbiters to hang their hats on a good news story, and this time round you've asked one of their quangos as well. Do you have them on speed dial? Next time try asking business leaders, communters (working or otherwise), etc for their views. Might make the overall report more balanced and relevent to your readers.

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    Police Commissioner ???

    Tuesday, January 8, 2013

  • And yes, as i spend countless hours waiting at the crossings in Oulton Broad for the train to pass every 30 minutes, i notice that 90% of them have about 5 people on them. If the shoppers and other casual users staggered their times of travel, then they could almost have a carriage to them selves. If you are crammed onto a train every day, common sense dictates that you get an earlier one or a later one next time

    Report this comment

    DaveG

    Wednesday, January 9, 2013

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

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