MPs unite to try to improve East Anglia’s train network
12:59 17 May 2012
Norfolk MPs will join forces today to try and further their aim of improving East Anglia’s rail services over the next decade.
Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, will chair a summit in the Palace of Westminster which will be attended by other MPs, representatives from local enterprise partnerships, Greater Anglia train operating companies and local authorities.
The agenda will include a detailed briefing on technical and economic studies being carried out to help the group make the strongest possible case to win funding for improvements from the government.
Ms Smith said: “This is a once in a generation opportunity for a commitment to the long term benefit of the East Anglia, Norfolk and Norwich economies.
“This summit is a working session to present emerging work. It is part of a much longer sequence including vital political lobbying for our area.
“We have a passionate, unified campaign emerging which makes simple, right demands.”
The group is calling for improved infrastructure, higher quality rolling stock, increased service reliability and faster journey times.
Meanwhile their meeting follows a similar event last year which also saw MPs from Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire teaming up to pressure government and Network Rail for investment.
Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman MP said: “For too long Norfolk has been neglected in government infrastructure investment. Good communications are vital to our having local prosperity and vibrant communities. We will never build a 21st Century economy on 19th Century infrastructure.
“The Norwich Cambridge link, the ‘Innovation Line’, will help attract inward investment to the exciting new businesses and see jobs created at the Norwich Research Park and Hethel Engineering Centre and ease risk of traffic congestion from the new homes in Wymondham, Attleborough and Thetford.”
The Greater Anglia franchise becomes available again in 2014 and the group wants many of the improvements they are demanding to be considered in how the new contract is written.
Meanwhile the government is about to enter a new ‘control period’ in which it will decide which rail infrastructure projects get the go ahead over the next five years.
South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss said ahead of the meeting: “Last week I met the secretary of state for transport to discuss the Ely
North Junction upgrade which will create significant opportunities for the Fen Line and Cambridge to Norwich Line.
“Justine Greening said she wanted to see spending evened out across the country. For years, East Anglia has suffered from a lack of investment in infrastructure.
“I believe that the combined efforts of MPs, LEPs, councils and business will make the case for our fair share to drive growth.”
Log on to this website later to find out what happens in the meeting and see tomorrow’s paper for further analysis.