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Norwich to Cambridge railway line should be upgraded to an ‘Innovation Express’

PUBLISHED: 06:45 02 November 2015 | UPDATED: 10:59 02 November 2015

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman. Picture: Ian Burt

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman. Picture: Ian Burt

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A Norfolk MP is seeking support to upgrade the Norwich to Cambridge rail line into what he has called the “innovation express”.

George Freeman said that a better service between the two cities could potentially bring further investment into the region.

The Mid-Norfolk Conservative MP is to meet with transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin to discuss his idea later this year.

Mr Freeman said: “In any other advanced economy, the line linking two world class centres of technology and innovation such as Cambridge and Norwich would be a frequent, fast and high quality service to modern and well equipped stations.

“The Norwich to Cambridge line should be “The Innovation Express” and with wi-fi, smart trains, e-ticketing, bike racks at the stations and a half hourly service this line could bring prosperity and investment to the area.” As part of the improvements, Mr Freeman wants to see:

n Faster delivery of the doubling of the Ely North Junction – work that would be crucial for enhanced services on the line.

n Faster delivery of the upgrades at Ely station to Ely North Junction.

n The doubling of the Trowse Swing Bridge.

n An increase in line speeds between Norwich and Ely to 90mph or 100mph.

n The delivery of Felixstowe to Nuneaton and Norwich to Ely electrification.

n An improvement to day-to-day infrastructure performance to improve punctuality.

n A half-hourly Norwich to Cambridge service.

Other improvements include train refurbishments to include wi-fi and plug points, and more trains to enable increase capacity. Mr Freeman also wants to see upgrades to multiple stations along the line.

Norfolk MP and environment secretary Elizabeth Truss, who is working with Mr Freeman to secure support for the changes, said: “The term Innovation Express is an excellent name and reflects the enterprising characteristics of this part of the UK.”

Abellio Greater Anglia currently operates an hourly service along the line – a total of 34 trains each day. A spokesman said that the company had worked closely with Mr Freeman to try and bring further investments to the line in the future.

“We welcome George Freeman’s support in helping to build the case for future upgrades on the Norwich to Cambridge route.

“We are committed to continuing to work to further improve services as far as is practical for the remainder of our current short franchise and to helping pave the way for further upgrades in the future.”

Mr Freeman has also written to the CEO of Network Rail to see assurances that the company is committed to improving the line.

n A £150m programme of engineering works is expected to cause disruption to a section of the Greater Anglia line, which links Ipswich and Norwich with London Liverpool Street, over the Christmas period.

The line will be closed for five days, with services terminating in Ingatestone, Essex.

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