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Transport secretary to meet troubleshooting rail boss over East Anglia rail improvement review

PUBLISHED: 11:40 29 October 2015 | UPDATED: 13:22 29 October 2015

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin in the House of Commons

Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin in the House of Commons

Archant

The transport secretary will hold talks with the troubleshooting new boss of Network Rail about the upgrades to the Norwich to London rail track to make journeys faster and more reliable.

Norwich MP Chloe Smith called for Patrick McLoughlin to reiterate his commitment to the recommendations to the Great Eastern Main Line taskforce, which was backed by him and the Chancellor ahead of the general election.

Pre-poll commitments were thrown into doubt just weeks after the Conservatives were elected with a majority in May when the Government was forced to admit that Network Rail was launching a review into whether it would be able to do the work promised in its current budget and on time.

Local MPs have been lobbying hard to make sure that the promises made ahead of the election are honoured, including on the Norwich to London line and upgrades to the Ely junction on the King’s Lynn to London line.

London transport boss Sir Peter Hendy was appointed and the review is not due to report back until later this year.

Mr Mcloughlin told Ms Smith he was committed to the taskforce aims, saying that they had already issued an “invitation to tender” which demands private sector rail companies run trains between Norwich and London in 90 minutes and Ipswich and London in 60 minutes.

However, the current proposals would only force the companies to run two trains between Norwich and the capital in each direction each day.

Another key plank of the Great Eastern Rail Line campaign - which was explicitly backed by the Government - was £476m of investment in the main line, including infrastructure improvements.

Mr McLoughlin said Ms Smith could “take his assurance” that he would be raising the issue of the Great Eastern Rail Line later today.

“She is right about the other improvements we need to look at aswell and she can take my assurance that I will be raising them with Sir Peter Hendy [Network Rail’s new boss] when I meet him later today.”

The Great Eastern Rail Taskforce is also set to meet Sir Peter Hendy “shortly” to put the case for East Anglia’s needs. Ms Smith said: “The taskforce is succeeding, having secured agreement at every level for new trains and track upgrades. “The day-to-day and economic benefits of our work will be immense for each county on our route and we are grateful to all the thousands of passengers who back our campaign to get these results.

“The Government’s commitment means that these improvements will come about within ten years, as promised.”

7 comments

  • The way in which the ralways was privatised by splitting a whole number of taxpayer assets was outrageous. It has also been an exceptionally costly business for the taxpayer who have had to take the burden of risk & cost while the frnachise holders + the ROSCO's have made considerable profits often paying no tax here. It is estimated to cost of leasing the rolling stock leaves the franchise holders claiming they have no money to pay for the trac & facilities. That should never be the case. Having returned the track to public ownership the case to investigate the ROSCO's was overwhelming in order to protect the taxpayer. This was due to happen and was set up in 2009. After the 2010 election the investigation was scrapped, I don't think anyone needs to ask why.

    Report this comment

    Rob44

    Friday, October 30, 2015

  • "Local politicians lobbying hard". Forgive me but I don't believe it. Talk is cheap, what commuters want is action. We still have most of our MP's in Government, if they really wanted to get something done they should withhold their support for HS2 until Norfolk commuters get a better deal. That is their bargaining chip, but of course their party comes before their constituents so they palm us off with holding meetings and talk of improvements. When it comes to HS2 they all do as they are told by the chief whip and vote for it. Meanwhile we have to put up with a hopeless rail system, see attached photo of journey yesterday from Kings Cross to Downham Market. Had to stand all the way from London to Cambridge and then many people had to stand from Cambridge onwards. At my age with a bad back and frozen shoulder I really do not appreciate this. Over to you Norfolk MP's , withdraw your support for HS2, then we might see something done for Norfolk commuters.

    28th October Cambridge to King's Lynn train

    Report this comment

    Lord 'Elp-Us

    Thursday, October 29, 2015

  • Has poor old @Green Ink finally lost the plot? Try looking at the reasons rather just posting simplistic nonsense you oaf.

    Report this comment

    arfur

    Thursday, October 29, 2015

  • GIFTW clearly the use of evidence in decision or opinion making is alien to you.

    Report this comment

    Ivor

    Thursday, October 29, 2015

  • What... we privatised the railways, still subsidise it, 'carry the risks' whenif they fail. they promised external private capital investment but the rolling stock is woefully old. so privatised the profits and made public the risks and losses.... outrageous.

    Report this comment

    Ivor

    Thursday, October 29, 2015

  • Didn't the Archant poll find the public wanted the Anglia Rail returned to Public Ownership? Politicians are not listening

    Report this comment

    Rob44

    Thursday, October 29, 2015

  • A nationalised outfit overspending, behind schedule and generally not doing what it said on the tin. What a surprise.

    Report this comment

    Green Ink from Tunbridge Wells

    Thursday, October 29, 2015

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

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