Norwich in 90 fears are allayed by MP at heart of campaign

Norwich train station. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Norwich train station. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

A claim that the Norwich in 90 minutes train time ambition by Greater Anglia could hit the buffers has been refuted by an MP and the train operator.

George Osborne visiting Norwich railway station in 2013, when chancellor, to announce a task force w

George Osborne visiting Norwich railway station in 2013, when chancellor, to announce a task force would be set up to look at delivering Norwich in 90. He is pictured with, from left, Norwich North MP Chloe Smith, then-Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, and Jonathan Denby of Greater Anglia. Picture: Denise Bradley. - Credit: copyright: Archant 2013

Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North, has poured cold water over a story in the Sunday Times that quoted sources saying having Norwich in 90 minute journeys by May 2019 were in doubt.

The article raised the future of the improved times as it looked at concerns about train operators' financial stability amid a stand-off with Network Rail.

It said Network Rail bosses believed plans to boost Greater Anglia services were unachievable.

MORE: New fleet of trains revealedHowever the claim was rebutted by Ms Smith, who said: 'This should not be any reason to doubt the project. 'The brand new trains are on their way, showing the project is already succeeding. It will bring thousands of jobs to Norwich and all three counties. 'However, it's always been a marathon project, not a quick win, to get Norwich in 90 on every service. 'The infrastructure works required are very important, not just the trains or the timetabling. 'I expect Greater Anglia, Network Rail and the Department for Transport to continue to work together to deliver what's needed for our area, and the taskforce will continue to hold them to account on behalf of passengers.'MORE: £4.6bn case for 90 minutes

A government source also told this paper: 'We are confident the promised improvements will be delivered.' Clive Lewis, MP for Norwich South, said: 'This will be a blow to the city if we can't have Norwich in 90.

'Questions will have to be asked if it does not materialise.'

Last June Greater Anglia unveiled new-look trains as part of its investment of £1.4bn in 1,043 new carriages to replace its current 30-year-old fleet towards the end of 2020.

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As part of its franchise it aims to cut typical travel times for the 115-mile journey from one hour 50 minutes to one hour 30 minutes.

MORE: Swing bridge pressureAn Abellio UK spokesman said: 'Greater Anglia is meeting all of its franchise commitments and we expect it to continue to do so. Our £1.4bn investment in new trains will help unlock 13pc more capacity on the network in the coming years. 'Greater Anglia is also working with Network Rail and the Department for Transport to ensure that the correct infrastructure is in place, and negotiations on the May 2019 and December 2019 timetable changes are proceeding well.'