‘Rail investment vital to keep economy on track’

Mark Pendlington, chairman of the New Anglia LEP

Mark Pendlington, chairman of the New Anglia LEP - Credit: Keith Whitmore

Driving fresh investment into the region's rail service is 'vital' to Norfolk and Suffolk's economic future, business leaders have warned

The message comes as East Anglia's top companies rally behind the Great Eastern Rail Campaign in a bid to persuade the government to shore up the Norwich to London main line.

Insurance giant Aviva, Jarrold & Son, sports car manufacturer Caterham Technology and Innovation and accountants Larking Gowen have all signed a petition, which will be presented to the government this Autumn.

New Anglia LEP is writing to over 200 business leaders across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex asking for their personal support. More than more than 770 rail passengers and businesses having already signed up to the campaign

Stuart Wright, property and facilities director at Aviva, said: 'Aviva is a global business and an effective transport infrastructure is critical to our operations – particularly in Norwich where we employ a considerable number of people.

Whilst we are increasingly using technology to both support collaboration and reduce travel, there is a degree of direct contact and team-work that will always be vital. Efficient rail links between London, our international transport hub and Norwich, is increasingly important for the Eastern region to remain competitive and attractive to organisations serving a world-wide market.'

Peter Mitchell, group managing director, Jarrold & Sons, said: 'Jarrold believe the campaign to upgrade the London to Norwich rail line is vital to the success of our business and the success of the wider Norwich economy.

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'As a Norwich-based business, our connections into London are essential. My team travel every week to and from London, and we have visits to Norwich even more frequently to Norwich from our suppliers and business partners. Poor journey experience adds to the unwelcome perception that Norfolk is remote, insular and frustrating to do business with. Norwich in 90 is a realistic objective and we strongly support the campaign.'

The LEP, the region's MPs, business and rail leaders are heading a Taskforce calling for a faster, more reliable service. It is due to report to government in November making the strong economic case for investment in the line.

Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP, said: 'We are grateful for the support we have already had for the campaign, but personal endorsements from those who suffer the real economic consequences of a poor train service is compelling and it gives us further solid evidence to take to Government in the Autumn.'

• If you want to back the rail campaign, then visit newanglia.co.uk/gerailcampaign