Businesses call for better rail - see what bosses at key regional companies had to say about why we need a better rail service

A map from the Great Eastern Rail taskforce business case showing journey times on other key inter-c

A map from the Great Eastern Rail taskforce business case showing journey times on other key inter-city main line routes. - Credit: Archant

The New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership has got businesses and public sector bodies to back the campaign for better rail. From Aviva to the Norwich Research Park, submissions have been included in the business plan which will go to the Chancellor.

Here is what bosses from key companies from the region had to say:

Aviva


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Stuart Wright, Property and Facilities Director, 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

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serving a world-wide market. We appreciate all support in ensuring the region works together to improve the rail network. In 2013 Aviva spent approximately £700k on around 19,000 staff rail journeys between Norwich and London and the trend continues this year. Where our staff need to travel, it is essential that they have a fast and reliable service. Equally important is that they can use the travel time to best effect – improved, free Wi-Fi and electric sockets are a pre-requisite. We appreciate the provision of faster services at 7.40 returning at 17.00, but would welcome additional

services with similar journey times.'

Kier

Derek Buchanan, Kier Services Development Director, Highways Kier is a leading UK construction, services and property company, which employs a significant number of people in the East Anglian region, on projects including the Suffolk Highways maintenance contract, the construction of new schools in Chelmsford and Ipswich and the remodelling of the City College in Norwich.

He said: 'We very much support the Great Eastern Rail Campaign, which will improve transport infrastructure and as such act as key enabler for enhanced growth and future prosperity. Reducing journey times and congestion will improve the quality of life and make the region more attractive for business, which in turn will provide a more resilient and sustainable economy as proven in many other parts of the country.

The proposal will mean that we are more competitive and as such will result in more employment opportunities across the region, including the ability for us to attract and retain vital skills in East Anglia.'

Willis

Mark Parker, Managing Director, Global Services Centres. Willis is a leading global risk adviser, insurance and reinsurance broker.

He said: 'We have a significant operation in Ipswich and it is vital that we are well connected to clients and insurers. We need to be able to access both the London insurance market – which is at the heart of the world's insurance industry – and our central London operation quickly and easily. This access is necessary for the success of our daily business operations where our people are required to travel between Ipswich and London. It will also help ensure that we attract talent to our offices in both locations. Investment in the Great Eastern Main Line between Liverpool Street and Norwich will help deliver a more reliable, quality and efficient train service. I believe this is vital step that will ensure the continued success and

growth of our operation in Ipswich and therefore help maintain the UK as the world's leading global insurance market. It will also have a significant and positive impact on the many other businesses in the Ipswich and surrounding area.'

Smart 421

Neil Miles, Managing Director, Ipswich, said: 'I cannot stress strongly enough the importance for businesses of supporting the Great Eastern Rail

Campaign. Joining will bring about real change to the rail services we depend on for our rail connection to London, and beyond. Investment in GEML is vital because it means we can showcase all that's great about doing business with firms in the Eastern region, so the campaign has my full backing.'

Suffolk County Council

Councillor Graham Newman Cabinet Member for Roads, Transport and Planning, said: 'This Government recognises the vital importance of strong rail links and main lines that are fit for purpose, especially on key routes such as those between Stowmarket and London. It is essential that we work jointly with our partners in the Taskforce to urge central Government to deliver the very best rail services for the sake of Suffolk's and the region's economy – one of the few net contributors to HM Treasury.

Suffolk's businesses and residents deserve an excellent rail service, which will bring widespread benefits to both the economy and all travellers.

We are committed to working as part of this Taskforce – and alongside the rail industry to identify opportunities that will improve services and drive

forward the local economy.'

Abellio Greater Anglia

Jamie Burles, Managing Director for Abellio Greater Anglia, said: 'Abellio Greater Anglia is fully supportive of the Great Eastern Rail Campaign. We are passionate about securing and delivering major upgrades for the Great Eastern Main Line. The next year provides a crucial window to influence major investment decisions which will affect future improvements to rolling stock and infrastructure, through the next franchise letting process and Network Rail's Route Study strategy.

The collective business, economic and regional case being made by passengers, businesses, local authorities, politicians, other stakeholders and

ourselves (as the current train operator) is compelling. Our network and our region clearly justify the major investment in rolling stock and infrastructure being proposed. We will continue to play a positive role in improving services in the short term, with enhancements such as the refresh for the intercity trains, as well as helping to shape long term plans.

With the right investment, we can achieve a service on the GEML of which the region and the railway can be proud and which hugely benefits passengers,

businesses and communities across East Anglia.'

PWC

Andy Grimbly, Senior Partner, Norwich, said: 'Norfolk has a fantastic business community and world class research facilities but these need an

effective, efficient and sustainable infrastructure to thrive, be competitive, and remain a key force in sustainable growth for the UK economy.

Upgrading infrastructure helps to bring further investment to any area and this, in turn, has beneficial impacts beyond the business community.'

The Jockey Club

Amy Starkey, Regional Director – East, Jockey Club Racecourses, said: 'As one of the biggest visitor attractions in East Anglia,

Newmarket Racecourses is committed to supporting the improvement of railway services in East Anglia. We are fully behind the Great Eastern Rail Campaign. Each year a third of a million people come to the two racecourses. Not only would the region benefit if public transport encouraged more visitors, but better links would lead to more of our current visitors using the train.

While many race-goers attend from within East Anglia, a large number come from beyond the region especially London. If the railway service is more

convenient, we would anticipate increasing numbers at the major horse racing events.'

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce

John Dugmore, Chief Executive, said: 'An upgraded rail infrastructure and better quality trains are fundamental to the continued and future success of

business across Suffolk and Norfolk. That is why this campaign is so important and why its success will build on the foundations of our economic prosperity. It is vital that commuters to London and those visiting our counties either on business or leisure can do so in a way that Norfolk and Suffolk deserve. We need people to be able to arrive at their destination in good time, without delays, in comfort and on modern and reliable rolling stock properly equipped for business use. That is why Suffolk Chamber and firms across the county are getting behind this campaign.'

John Lewis

Richard Marks, Head of Norwich Branch, said: 'John Lewis Norwich supports the campaign calling for greater improvements and investment on the Norwich to London, Great Eastern Main Line. Any improvements to accessibility to Norwich, Norfolk and Suffolk as a region is good news for our customers

and our Partners and will help to sustain our business success into the future.'

Norwich City Council

Brenda Arthur, leader of Norwich City Council, said: 'Norwich is an expanding centre for business, industry and tourism and has all the ingredients it needs to make a major contribution to the UK's growth over the coming years. Improved infrastructure and fast and efficient public transport services are a vital component in helping the city realise its potential. This campaign will show how important investment in the Great Eastern main line is for our area and its economy as a whole.'

Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

Caroline Williams, Chief Executive, said: 'Improvements to rail infrastructure in Norfolk has lagged behind the rest of the UK for many years and

to ensure Norfolk businesses remain accessible and competitive, we need a faster, more reliable service. The upgrading of lines, overhead cables and quality of track are vital, together with higher quality rolling stock, with more capacity and automatic doors. An improved rail service between Norwich and London, will better enable the Norfolk business community to deliver economic growth and jobs.'

DanceEast

Brendan Keaney, Artistic Director and Chief Executive, said; 'From 2015-18 the Arts Council England announced in July that it will be investing over £2.4million in DanceEast to deliver an dynamic programme of work from its iconic building base the Jerwood DanceHouse.

This represents a huge vote of confidence, not just in DanceEast but also in Ipswich as the creative heart of Suffolk. We believe that growing the cultural capital of this town will not just make it a better place to live and work, it will also develop Ipswich's reputation as a visitor destination. We want to deliver the maximum dividend on the Arts Council's investment, but this requires we provide the full package, which includes

artists and audiences having access to a high quality, fast and reliable rail service that matches the ambition of our plans.'

Norfolk County Council

Toby Coke, Chairman of Norfolk County Council's Environment, Development & Transport Committee, said: 'Investment in the London to Norwich Main Line can deliver big economic benefits along the whole route, and at a fraction of the cost of HS2. We must not let the Great Eastern Mail Line be the Cinderella rail service once again while billions is invested elsewhere. This campaign will be a powerful voice for Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, and for all those passengers who deserve fast, reliable, modern services, rather than a railway that seems to be stuck in the last century. Norwich in 90 minutes from London remains a key improvement target, and Norfolk County Council is fully behind this campaign.'

Jarrold

Peter Mitchell, Group Managing Director, Norwich, 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. 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.'

University of East Anglia

Having the capital 'on our doorstep' in terms of travel time is a great advantage. Any reduction in journey times would further enhance UEA's

appeal to applicants... It is in all our interests for that journey to be as smooth and speedy as possible.

Glazing Vision

Jon Shooter, Managing Director, Diss, said: 'Glazing Vision Ltd is very supportive of the Great Eastern Rail Campaign because as a business it

would benefit us greatly to have a more efficient service. 80% of our clients are London based and we use the train service weekly to visit clients. I myself have been left frustrated many times on the train from Norwich to London, late on many occasions and trains breaking down on more than one occasion, extremely frustrating. A lot of my staff spend a great deal of time and money on the train, time which would be better spent servicing our clients rather than on a train.

We are a manufacturer of glass rooflights, we sell to architects mainly based in London, getting them to visit us in Norfolk would be a massive advantage, if we have the network to offer them a quick trip they'd be more inclined to do so.

I often get the train to Paris on business, it is actually quicker to get from London to Paris, than it is to go from London to Norwich.'

Mecca

Janette McCracken, General Manager, Norwich, said; 'An improved rail service in Anglia would have an enormous benefit to Tourism for the region. In addition, delivering the four key aims would also improve commuter experience in the area and encourage more people to travel by rail. As someone who travels by rail considerably the comparison of the speed and quality of the service on Anglia trains is by far a poorer experience than other networks and does not echo the reality of what Anglia as a region has to offer.'

Larking Gowen

Charlie Savoury, Partner, Norwich, said: 'The Great Eastern Rail Campaign should be a priority now that the A11 duelling nears completion because it

is an equally important initiative. A majority of Larking Gowen's nearly 300 strong workforce rely on having access to this service, whether for commuting to and from work or because it links our two major regional hubs, Norwich and Ipswich. We are keen to see this initiative succeed, beyond the convenience factor, as the cost to our business of turning up late to a meeting due to an unreliable train service goes beyond purely the financial, and starts to damage reputation and credibility. Our clients talk regularly about the remoteness of being in business in the Eastern most corner of the UK, and often cite an improved more reliable and faster rail network as an important element for overcoming this challenge and further opening the

door for business in our region.'

BDO

James Shipp, Partner, Norwich, said: 'The Great Eastern Rail main line is important to BDO LLP as it connects our local regional offices with our

head office in London. A faster rail link would enable us to connect our clients face to face with our wider network of specialists in the sectors that our clients are based in, therefore increasing the service that we can provide to them.'

Castle Mall

Paul McCarthy, Centre Manager, Norwich, said; 'As a net contributor to the economy we don't normally ask for much, but we need support from central

Government in delivering transformative national infrastructure. Great connectivity, be that digitally, or physically by road or rail, is essential to both commerce and quality of life. It provides access, options and opportunity for businesses and local Government to compete for talent, time and investment. As a business that provides employment to 900 people today and a further 300 were demand to rise, we are supportive of the long overdue improvements central to the Great Eastern Rail Campaign. These will bring growth to Norwich, increased income within the catchment and greater access to our region for tourists and new businesses alike. The opportunity must be taken to leverage value for all of us from the new rail franchise for our region, supported where required through access to national capital expenditure.'

Caterham Technology

Ben McGuire, Commercial Director, Caterham Technology & Innovation, Norwich, said: 'Caterham supports the Great Eastern Rail Campaign because it is a key part of supporting the growth and expansion of businesses within the region. The campaign is important to Caterham as it makes our

business more accessible to customers and suppliers by giving them increased travel options. The current train service, particularly from London, still takes too long and is often full, putting people off of getting the trains completely. An improved rail service would increase our productivity due to a reduction in time spent travelling and making rail travel a more appealing option compared to road travel.'

Targetfollow

Tina Moore, Senior Director, Norwich, said: 'Targetfollow Estates Limited is very supportive of the Great Eastern Rail Campaign and seeing the four

key aims of the project being delivered. Primarily this is because a significant proportion of our key business meetings and transactions are carried out with corporate organisations in London, with frequent weekly business trips by members of our team. This would also assist us with recruiting professional staff from further afield, who may consider joining our organisation if journey times were shorter. Therefore, an improved rail service will have a direct impact on time resource, recruitment and employee wellbeing. A positive outcome in this respect would be most welcome by Targetfollow.'

Lovewell Blake

Simon Watson, Partner, Norwich, said: 'The improvement of rail links between Norwich and London is vitally important to both Lovewell Blake and

our clients. The continued economic growth in our region is becoming increasingly reliant on business opportunities, both nationally and internationally, needing to be accessed via the Capital. Improved travelling times can greatly enhance the actual and perceived attraction of doing business with Norfolk businesses and facilitate attracting the calibre of people required by employers in our region.'

National Trust

Ben Cowell, Regional Director, East of England, Blickling, said: 'The National Trust is happy to support the Great Eastern Rail Campaign. The East of England boasts some of our most special landscapes, from historic mansions like Blickling Hall (just north of Norwich) to the spectacular North Norfolk coastline. For too long these places have simply been out of reach. A faster, more reliable train service will help to encourage more people to discover for themselves what Norfolk and the other Eastern counties can offer – whether for business or for leisure.'

First

Steve Wickers, Commercial Director, First Bus in Eastern Counties and Essex, said; 'First Eastern Counties supports the Great Eastern Rail

Campaign because public transport is a key ingredient to help businesses and communities prosper. An improved rail service will undoubtedly help

businesses in the area – it will boost the economy and help to recruit new talent to the surrounding areas. The campaign is important to First as investment in public transport and infrastructure is essential to tackle ever worsening congestion issues, and it will create opportunities and make Norfolk a more desirable place to live, work and visit.'

Norse

Peter Hawes, Managing Director, Norwich, said: 'As a leading employer in Norfolk and Suffolk, Norse Commercial Services has thrown its full support behind the Great Eastern Rail Campaign. East Anglia is Norse's business heartland and it's vital that this region secures the investment it richly deserves, raising standards of rail services to 21st century levels and making our counties more accessible and competitive. Based in Norwich, Norse Group has national coverage – with a growing workforce of more than 12,500 people across the country. Better rail links are essential to our ongoing expansion, as we continue to create more jobs and generate wealth for the region. Updated train services also ensure that Norse staff feel part of a

unified, fast-moving business. Norse has become renowned as a 'force for good' in the local and regional economies, providing secure employment and offering numerous trading opportunities. We therefore always applaud any initiatives that help this often overlooked part of the country to grow and prosper.'

Norwich BID

Stefan Gurney, Executive Director, Norwich Business Improvement District, said; 'Norwich Business Improvement District (BID) represents around 700 businesses in Norwich city centre and feels the Great Eastern Rail Campaign is a key to the continued growth and development of Norwich. The campaign highlights the need for central Government to look outside London for economic drivers and regional growth and this comes hand in glove with the key infrastructure support to deliver this. The proposed improvements to the rail network will also support the rich tourism and cultural heritage offering of the region, continue to deliver a high quality of life and allows business to attract and retain high calibre personnel and innovative business

and investment. Norwich BID sees the long overdue works to the region, as levelling the playing field with the rest of the rail network, not as improvements. The Great Eastern Rail Campaign will support the continued growth of £317million in expenditure on day visits to Norwich and the 1.5million average footfall in Norwich city centre supporting retail, bars, restaurants, leisure and cultural business. There is a clear economic case for the national capital expenditure to deliver value to all of the Norwich area in the new rail franchise.'

NTS

James Mason, Commercial Director,Norfolk Training Services, Norwich, said: 'I am very supportive of the Great Eastern Rail Campaign because for too long Norwich and Norfolk have been made to feel cut off from the remainder of the UK and available economic opportunities. The campaign is important to Norfolk Training Services Ltd because we partner with and sub-contract from various organisations with offices throughout the country. A faster more reliable train service would facilitate better relationships and ultimately lead to more provision and funding being delivered in Norfolk. A faster and more reliable train service is important because, in business, speed of decision and action together with reliability of supply are vital for success.

The train service used by business people should be no different. A greater capacity to reduce over-crowding is necessary because a better travelling experience will encourage potential passengers. Business people are people first and business second – many would rather not travel than travel uncomfortably.'

Anglia Farmers

Clarke Willis, Chief Executive, Anglia Farmers Ltd, said: 'The ability for people to travel between London and Norwich within 90 minutes would encourage more business meetings outside the capital city. Subsequently, business executives would be able to realise and experience the offerings of other major cities along the route. As a major employer of East Anglia we have recently experienced difficulties in recruiting senior members of

staff due to the poor train and road links to the region. This is now being helped with the recent road improvements that the Government has approved and the development of the Great Eastern Railway can only improve the development of East Anglia with the skills and expertise that is needed to ensure that the area continues to thrive; the region is vibrant with a growing innovation in food technology and agri-tech that needs investment to connect to the London hub. The recommendation for significant investment in the rail link to East Anglia is fully supported by Anglia Farmers Ltd.'

Rogers & Norton

Richard Etheridge, Managing Director, Norwich, said: 'We at Rogers & Norton Limited are very supportive of the Great Eastern Rail Campaign because

Norwich and Norfolk desperately need good fast and efficient rail links to enable Norfolk businesses to sell themselves to the rest of the UK and the world. This area has always been thought of as a lovely place to live but difficult to get to. The road and rail links have been poor. There are some amazing things going on in Norfolk on the business front but until the rail service is brought up to the standard this makes it that much more difficult for us here in Norfolk. Having said that I am very optimistic that Norwich and Norfolk has a great future ahead of it and any improvement in the rail service can only help tourism, business and travellers on the service. We will watch progress with interest.'

Alan Boswell Group

John Whitehead, Managing Director, Norwich, said; 'Alan Boswell Group are very supportive of the Great Eastern Rail Campaign and calls on the Government to provide significant investment in the track infrastructure on the, Norwich to London, Great Eastern main line. As a business operating with seven offices in London and across the Eastern Region we recognise the importance of providing greater capacity to reduce overcrowding, a better quality travelling experience and, of course, faster and more reliable services. Our business provides financial advice, risk management and insurance services to tens of thousands of clients with an independent and personalised approach. With regular meetings held in London we rely on the rail network to provide fast, reliable access to the capital and the ability to provide that one to one service is significantly diminished when rail services become interrupted.'

The Click

Bobby Burrage, Managing Director, The Click Design Consultants, Norwich, said: 'In recent years it has become evermore apparent that

the Great Eastern Main Line needs to be significantly improved. Priority upgrades should include the journey time (Norwich to London in 90 minutes), reliability (it's all too often we experience serious delays) and better quality carriages (I travel First Class, which isn't even as good as standard class on some other trains around the UK). I'm confident that most professional services businesses in Norfolk will share my concerns and will likely be able to add to the list of suggested improvements I make here. My business, The Click Design Consultants, has been doing business in London for the last ten years and is very much reliant on a good quality and reliable train service. In recent years especially, it's starting to feel like a chore to have to use the service – knowing that it's quite likely I'll be delayed, have to endure mediocre service and for it to take two hours to get in to / out of London. It's just not good enough. Norfolk's business community is clearly progressing faster than it's train services. It's now time for the Great Eastern Main Line to catch up in terms of service.'

Broadland Wineries

Mark Lansley, Chief Executive, Norwich, said: 'We are very supportive of the Great Eastern Rail Campaign because many of our suppliers, staff

and customers are based in or around London and their journey time, cost and comfort to and from our winery near Norwich is important to them and our

ongoing growth.'

Richard Perkins

Richard Perkins, Richard Perkins Associates, Lowestoft, said: 'The lack of a reliable, punctual, good quality main line railway service between Essex, Suffolk & Norfolk and London is detrimental to both business growth and business retention in our region. I strongly encourage all businesses to sign up to the New Anglia LEP Great Eastern Rail Campaign, because through our concerted action we can ensure that Government takes notice and makes the required decisions for major capital investment into the railway infrastructure serving our region, which has been seriously neglected for too long.

Mills and Reeve

Mark Jeffries, Senior Partner, said: 'I am very supportive of the Great Eastern Rail Campaign because it has the potential to do much to improve the impression created by both journey times from London to Chelmsford, Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich. I hope it will also secure an improvement in

the quality of rolling stock on the line.The campaign is important to Mills & Reeve because we are keen to see the corridor along the Liverpool Street to Norwich line developed to its full economic potential. It is critical to the future success of the Norwich and wider Norfolk economy.

It is important that the four key aims of the campaign are delivered because it will play a significant part in diluting the perception of Norfolk as a remote rural back water. An improved rail service will improve our prospects for recruitment of talented lawyers who might currently be working in the City of London. It will also improve the experience of clients who use the train service to visit our Norwich office.'

Federation of Small Businesses

'The Federation of Small Businesses supports the principles of the Great Eastern Rail Campaign and believes that improved rail links between London,

Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk would help to generate economic growth along the length of the line improving accessibility for commuters and visitors, and as part of the wider transport infrastructure support increased freight movement within the Region and in and out of Felixstowe and Harwich increasing opportunities for businesses in the region to import and export manufactured products.'

EastPort

Bruce Copeland, General Manager, Great Yarmouth Port Company Ltd (trading as EastPort UK), Great Yarmouth, said: 'I am very supportive of the Great Eastern Rail Campaign because a) the journey time to/from London has not improved since the days of steam trains and b)good transport links to a region are vital for business. The reason the campaign is important to EastPort UK is visiting customers gain an initial impression of a region on the efficiency of the transportation and directors/shareholders travelling to key meetings need quick reliable links. On at least 2 occasions in the last 3 months important customer meetings have been disrupted due to late arrival of trains into Norwich.'

Aker Solutions

Mark Goodall, Area Manager, Great Yarmouth, said; 'As a company working in the Energy sector with an operating base in Great Yarmouth we are very

supportive of the Great Eastern Rail Campaign. London is where several of our clients are headquartered and the current services are totally

inadequate. In this day and age travel should be an enjoyable experience whether for business or pleasure. At present the service between Norwich and London is simply unacceptable in either direction. It is neither quick nor reliable. It is generally overcrowded at peak times requiring passengers to stand for long periods of their journeys for which they have paid handsomely. There is a distinct lack of on onboard facilities, with phone signals and internet unreliable and charging points very rare further lowering the experience.

'It's about time rail infrastructure, and infrastructure in general, in Norfolk and Suffolk was to a standard which enabled business to function more efficiently, and in turn, be more profitable benefiting the economy in terms of creating more jobs. Get into the 21st Century.'

Watsons

Andrew Tayler, Senior Partner, Norwich, said; 'The existing rail service is slow, uncomfortable and prone to stoppages; is inferior to competing services; does not encourage individuals and businesses to move to live and work here; and supports the perception of Norfolk as a backwater.

Watsons is expanding and has increased employee numbers by 20%. Delivery of the four key aims is important for our continued growth as they will enhance movement within the region, bring within reach a larger employment pool, enhance Norfolk as a commuter area, and lead to increased demands for our clients' properties and our business's property services.

In particular achievement of the aims will be a major improvement in links with London, improving the image of the County and giving greater access to

opportunities for business in both the region and the Capital, thus increasing prosperity in the county.'

Steeles Law

Stephen Drake, Chief Executive, Norwich, said: 'Steeles Law Solicitors has its roots set firmly in Norfolk, but also retains an office in Central London to service our commercial clients, many of whom are not based in the local area. We feel that the Great Eastern Rail Campaign is of critical importance to regional companies like ours, who have a strong desire to build and maintain a client base in London and beyond. As a Norfolk based company, we are extremely proud to be part of a thriving local business community, which should not be geographically bound by a poor, expensive and unreliable train service. With the dualling of the A11 currently underway, development of local rail infrastructure must surely be the next step

towards linking regional business centres with the capital for mutual economic benefit.'

The Forum

Tim Bishop, chief executive, The Forum Trust Ltd, Norwich, said; 'Manchester to London, distance 180 miles, time on the train just over 2 hours, with plans to cut to nearer one hour, business happiness. Norwich to London 105 miles, time on the train just under two hours, no plans to improve, result business misery.'

Savills

David Merrick, Director, Savills, Norwich, said; 'We support the campaign as the railway gives such a poor impression to those travelling to East Anglia to do business. It shows lack of investment which taints everything we are trying to do to get people to invest in major development and infrastructure projects.For example….major and important meeting at Birketts yesterday with clients and solicitors from London attending. Delayed due to train delays at Colchester. Meeting disrupted. Message they got from taxi driver was that this happens all the time. They question why

they are doing business in Norwich.We work so hard to get people to treat us seriously and take on projects and then they have to 'suffer' the

disgusting carriages and regular delays. I don't mind the timetable and length of journey, what I want to see is new rolling stock, smart staff and network rail changing the overhead lines so we don't suffer each summer. The impression the railway gives is last century, shows the Government are not investing in this area, puts us way behind other areas and when I see what money they are putting in to HS2 it makes me weep. The money they have spent on fees to date re HS2 would have paid for new rolling stock on this line. THEY MUST CHANGE THEIR RAILWAY PRIORITIES.'

Kinnerton

Gordon Chetwood, Manufacturing Site Director, Kinnerton Confectionery, Fakenham, said; 'As a growing and successful business in the heart

of Norfolk, good transport links are an essential ingredient. Therefore a significantly improved rail service will have a positive impact on our business. Many of our customers are based in London and the South East and rely on quick and efficient transport links for their frequent visits to site. An enhanced and efficient rail service into Norwich can only have a positive impact.'

Arnold Keys

Guy Gowing, Managing Partner, Norwich, said; 'We, at Arnolds Keys are very supportive of theGreat Eastern Rail Campaign as it is important to have a fast reliable service to the capital, where a considerable amount of property funding and services are provided from. It is particularly important to our firm as we deal with a number of national and international clients, many of whom have their head offices or are based in London and easy access is therefore important.The particular frustration we are experiencing at the moment is lack of reliability with the railway service. This means that if we have a meeting at a set time we need to allow additional hour, to allow of the unreliable rail service. This is a waste of resources and time and

adds considerably to our operating costs. With over 100 staff, we have around 15% that need to regularly travel to London. This therefore means that on average we have around 60 wasted hours in London, which costs our business approximately £6,000 a year by the lack of reliability.

Many of our clients that come travelling from London and the south east would utilise the rail service and they similarly would be adding additional time to their journey to allow for delays corresponding costs to them.'

SaxonAir

Alex Durand, Chief Executive, Norwich, said; 'We support the Great Eastern Rail Campaign because we find it difficult to connect with other South East

England based businesses due to the time taken to travel to London. The campaign is important to us as it will reduce the commercial isolation we

sometimes feel, encourage more business visitors and employment opportunities. The four key aims are all essential, as an improved travel experience would encourage more travel on the service. We struggle to recruit staff due to poor travel connections, and we would expect to double the number of B2B visits to our facility if rail services were improved. We travel less than we should to meet clients/suppliers in the London area, and if this campaign was successful we would pursue opportunities we are currently missing.'

Sprowston Manor

Andrew Dickson, General Manager, A Marriott Hotel & Country Club, Sprowston, said: 'The Norwich in 90 minutes campaign will be paramount in the success of all local Hospitality providers in the coming years. It will help to eliminate the common perception that Norwich as a tourism destination is too far for commuters from London and surrounding Counties. Marriott Sprowston Manor Hotel and Country Club provides accommodation for both midweek corporate and weekend leisure travellers. These two types of guests will experience great benefits from the successful implementation of the

four key aims of this campaign. I urge the Government to support funding for this integral campaign to assist businesses within the region in achieving their economic successes.'

Dunston Hall

Denis McEvoy, General Manager, DeVere Dunston Hall Hotel, Norwich, said; 'Dunston Hall fully supports the Great Eastern Rail Campaign as we believe it would bring vital extra business into the city of Norwich. Norwich frequently misses out on larger conferences and conventions, despite having adequate facilities, due to the slower and less convenient transport options available to Norwich. Delivery of the four aims of this campaign will make Norwich a more accessible and appealing option for businesses and event organisers. For us, and also many other hospitality businesses in Norwich, and improved rail service would also mean increased leisure business and an overall better experience for our leisure guests.'

Yellow Brick Road

Ian Hacon, President of Norfolk Chamber & Founder of Yellow Brick Road, Great Yarmouth, said: 'A fast rail service into London is fundamentally

important to business in Norfolk, from Aviva through to a small B&B on the Norfolk coast. It will help access to markets movement of labour and inward investment, as well as safe guarding existing Norfolk jobs as business in an ever changing world look to be more global and agile.

In my own business, Yellow Brick Road, I see London and Cambridge as key markets and unlocking this faster route will make product delivery in London or Cambridge viable without the need for overnight stays.'

Norwich Research Park

Sally Ann Forsyth, Chief Executive, Norwich Research Park said: 'For Norwich Research Park to deliver economic growth and jobs it needs to attract companies, investment and high quality researchers to the Park. International and UK connectivity is key to the Research Park achieving these aims and having a fast, frequent and reliable rail service to London and Cambridge is of paramount importance. Across the Park, more and more people are choosing to commute, network and conduct business worldwide so it is critical that the aims of the rail campaign are met. Norwich Research Partners LLP is very pleased to support the Great Eastern Rail Campaign.'

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