George Osborne: My pledge to create a train service to match East Anglia’s economy
- Credit: PA
Chancellor GEORGE OSBORNE tells EDP readers in his own words why he is committed to improving train links between Norwich and London.
East Anglia has a first-rate economy but a train service that can't keep up the pace.
Anyone who travels the line from London to Ipswich or Norwich knows what needs to be done.
The route needs more trains, newer trains and faster trains – and my promise today is that the government will help make it happen. We're going to put the great back into the Great Eastern Main Line. It's all part of a long-term economic plan.
And we're going to do it because I'm making sure that we act on the findings of a powerful local team of MPs and businesses.
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Conservative colleagues of mine such as Chloe Smith, Ben Gummer, Priti Patel and Simon Burns have been loud and clear in calling for change.
They are outstanding advocates for East Anglia – and it is because of their work that this week I'm announcing that the government will back the findings of the Great Eastern Rail taskforce.
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This means that we'll do what it takes to sort out the main line to get faster trains not just to Norwich in 90 minutes but to stops up and down the line – in places like Colchester, Chelmsford, Mainingtree, Ipswich and Diss too.
Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex are key contributors to our national economy – and we need to back that with better transport.
Whether it's Norwich with world-leading scientific research, Ipswich and Felixstowe with one of the nation's key freight ports or commuters up and down the line who make the journey to London each day, East Anglia can't keep relying on congested roads and a rail link that's been starved of investment for years.
I've seen it for myself – an intercity route that today has some of the oldest trains on the network and some of the lowest average speeds, too.
Under a new deal set by this government Abellio Greater Anglia is already starting to modernise the carriages – with things like power sockets, LED lighting and new seat covers – and improve reliability too – but that's just a first step.
So starting now we'll be demanding that private operators who want to bid for the right to run the route when it comes up for renewal come up with clear plans to make services faster and better.
That means things like a fresh fleet of trains and work on the track. And we will pick the bid that is best for East Anglia.
We have also announced a major road improvements package. We have completed the dualling of the A11 as promised, are due to start a £1.5bn scheme to improve the A14 shortly and, this week, announced we are investing over £300m to increase capacity on the A12 and to upgrade the A47.
These are roads which Conservative MPs like Peter Aldous and Brandon Lewis have campaigned hard for.
It is all a key part of the government's long-term plan to sort out Britain's infrastructure – with clearer roads, faster trains and world-beating ports. It's a big job and it can't be done overnight.
But thanks to strong local Conservative voices, we know what needs to be done to get better transport links to East Anglia and we're building them.