Track works top priority for East Anglian MPs

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith

Norwich North MP Chloe Smith - Credit: Simon Finlay

The region's MPs pledged to make upgrades further down the track to speed up journey times a top priority at a rail summit in Westminster yesterday.

The leaders' blueprint of rail demands published as a prospectus last year will be updated to make demands for improvements north of Chelmsford one of its key aims, long with an urgent wishlist of improvements to the trains, or rolling stock.

The rail campaigners also want to push the case for the electrification of the line between Norwich and Cambridge.

But Norwich North MP Chloe Smith warned that the improvements the group were seeking would not be immediate, needing to be secured over the next decade.

She said: 'This was another very positive meeting and we are the same deterimined unified campaign team that we ever were.

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'We will be bringing forward some of the most important things to focus on in year two of the prospectus campaign such as the improvements north of Chelmsford which will allow faster journey times up and down the mainline.

She also said improvements to carriages would make a real difference to passengers. 'In all these cases you are looking at improvements that we need to secure for the next ten years. They are not immediate, but it is vital that keep up the pressure, keep working toeghetr and keep shouting for the investment that East Anglia deserves, only by doing that now will we get the long term gain.'

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She said that Ipswich MP Ben Gummer would be in charge of urgently drawing up a wishlist for the rolling stock to present to the Deparment for Transport.

Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman will be working on a business case for the electricication of the Norwich to Cambridge line.

While Witham MP Priti Patel would work on the case for improvements at Chelmsford.

Ms Smith said: 'What you see now is East Anglia working together. That was something we set out to do at the beginning when we chaired the first East Anglia rail summit in December 2011, I had hoped we would work together and now I can say it is true.

She added: 'It is really important that we carry on doing it for the benefit of the people who travel by train and want more jobs to come to our region.'

The meeting was held to monitor progress since the launch of the East Anglian Rail Prospectus a year ago and as well as being attended by many of the region's MPs, delegates also included Abellio, which currently runs the Greater Anglia franchise and Network Rail.

Local council leaders from Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex and New Anglia Lep managing director Chris Starkie were also at the meeting.

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