Wish list to tackle rising railway demand

Trowse railway swing bridge.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Trowse railway swing bridge.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: SIMON FINLAY

An array of projects needed to speed up and increase the number of train services to London and Cambridge has been drawn up to send to ministers for funding.

The new Network Rail report highlights the measures needed on the rail network to cope with an expected surge in demand for already packed rush-hour trains.

Measures include:

? a major upgrade to Trowse swing bridge

? extra tracks in Essex and Suffolk

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? extra platforms at Liverpool Street

? plans for level crossing closures

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But the taxpayer-funded infrastructure company Network Rail has not yet calculated how much the schemes will cost, or secured funding for the projects which will be needed to create more frequent and faster trains to the capital.

The study calculates that the number of people on rush-hour trains on the Norwich to London line is set to surge by 32pc by 2023 and 75pc by 2043. The West Anglia Main Line, which includes train services from King's Lynn to the capital, is set to surge 18pc in the next seven years, and 39pc in the next 27 years.

Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP and co-chairman of the Great Eastern Rail Mainline Taskforce, said if all of the improvements recommended were approved it would 'future proof' the service until 2043.

However, he added: 'It is also important to remember these are just recommendations, our job is to ensure they become a reality and to keep the pressure on Network Rail and the Department for Transport to ensure the funding is forthcoming.'

But Labour's Norwich South MP Clive Lewis said that if he were Network Rail he would not be holding his breath that it would get everything it was asking for. 'The budget is unravelling.'

Richard Schofield, Network Rail route managing director, said: 'Over the next three years, we will continue to deliver our Railway Upgrade Plan to deliver better journeys for passengers.

'However, it is clear there is still more to do to meet future demand.'

The study also recommends closing some level crossings, but bosses at Network Rail have said it is unlikely any road level crossings would be closed unless they are replaced by a bridge.

Creating extra capacity at Liverpool Street should be possible because many suburban services will be diverted through the Crossrail tunnel when that service fully opens in 2018.

Comment – Page 38

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