MPs told Norwich to London investment three or four times bigger than HS2

Mark Pendlington, chairman of the New Anglia LEP

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

Multi-million pound investment on the rail line between Norfolk and Suffolk and London could provide an investment and jobs return three or four times bigger than the controversial high-speed two line from the capital to the Midlands, MPs have been told.

Mark Pendlington, chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and co-chair of the Great Eastern Rail Campaign, gave evidence to the Transport Select Committee in parliament as the group put the finishing touches to its report, which will be handed to the Government in the coming weeks. The campaign has been backed online by 1,600 people.

He also told MPs that companies looking to re-locate to East Anglia were nervous about the state of the railways, telling the committee that an international businessman deciding whether to locate his enterprise in Norfolk had been stuck at Liverpool Street station earlier in the summer.

Mr Pendlington said: 'I was at the other end of the line waiting to see him to say 'this is a great, dynamic, vibrant economy, you need to be here for lifestyle for work, for employees for skills'. I could see the look he gave me off the train.'

He warned that there were many more looking, but there was a 'big disincentive' because of the state of the railway, saying that transport needed to be taken off the worry list of investors.

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But he said that he was 'very confident' that the region's rail campaign would be successful in winning money for investment, after the Chancellor is given the business case.

He said it was the 'strongest and most compelling case' that he has seen for investment in over 30 years in business, and if investment was not provided, it would consign East Anglia - 'one of the two great contributors to the Treasury' - to '10 more years of misery and inadequate infrastructure'.

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'When you are looking at the investment we are asking for, it is in budgets already. We are just asking for prioritisation and a little bit of help.'

He said that the indication from consultants working on the project was that the return could be three or four times that of the projects HS2 or HS3 - amounting to eight or nine for each pound spent. 'I hope the Chancellor is listening when we give in the document,' he added.

'We would be very free to create the California of Europe,' he added.

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