Prime Minister David Cameron’s better transport pledge for East Anglia
Improving transport links between the region and the rest of the country is the most important challenge facing the government as far as East Anglia is concerned.
That's the message prime minister David Cameron gave when he held a cabinet to the region yesterday.
After the meeting, Mr Cameron visited the Ipswich offices of the EDP's sister paper, the East Anglian Daily Times, where he met editor Terry Hunt and Archant Anglia managing director Johnny Hustler.
Mr Cameron said: 'We have basically taken the key list of infrastructure improvements and acted on most of them.
'Looking at the railway situation, I recognise that the rolling stock and the quality of your line is not as good as some others in the country.'
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Mr Cameron was accompanied by Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, who is helping to organise a cross-party group of Suffolk and Norfolk MPs to press for improvements on the region's rail network.
Mr Cameron added: 'There is a plan to address that which is this longer franchise agreement for 15 years where I know Ben and others will be saying with a longer franchise we want to see better rolling stock, station improvements, line improvements, and that's what a long franchise gives you the ability to do.'
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When asked whether next year was vital for rail investment, Mr Cameron replied: 'I think there are two points here. There is Network Rail's process of investment, and in the autumn statement we gave that a kick-start by effectively allowing them to borrow more money and backing that so there are some improvements there...
'Secondly, when you have a longer franchise you can say to the potential franchise: 'If you want to see the 15 years, we've got to see platforms lengthened, station improvements, better rolling stock.'
Mr Cameron insisted East Anglia would have a vital role in re-starting the British economy.
'That is one of the reasons for bringing the cabinet here,' he said.
'I think the eastern region in general... can be rather forgotten by London because London politicians think of the north/south divide and they think of regional policy in terms of the north west and north east.
'They don't focus on a region which is actually a net contributor to the exchequer, that's got immense economic potential.
'And there's a lot of success to celebrate.'