Rail taskforce pushes £9.3bn case for faster Norwich-London trains

The new Greater Anglia train arrives at London Liverpool Street.

The Great Eastern Main Line taskforce wants all Norwich to London trains to take 90 minutes. - Credit: Greater Anglia

Business and political leaders have repeated calls for investment in the line from London to Norwich - claiming it could bring £9.3bn in benefits.

But the goal of running all trains between Norwich and Liverpool Street in 90 minutes still seems a long way off because vital investment in Essex is not on the agenda. 

The Great Eastern Main Line taskforce case for investment points out that journey times in East Anglia are still longer for similar-length trips than in other parts of the country despite the new trains being introduced by Greater Anglia.

Norwich Station.

Journey times from Norwich to London far exceed those from places like Leicester, Peterborough and Bath. - Credit: Peter Dent

It takes 40 minutes longer to travel from Norwich to London than it does to travel from Grantham and almost 30 minutes longer than travelling from Bath to London. 

The taskforce's latest case for investment calls for new track to be installed at Bow Junction between Stratford and Liverpool Street, for new signalling between Colchester and Shenfield and for improvements along the line to enable all trains to reach "Norwich in 90" from the capital.

Train at Norwich station

Great Eastern Main Line taskforce has made a case to government for faster trains, better relaibility and increased capacity. - Credit: Archant

Handing the report to rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris, taskforce chairman Giles Watling MP said: “It is a call to arms not just from the taskforce partners, but from businesses, education establishments and passengers across the region who demand a faster, more reliable service.”

Chris Sargisson, chief executive at Norfolk Chambers of Commerce, said: “The introduction of new rolling stock is a much-welcomed improvement, but to capitalise we also need to see reduced journey times and upgrading of the track infrastructure along this essential route.”

Chris Sargisson, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce new chief executive.

Chris Sargisson, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce new chief executive. - Credit: Archant

The report also makes the case for increased capacity with forecasts indicating 30pc more passengers travelling to and from London in 2032.

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Some improvements are already in the pipeline. Network Rail has drawn up a proposal to improve Haughley junction between Stowmarket and Diss to reduce pressure on the main line to London. 

Trowse Swing Bridge.

Trowse swing bridge is one bottleneck stopped more trains from Norwich to London. - Credit: Mike Page

It is also in the early stages of drawing up plans to replace Trowse swing bridge which would improve capacity on both the main line and the Norwich to Cambridge and Peterborough routes.

Rail analysis - by David Hannant

For years, Norwich as a city has felt left out on a limb, with its geographical location limiting its potential.

It is so easy to forget that once upon a time it was the second city of this country, but as transport links have improved elsewhere the isolation Norwich can feel has been intensified.

Investments are being made in the north of the country that will allow people to get from coast to coast in similar amounts of time than it takes to get from Norwich to London.

As a forward thinking city, with some of the most advanced scientific minds around, we deserve a slice of that pay.
Investing in our connections with the rest of the country will help unlock our potential to be one of the nation's real big players.

Making significant strides in our transport links will then bring with it jobs, business and prosperity at a time when we need it the most.

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