Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin today (2 December 2014) said that the government will support the key recommendations of the Great Eastern Main Line (GEML) Taskforce’s report as it moves forward with the next Anglia franchise.
Speaking at Liverpool Street Station, Mr McLoughlin, who has asked Network Rail to continue developing improvements to the speed of the line over the next few years, paid tribute to the taskforce and the Norwich in Ninety campaign, pledging its recommendations would be supported through the next franchising process:
We know East Anglia’s growing economy needs a better rail service. Part of this government’s long term economic plan is to ensure growth and prosperity for the region and for the nation as a whole.
We’re already investing more than £38 billion in our rail network over the next 5 years. There are improvements on the way for East Anglia thanks to £170 million of track and signalling upgrades next year, and we’ve agreed improvements to services with the existing Abellio Greater Anglia franchise.
I am very grateful to the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce and the Norwich in Ninety campaign for their analysis of what needs to be done to help deliver world-class rail services for East Anglia, including better infrastructure and state-of the-art rolling stock. I am delighted to say we are going to support the key recommendations of the task force report.
This government is sending a clear signal to prospective bidders for the next franchise that they will need to show how they will build a better rail network for East Anglia and make Norwich in Ninety a reality.
Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North and co-chair of GEML Taskforce, said:
I am delighted that the rail campaign I’ve led for years now has succeeded, with the Chancellor agreeing our call for action on the Norwich to London line. This will achieve a massive result for East Anglia, and bring thousands of jobs to the area. On behalf of the thousands of passengers who are part of this campaign, this is the fair deal we need.
Mark Pendlington, Chairman of New Anglia LEP and co-chair of GEML Taskforce, said:
This is a massive achievement for our rail campaign and yet another vote of confidence for the future of our region. The voices of many thousands of rail passengers and businesses across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex have been heard, loud and clear.
Our ambitions are clear; to make this one of the best regions in the UK to invest, bring jobs and increase skills. Today’s announcement brings us a major step forward to that goal.
This is the best result we have ever had for the Great Eastern Main Line and it is all down to the power of effective collaboration with passengers, businesses, local authorities, MPs and education leaders, working together to put a compelling case across. I would like to thank them all for their fantastic efforts throughout the year.
The announcement was made as part of the ‘National infrastructure plan’, which was published today by Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander.
The Transport Secretary’s comments followed publication on Monday 1 December of the ‘Road investment strategy’, which included 15 new schemes for the region worth around £1.5 billion, creating an estimated 1,000 construction jobs. Highlights include:
- dualling of the A428 to create a continuous ‘expressway’ from Cambridge to Bedford and Milton Keynes, helping some of our fastest-growing towns and cities to work together - new strategic study will look at the case for extending this expressway from Milton Keynes to Oxford
- investing over £300 million to transform the A47 around Peterborough, Norwich and Great Yarmouth; this includes dualling the road from Peterborough to the A1, upgrades around Norwich to create a 30 mile stretch of continuous dual carriageway and improvements to the Acle Straight and junctions around Norwich - this will tackle congestion and help share the benefits of growth in key cities
- begin phase 1 of a major upgrade to the A12, with the addition of a third lane between Chelmsford and Colchester, rebuilding of the A12/M25 junction and technology improvements along the whole route; this will replace a patchwork road with consistent modern standards, and will tackle congestion on one of the region’s vital corridors
- opening a new chapter in the history of the A1, with an upgrade to the 2-lane section of the A1(M) around Stevenage, and improvements to the notorious Black Cat roundabout on the A1 - a strategic study will examine the future of the A1 between Peterborough and the M25, including whether to upgrade the old dual carriageway section to motorway standard
- a link road from the A5 to the M1 near Dunstable, including a new junction 11A, which will allow for 7,000 new homes at Houghton Regis
- at Harlow on the M11, £50 million of extra improvements to junction 7 will make development easier and provide quicker access to and from the town