After months of campaigning, involving support from thousands of rail passengers, businesses, local authorities, MPs and education leaders across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex, the Great Eastern MainIpswich station Line Report has been submitted to Government.
Heralded as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” the report calls on the Chancellor to invest millions of pounds and bring a “massive vote of confidence to the region.” It details the key improvements needed to bring better, faster trains and deliver a journey time of “Norwich in 90 minutes.” And a robust economic case explaining why the improvements are vital to the region.
It also includes a letter signed by more than 100 of the most senior business and education leaders in the region, representing over 111,000 employees and students. Over 1600 rail passengers have also joined the online campaign.
Mark Pendlington, Chairman of New Anglia LEP, with Norfolk campaign supporters – left to right – Caroline Williams, Chief Executive of the Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, Stuart Wright, Aviva, and Angela Robson, deputy vice chancellor, Norwich University of the Arts.
The key highlights of the report include:
- a call for £476million investment to improve infrastructure
- which will deliver up to £4.5bn wider economic benefits
- unlocking an additional £1.3bn in capital investment along the route.
- with journey time savings of £9m per year
It also asks Government for new rolling stock to be included in the new rail franchise tender to be announced in 2015.
The report identifies the Great Eastern Main Line as the “golden thread running through our economy”. It states: “Modern economies need high-quality rail infrastructure to support and sustain growth and to help businesses compete and win in global markets. The Great Eastern Main Line is no exception. We need the rail service to serve our ambitions not to stifle them.”
In a letter to the Chancellor accompanying the report, Mark Pendlington, chair of New Anglia LEP and Chloe Smith MP, both joint chairs of the Great Eastern Main Line Rail Taskforce make a plea on behalf of East Anglia:
“Your decision for this Autumn Statement is simple: We ask you to confirm the infrastructure improvements needed to unlock the economic potential of the region through faster more reliable services; and provide for new rolling stock on the Great Eastern Main Line for better journeys.
“Over the next decade our region will experience considerable housing, employment and economic growth leading to some of the fastest rates of passenger growth in the country. Our economy, built on the success of innovative and dynamic businesses is also growing and carries even more potential.
“We could be the California of Europe, yet we have some of the oldest trains in Britain. Our rail service is over-crowded, the infrastructure not resilient to failures. It is as quick to go 225 miles over land and sea from London to Brussels as it is on the train to Norwich, over half the distance. We can’t go on like this.”
Ben Gummer MP for Ipswich and member of the Rail Taskforce said: “This is an important day for East Anglia. This is a signal of our determination to see investment in our transport infrastructure so that we can realise our economic potential and create the jobs and prosperity that is within our reach.”
Simon Burns, MP for Chelmsford and member of the Rail Taskforce said: “It is imperative, given the dynamism and potential East of England economy that the transport infrastructure and connectivity is improved so as to realise the full potential of Essex and the East of England. The work and recommendations of the Taskforce set up by the Chancellor of the Exchequer is a crucial step in getting improvements to the road and rail network of East Anglia.
The latest report of the Taskforce is an important step forward in working with the Treasury to get more transport infrastructure investment for the region.”
David Burch, representing Essex Chambers of Commerce on the Taskforce said “Essex Chambers of Commerce, along with Norfolk and Suffolk Chambers, have been supporting this campaign and the work of the Taskforce as it is essential for the future growth of businesses in the region that we get, at long last, a rail link to London that is fit for the 21st century.
“The Great Eastern Main Line corridor in Essex is home to two universities and many outstanding businesses. With the investment the Taskforce are asking for we will see real opportunities to create new jobs and opportunities for the future prosperity of the region as a whole.”
The publication of the report will mark the beginning of a month of meetings and events leading up to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.
Taskforce schedule of events:GEML Business Case
- Monday November 10 – Meeting with Patrick McLoughlin MP, Secretary of State for Transport to discuss the Report & business case for improvements works
- Friday 14 November – 2014 Suffolk Rail Conference. Key stakeholders from the region will present to the conference regarding the work of the Taskforce and wider rail issues
- Tuesday 18 November – Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin MP, will address a meeting organised by the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce and New Anglia LEP on the work of the Taskforce
- Friday 28 November – Chloe Smith MP will host the final regional stakeholder meeting with the Taskforce to discuss the final stages of the Taskforce work
- Wednesday 3 December – Chancellor to deliver Autumn Statement