Greater Anglia fran­chise

Rail (UK) - - Network News - Richard Clin­nick As­sis­tant Ed­i­tor richard.clin­nick@bauer­me­dia.co.uk

CAM­PAIGN­ERS seek­ing im­prove­ments on the Great Eastern Main Line have pledged they will not re­lent in their ef­forts, de­spite the new fran­chise awarded to Abel­lio con­tain­ing more than 1,000 new ve­hi­cles with more than £1 bil­lion be­ing spent ( RAIL 807).

Trains are promised to run be­tween Nor­wich and Lon­don in 90 min­utes, which is a long-term am­bi­tion of the Great Eastern Main Line Task­force. How­ever, firm de­tails have yet to be an­nounced re­gard­ing the in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments on the GEML that will en­able more trains to op­er­ate.

GEML Task­force co-Chair­man Mark Pendling­ton told RAIL on Au­gust 22 that he ex­pects Net­work Rail to make the re­quired in­vest­ment of around £475 mil­lion. “Po­lit­i­cally there needs to be the will, and I be­lieve they will do so,” he said.

While he ac­knowl­edged the de­lays ex­pe­ri­enced on other ma­jor projects across Bri­tain, he said he be­lieved that NR would do its best to de­liver the re­quired im­prove­ments in East Anglia. The Task­force will meet with NR on Septem­ber 7 to dis­cuss what work is needed and how it will be funded.

Pendling­ton high­lighted that as part of the lo­cal de­vo­lu­tion un­der way in the re­gion, the group is also cham­pi­oning the need to move the up­grade of Ely North Junc­tion from Con­trol Pe­riod 6 (April 1 2019March 31 2024) to the cur­rent CP5.

The Task­force is also look­ing be­yond the GEML as part of its con­tin­ued sup­port for the re­gion’s growth us­ing rail. Pendling­ton high­lighted that the GEML up­grade could be worth £43bn to the re­gion, and £14bn alone to Nor­folk and Suf­folk.

“We have solved the North/ South is­sues. We have been the back­wa­ter, but no longer,” he said, adding that ef­forts would also now be fo­cused on im­prov­ing con­nec­tiv­ity on the East/West route, in­clud­ing trains to and from Peter­bor­ough and the con­nec­tiv­ity to the North, as well as plans to

con­nect Cam­bridge with Mil­ton Keynes and Ox­ford.

Air­port con­nec­tiv­ity was also vi­tal in the fu­ture. “We have three ma­jor air­ports be­ing served at Stansted, Nor­wich and Southend. The mes­sage is that the re­gion is open,” he said. @Clin­nick1

RICHARD CLIN­NICK.

Class 379 Elec­trostars in­tro­duced in 2011 for the Stansted Ex­press and West Anglia routes will be re­placed in 2019. On Fe­bru­ary 14 2013, 379014 (left) and 379008 stand at Lon­don Liver­pool Street with trains for Stansted.

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