Greater Anglia franchise
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
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.