Greater Anglia outlines demands for rail improvements

Ruud Haket, managing director of Greater Anglia.

Ruud Haket, managing director of Greater Anglia. - Credit: Archant

RAIL operator Greater Anglia has added its voice for calls for extra tracks to be added to lines in Essex to speed up the main line to London.

It has responded to the five-year plan put forward by Network Rail outlining what investment it sees as necessary on the region’s rail lines.

The plan has to be accepted by the government’s Office of Rail Regulation before it can be implemented and get funding from the Department for Transport.

Network Rail has proposed spending £1.4 billion upgrading the Great Eastern Main Line as part of a £2.2bn investment in the whole region – but does not propose building any extra lines to the north of Chelmsford before 2019.

Greater Anglia said it wanted to see additional, tangible progress made on the Great Eastern line before 2019.

The company has played a major role in developing the East Anglian Rail Prospectus, published last year, and helping to create a broad alliance of stakeholders to support the aspirations it outlines.

Ruud Haket, managing director at Greater Anglia, said: “At Greater Anglia we are passionate about delivering a better and continuously improving rail service for East Anglia.

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“We are already doing what we can in the short term to upgrade services, but this is a vital chance for us all to try and secure the additional infrastructure enhancements on the GEML and West Anglia routes we all wish to see, sooner rather than later – to the benefit of customers, communities and the economy across our region.

“We will be responding to the ORR’s consultation and proposing that a commitment to the delivery of these key improvements by 2019 is included in the final approved Strategic Business Plan agreed by the ORR later in 2013.”

The company’s move was welcomed by Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, who has been helping to lead calls by East Anglian parliamentarians for a boost to the service.

He said: “This is a valuable contribution from Greater Anglia, which demonstrates once again that we are all aiming for the same goal – as outlined in our prospectus published last year.

“We are making progress and the contribution of the current operator can only help.”

The news follows Saffron Walden MP Sir Alan Haselhurst’s call for a more innovative approach to funding rail improvements.

He exclusively told the Reporter last week he believed local authorities such as Uttlesford District Council, East Herts and South Cambs should look into the possibility of stumping up cash along with the new owners of Stansted Airport, Manchester Airports Group (MAG) to improve rail infrastructure between Audley End and London Liverpool Street.

Funding has been secured for a third track to be added between Tottenham Hale and Angel Road – a move designed to speed up journeys to Stansted Airport and prevent overcrowding at London Liverpool Street – after the London Borough of Enfield agreed a £29million investment.