Sir Alan Haselhurst calls for more track to boost rail

Abellio Greater Anglia train

Abellio Greater Anglia train - Credit: Archant

Commuters from Essex should see major improvements to their services into London over the next few years whether they travel from stations on the Great Eastern or West Anglia route.

Yesterday’s (Wednesday, September 7) East Anglian Rail Summit at Westminster was the first chance politicians and business leaders had to meet rail industry chiefs since Abellio Greater Anglia was awarded a new long-term franchise for the region last month.

The key feature of the £5billion-plus deal is all new trains for every route in East Anglia.

That means new suburban trains will be introduced on services to Braintree, Chelmsford, Witham, Bishops Stortford and Stansted Airport.

However the rail summit heard more needed to be done by Network Rail to improve the track and overhead wire infrastructure.

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Sir Alan Haselhurst, MP for Dunmow, said it was important to get four tracks built at the southern end of the West Anglia route to ease rail congestion for trains from West Essex and Hertfordshire into London.

And as well as an extra track on the Great Eastern Main Line between Witham and Chelmsford, the new document from the region’s rail task force also called for a new loop on the branch line between Witham and Braintree stations to allow more trains to use the route, which is currently a single track line.

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A new station is planned for Beaulieu Park on the outskirts of Chelmsford and an extra 55,000 peak-time seats have been pledged for services in and out of Liverpool Street.

Abellio Greater Anglia chief executive Jamie Burles told the conference the franchise decision could not have been reached without the support of the campaign that was set up three years ago.

He said: “Nowhere has there been such a concerted campaign for rail improvements and no other franchise award in this country has seen such an ambitious proposal for the total replacement of all the trains.

“We could not have done this without you.”

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