Suffolk: Minister’s pledge as rail task force to start work

Graham Newman of Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Therese Coffey, transport minister Stephen Hammond, Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley, and Mark Pendlington from New Anglia LEP at the Suffolk rail conference. Graham Newman of Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Coastal MP Dr Therese Coffey, transport minister Stephen Hammond, Ipswich MP Ben Gummer, Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley, and Mark Pendlington from New Anglia LEP at the Suffolk rail conference.

Friday, December 13, 2013
5:54 PM

Ministers at the Transport Department are now well aware of the problems on the main rail line from London to East Anglia – and are determined to see services improve.

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That was the message brought by transport minister Stephen Hammond to the second Suffolk rail conference held at Endeavour House in Ipswich.

Mr Hammond said the first meeting of the task force set up by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to look at improving the Great Eastern main line from Norwich and Ipswich to London would meet on Tuesday.

It would be led by MPs Ben Gummer and Chloe Smith – with representatives from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership also taking a key role.

The task force is aiming to draw up a list of improvements to speed up services – allowing most trains to reach Ipswich from London in 60 minutes and Norwich in 90 minutes without cutting out stops at Colchester and Manningtree.

Mr Hammond said: “We are well aware of the need to improve the services to this region, and that will require considerable investment.”

He said the new passenger franchise would start in 2016 – and its conditions would be closely linked in with the needs of the passengers.

“The rail industry has been a success story, but we must look hard at the challenges that success poses – and come up with ways to improve services across the country, including this region.”

Mr Gummer also spoke at the meeting, saying the region should have a first-class rail service because it was helping to bring the country out of recession.

He repeated his claim that with the right investment, and the new industries growing around Ipswich, Norwich and Cambridge that East Anglia could become “The California of Europe.”

However he warned: “When that happens, we must not be held back by a rail network that has not had the investment that it needs over many decades.”

The conference was also addressed by rail specialist and author Christian Wolmar, who said that the doubling in passenger numbers over the last 20 years meant there was a need for major investment in the region.

He produced figures showing that 735 million passenger journeys in 1994/95 had grown to 1.5 billion passenger journeys across the rail network in 2012/13.

The number of passengers using Suffolk stations has grown even more during that time.

“This has been a time of success for the rail industry, but it requires sustained investment and long-term decisions to be made,” he added.

3 comments

  • Not more talk! 50% reduction in fares now! Fairs Fare.

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    trevorwoolnough

    Saturday, December 14, 2013

  • All very good and nice words !, but as usual, 'Actions speak louder than words' !!

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    freedomf

    Friday, December 13, 2013

  • An awful lot of waffle, contradiction and vote seeking here! HS2 is being fought against elsewhere and a major argument is the fact it "only knocks 20 minutes off the journey time London to Birmingham". Yet here there is considerable hot air over knocking next to nothing off the fastest journey times now possible. The 5 o clock from London takes 59 minutes to Ipswich now, and 100 minutes to Norwich (it used to be 95 minutes but GA were worried about being fined for being late). That is possible with ALL the services, BUT you have to reduce stops, space trains farther apart probably by reduction and have greater reliability. I can't see the residents of Essex agreeing to less and slower trains to allow residents of Suffolk and Norfolk to whizz through can you? So the only real solutions are long stretches of extra track and more modern high intensity multiple unit trains. Then the complaints start about the demise of the Inter City type trains! The cost will be astronomical and will never happen because of the phenominal cost of running a fragmented privatised network, groaning under the pressures of more traffic NOT from successful initiatives but because with more congested roads and the price of petrol, the alternatives to rail are becoming a nightmare.

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    Disbeliever

    Friday, December 13, 2013

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