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Ipswich's problems raised with transport secretary Chris Grayling

PUBLISHED: 05:30 09 April 2019 | UPDATED: 12:16 09 April 2019

Ipswich Conservative candidate Tom Hunt met transport secretary Chris Grayling in Westminster. Picture: TOM HUNT

Ipswich Conservative candidate Tom Hunt met transport secretary Chris Grayling in Westminster. Picture: TOM HUNT

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Ipswich Conservative candidate Tom Hunt has met transport secretary Chris Grayling in a bid to persuade him to back road and rail improvements for the town.

Mr Hunt’s visit to Westminster came just days after rail minister Andrew Jones visited the town to hail the start of the new “Ipswich in 60” services between the town and London next month.

He presented findings of a transport survey showing that 83% of respondents from Ipswich backed a new northern bypass for the town.

Mr Hunt also asked Mr Grayling to take action to prevent closures to the Orwell Bridge.

And he asked for more investment to ensure there was investment in the main line to London – five and a half years after it was promised during talks between former MP Ben Gummer and then-chancellor George Osborne.

Network Rail is still looking at plans to upgrade the line that were first raised in a rail summit in November 2013. They are not included in their current five-year maintenance plan that has just started.

To make Ipswich in 60 the norm for trains to the capital, new track would have to be laid between Chelmsford and Witham in Essex and to improve cross-country links junctions at Haughley, near Stowmarket, and Ely have to be improved.

Government-owned Network Rail have still made no commitment to carry out this work despite years of discussion.

Mr Hunt said: “I made it very clear to the secretary of state quite how strong and widespread support for a northern bypass is across the town.

“When I raised the closures of the Orwell Bridge the secretary of state said he was aware of the Highways England investigation into the matter and that he is keen to ensure that action is taken the moment this investigation is completed.

“It’s good news that the Ipswich in 60 service will be introduced shortly but its clear that if this is going to benefit Ipswich in a big way then the service needs to be frequent and it needs to operate at peak times. For this to happen a number of key improvements are needed to rail infrastructure.”

“The reality is that all of these issues should have been sorted out many years ago. There has been a lack of investment in rail infrastructure in East Anglia across a number of decades. Under both Labour and Conservative governments. This needs to change.”

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