George Freeman resounds his call for a bolder approach to improve rail services in East Anglia
27th September 2012
For the last 5 years, most people travelling between London and Norwich at weekends have had to take the bus due to engineering works on the Great Eastern rail line. This is why I and the hundreds of thousands of passengers who have had to live with the disruption associated with neglected rail infrastructure in East Anglia welcome the news that Network Rail and Greater Anglia have agreed to reduce the amount of disruptive engineering work. For the first time in years trains will run over the Christmas period with a the number of weekends running a bus replacement service decreasing from the current 30 to only 7 weekends in 2013. This shows what can be done by closer co-operation between Track and Train operators.
But if we are really going to sort out the chaotic structure of our railways, and unlock the investment necessary to enable East Anglia to prosper, we may need to be bolder. The Government's longer term franchises with closer partnership between Network Rail and ToCs, along with recent announcements of major investment, are great news. But we won’t rebalance the economy without massive investment in new rail infrastructure. That's why I continue to make the case for an East Anglian Railway Company controlling both track and trains, with the ability to raise additional private investment to improve our network. We will never build a 21st century economy on 19th century infrastructure, so why don’t we use this new focus on infrastructure as a springboard to create new models of investment starting with bold new leadership in rail infrastructure and an East Anglian Regional Rail Company?
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