Proper transport links are vital to our prosperity. In order to develop our local economy and promote local businesses and opportunities for the next generation, we need to be connected to the rest of the world. Having secured the dualling of the A11 and North Tuddenham-Easton stretch of the A47 (with early works having now begun, and full works due to commence in 2022), upgraded rail links are the next step on that journey.
That’s why I have launched a campaign for ‘The Innovation Express’ between Norwich and Cambridge. Despite being only 50 miles apart, travelling between the two places is difficult and takes too long. By linking them better together with a half-hourly, much improved service with first class Wifi, we can unlock a world class “innovation corridor” linking Cambridge with Ely, Brandon, Thetford, Attleborough, Wymondham and Norwich, to the benefit of the local communities, local business and the regional economy.
This ‘Innovation Express’ has the potential to help drive growth and prosperity in our region for the next generation, playing a key role as Norfolk leads the Green Revolution that the UK must embrace if it is to become the ‘Science Superpower’ it can and should be. I was proud therefore to announce, during my time as Minister of State for the Future of Transport, that the East-West Rail project I had long lobbied for would eventually be extended beyond Cambridge – out east to Norwich and Ipswich.
Earlier this year, with the campaign for improvements at Ely North Junction and Trowse Bridge continuing to push on, I was delighted to add renew energy to the efforts to improve the Norwich-Cambridge Railway by co-ordinating a joint-letter with the 15 Conservative MPs for Norfolk and Suffolk to the Secretary of State for Transport to highlight how improved rail links between Norwich-Cambridge and Ipswich-Cambridge is crucial to creating a ‘Golden Triangle of Growth’ – helping us to significantly “Level-Up”, “Build Back Better” and generate the growth and prosperity in the East that will boost UK plc.
I welcomed shortly thereafter the chance to chair a meeting with the Secretary of State for Transport and the Rail Minister, along with our collective group of MPs and key local stakeholders like Greater Anglia, the Norfolk Chambers and the NRP, at which we re-emphasised the importance of the East. Although there is a very long way to go, the Secretary of State and Rail Minister welcomed our conversation and committed to working with us to explore what might be possible in the form of innovative funding models and in terms of project prioritisation to unlock progress as quickly and efficiently as possible. Rest assured, I remain firmly committed to pursuing this in the months ahead.
For updates on my work on this project, please do regularly check this page.
For decades, successive governments have underfunded our transport network here in the East – which is why one of my central missions as an MP has been the improvement of our transport infrastructure in this region, and why I so greatly welcome the Prime Minister and Government’s commitment to “levelling-up” the places that have for too long been “left-behind”.
Fast modern rail is crucial to modern economies around the world. Here in the East, people are sitting in cars and trains going nowhere fast in an area that has a lot more to offer – and where we should be generating more of our own economic growth and prosperity.