1. ITV Report

Fresh call for rail investment in the East


Another day another call from MPs in the East for more investment in rail in the region. On Monday East Anglian MPs launched their prospectus for rail services in the East.

Its a document detailing the key rail projects in our region that MPs say will mean rail services in the region are more frequent, more reliable and faster.

On Tuesday they got a chance to put their demands to Transport Minister Theresa Villiers.

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey described rail services in the East as a Cinderella service, calling on the Government to be Prince Charming and let East Anglian passengers travel happily ever after.

And yesterday MPs met the Transport Secretary Justine Greening to hand over their prospectus and once again press the case for more investment in the East.

They say rail infrastructure in our region has been underfunded for decades and they want their fair share.

Its the first time MPs across the four counties of Norfolk , Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire have agreed on what the priorities for rail funding should be and it seems that speaking with a united voice has got the attention of the Government.

Amongst the list of priorities in the East Anglia Rail prospectus are improvements to the junction north of Ely station .

South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss and Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman say this will make a huge difference to the frequency of trains between Norwich and Cambridge and Kings Lynn to Cambridge , allowing half hourly rather than hourly services . They believe its crucial to boost the economy in Norfolk.

MPs also want to see an improvement in the service on the Norwich to Liverpool Street line. One of their priorities is for money to be spend remodelling the Bow junction which would allow more capacity at Liverpool Street.

Witham MP Priti Patel says statistics show that in her Essex constituency more than 2 million commuter journeys are made each year. She believes more funding for infrastructure is crucial to cope with the growing demand for services from Essex into the capital.

The MPs also want better rolling stock , arguing the current trains are not up to date enough for commuters who want to work during the journey.

Its not just MPs who want the improvements, the East Anglia Rail Prospectus is agreed by 28 councils in our region plus 21 rail users groups, as well as the Chambers of Commerce in all 4 counties and the Local Enterprise Partnerships.

They say the East of England has the potential to provide even more wealth and prosperity to the UK , but as one of the fastest growing parts of the UK and with busy roads, rail investment is the key to unlocking this potential.

The timing is crucial , in the next two weeks the Transport secretary will announce which rail schemes will get the green light over the next funding period, up to 2019. It is highly likely that some of the demands of East MPs will be on that list. I understand the Ely North junction upgrade will get the go ahead.

So there is likely to be some good news for rail passengers in our region but its unlikely all the demands will be met, it might not be a fairy tale ending but MPs believe this is a once in a generation chance to get fairer funding for rail in the East.