Norfolk’s blueprint for better railways has been published as MPs, councillors and business representatives from Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire gather in Westminster for the East Anglian Rail Summit called by Norwich North Conservative MP Chloe Smith.
The summit is the latest meeting in a series to spearhead a campaign for investment in railways that serve the region. Those invited have included train operating companies, Network Rail, rail users and Local Enterprise Partnerships, as well as the region's MPs and councillors.
“We have what many are calling a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to dramatically shape rail services,” said Graham Plant, Norfolk County Council Cabinet Member for Planning and Transportation.
“Our Norfolk prospectus will feed into Government decision-making over the next few months. Crucial decisions will be taken about the five-year spending programme (2014-19) on track infrastructure, and on reletting the franchises which decide which train companies will serve our county over the next few years.
“These decisions will shape the quality of train services for years to come. The Government says it is listening, and I believe it is. This prospectus delivers a clear message, based upon evidence, and supported right across the community, including MPs, businesses, other councils, and of course passengers. It is carefully thought through and realistic, and I am confident it will help the Government understand what Norfolk needs if railways are to take their rightful place in a 21st century transport system.”
Welcoming the publication of the Norfolk Rail Prospectus, Chloe Smith said The Rail Summit is to update the East Anglian Rail Prospectus campaign. It’s the latest in a series I have chaired, having led the East Anglian Rail Prospectus in Parliament.
“We have a once in a generation opportunity to get it right for the long term in the region's rail. We have achieved good progress so far through working together across all four counties; Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire speak with one voice for more reliable services, faster services, and better quality stock. That means jobs, because businesses will be able to grow with better infrastructure.
“The Norfolk prospectus helps make sure we have got Norfolk’s needs right, as part of the wider campaign. The Norwich to London line is a real priority for me and all travellers at all points of that line, because of the franchise process which is shortly to start.
“We are passionate that East Anglia and Norfolk get their fair share over the 20 years to come."
The cooperative working fostered at earlier meetings resulted in the production of the Greater Anglia Rail Prospectus. The Norfolk Rail Prospectus builds up this, adding detail on issues of particular importance to Norfolk rail users. It has been produced by Norfolk County Council with the assistance of MPs, businesses, railway representatives and New Anglia LEP.