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Campaign launched to improve commuter routes in the East

Video report by ITV News Anglia's Hannah Pettifer

A campaign has been launched to improve one of the key commuter routes in the East of England, linking parts of Essex and Cambridge to London.

The West Anglia Taskforce want to see trains travel from London Liverpool Street to Cambridge in 60 minutes and Stansted in 40 minutes.

Campaigners say the line is 'neglected' and are calling for extra tracks.

It follows the start of Greater Anglia's nine year deal to run the franchise.

The West Anglia Taskforce includes organisations from the public and private sector. Credit: ITV News Anglia

The Taskforce, which was set up last year, is made up of businesses and organisations from the public and private sector. They all have an interest in seeing major improvements to the West Anglia main line, not only for commuters but also for economic growth.

Today the taskforce released a report detailing what it believes needs to be done:

  • Train journeys from London to Cambridge down to 60 minutes and Stansted in 40
  • Improving service levels to other communities along the route
  • A new timetable by 2020
  • Doubling the number of tracks from 2 to 4 at the London end of the line
  • Progressing Crossrail 2 plans
The Taskforce want quicker train journeys from parts of Essex and Cambridge to London. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Rail Minister Paul Maynard, who was at the launch of the report, admitted passenger numbers had outpaced investment.

Despite running through a vital economic part of the country, he said the line hadn't changed since Victorian times.

"This is an economically growing part of the country, the population is growing rapidly, the number of people commuting in and out of London is growing rapidly, but more importantly the number of people using trains to commute locally is growing as well.

"The network can only take so many trains at any one moment and when we reach capacity we have to start looking at what else can be done and this report does that."

– Paul Maynard MP, Rail Minister
Rail Minister Paul Maynard admitted passenger numbers had outpaced investment. Credit: ITV News Anglia

Greater Anglia has promised to replace all trains as new by 2020, but says the infrastructure now needs to follow.

"To fully realise the potential of that new fleet and the route with Stansted continuing to develop, lots of housing along the corridor, more growth in Cambridge, to really accommodate that and go the next stage we need the investment in the infrastructure."

– Jonathan Denby, Greater Anglia

A conservative estimate of the size of that investment is £2-4 billion.

Convincing the government to invest though will be a job further down the line.