Rail Investment for Norwich
Chancellor George Osborne visited Norfolk and Suffolk earlier this month, and gave business leaders some welcome signs that further investment in the region’s infrastructure could be sanctioned. He confirmed that a task force will be charged with making the case to the treasury for improvements to the Norwich-London train line, which would lead to faster journeys and better facilities on trains for commuters.
“I don’t want to make a promise I can’t deliver – but I promise you we are taking this deadly seriously now. This group is going to report to us on what we can do and that is the goal we set ourselves: to speed up the rail links, ” said Mr Osborne.
Research suggests that faster Norwich to London trains will boost East Anglia’s economy by £2.5bn. “East Anglia is one of the fastest growing regions in the country and is establishing itself as a world leader in science, technology and manufacturing. To support this growth we need to have modern, efficient rail services and improved connections,” added Mr Osborne.
“Good news for the East Anglian economy goes hand in hand with good news about jobs as businesses grow and recruit,” explained Big Sky Additions’ director Sam Holt. “Efficient train links should also encourage companies in the capital to work with our fantastic local businesses, many of whom are leaders in their field,” he added.
Norwich North MP Chloe Smith was one of the team of Norfolk MPs to support the “Norwich in 90” campaign to cut the Norwich-London journey time to 90 minutes: “It’s a great result for campaigners – I want to see the task force formed quickly to continue the work that has been done in the rail prospectus and deliver faster and more reliable services and better quality trains,” she said.
Mr Osborne also reminded local business people that the Great Eastern Mainline upgrade was just one of several infrastructure projects attracting investment in Norfolk and Suffolk, following the dualling of the A11, Norwich’s northern distributor road and the expansion of East Suffolk line services.
Work on the dualling of the A11 between Thetford and Barton Mills is slightly ahead of schedule and well on track for completion by the end of 2014. The swift work has also led to a reduction in the scheme’s expected cost. In 2009, the Government had expected to spend up to £150m on dualling the 9.1 mile stretch of road. That figure was slashed to £130m when plans were entered, £120m at the start of work and now sits at £102m. Once completed, the road is expected to deliver 20 times what it cost in benefits to the regional economy.