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Improved rail could net extra £3.7bn

PUBLISHED: 10:17 01 June 2010 | UPDATED: 09:45 01 August 2010

A BETTER train service between Norwich and London could net an extra £3.7bn for businesses and commuters in East Anglia, a report has concluded.

The study by the East of England Development Agency said improved travel times, new trains, improvements to rural services and wi-fi access would all lead to a massive boost to the region's economy over the next 60 years.

A BETTER train service between Norwich and London could net an extra £3.7bn for businesses and commuters in East Anglia, a report has concluded.

The study by the East of England Development Agency said improved travel times, new trains, improvements to rural services and wi-fi access would all lead to a massive boost to the region's economy over the next 60 years.

Campaigners fighting for improvements on the Great Eastern Main Line said they hoped the study would demonstrate how important a better service would be for the whole of East Anglia.

Mike Salter, head of transport planning at EEDA, said: “It is fantastic that this study shows we can achieve such a great economic prize, which would benefit many businesses and passengers across the East of England.

“The vision and aims we have worked with partners to devise now has solid economic evidence behind it to help plan investment at the right time and place with the appropriate resources.

“We demonstrated how much the constraints on the Great Eastern Main Line were costing businesses and the economy in our ground-breaking transport study in 2008. It showed that it is a major economic artery.

“Now we have taken that one step further with our partners to investigate what benefits could be gained from making big improvements, and we now need to keep working with the rail industry on how to deliver these.

“This is a long-term vision for the line and it requires long-term commitment and investment from partners in the East of England and the government.

“It is absolutely essential that if we want to help our businesses become even more competitive, we have to invest in the transport schemes that will deliver the best returns to the economy.”

The Economic Case for Investment on the Great Eastern Main Line was commissioned from transport consultants Atkins by EEDA, working with a range of partners, including Regional Cities East, Shaping Norfolk's Future, the Haven Gateway Partnership, Norfolk County Council, Suffolk County Council and Norwich City Council.

Chris Starkie, chief executive of Shaping Norfolk's Future, outlined the initial findings of the report in the EDP last month and said the research showed how vital improvements were.

He said: “This research shows that improvements to the Great Eastern Main Line will bring enormous economic benefits to the region. Now we want to see this vision start to become reality with the introduction of new, faster and more reliable trains as part of the new Greater Anglia rail franchise.”

Andrew Chivers, managing director, National Express East Anglia said: “National Express East Anglia welcomes the EEDA report. It clearly highlights the major regional benefits which would result from a substantial upgrade for the Norwich - Ipswich - Colchester - London route.”

The study comes as a campaign and petition continues to call for faster, more reliable rail services to be built into the new Greater Anglia rail franchise, which is due to be taken over by a new operator next year.

The Norwich in Ninety campaign is backed by business and council leaders and wants across the board improvements, but with special focus on the flagship Inter-City service between Norwich and London Liverpool Street.

An online petition can be signed at www.gopetition.com/petitions/norwich-in-ninety.html

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