East Anglia: Rail Improvements

8 January 2013, 11:07 | Updated: 8 January 2013, 11:17

Network Rail has announced £2.2 billion worth of improvements to train services in East Anglia.

The investment in the East is part of a national £37.5 billion scheme to improve railways across the country by 2019.

It is the biggest investment in the country's railways since the Victorian era.

Improvement schemes in and around Cambridgeshire include:

  • Extra seats on peak time trains between Cambridge and London.
  • More trains and destinations for passengers from Cambridge via the Thameslink programme through central London.
  • Improvements to the East Coast main line from King's Cross to Peterborough, including new platforms at Peterborough to increase capacity and reduce congestion.
  • A flyover at Hitchin to carry trains from London to Cambridge, reducing congestion on the line.
  • The re-opening of Soham station, and a new station at Cambridge Science Park.
  • New infrastructure to separate freight and passenger traffic to avoid congestion at Peterborough and Ely.
  • A second track from Ely to Soham.

However despite the big investment plans, Network Rail envisages no overall improvement in train punctuality compared with the trains-on-time target for 2009-2014.

A figure of 92.5% punctuality was set for the period 2009-2014 - a target which Network Rail has failed to meet.

And chief executive Sir David Higgins added, that the industry, under pressure to cut costs, had entered "the era of trade-offs''.

He went on: "Increasingly we have to balance the need to build more infrastructure, run trains on time and cut costs, and in many areas choices will need to be made.''

Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) Chief Executive Richard Price said: "Ministers have shown huge faith in what the railways can add to Britain's society and economy, committing to around £20 billion-worth of public money at a time when there is little money to go around.

Key to maintaining rail's success will be openly justifying this significant commitment of public money. Taxpayers significantly fund the railways, and have every right see where this money is being spent.''

He added that the plan "demonstrates the company's ambition to deliver an even better railway for Britain''.

Mr Price continued: "ORR will now scrutinise the plan on behalf of rail users and taxpayers to ensure every penny is made to count and that all those involved in delivering the plan work together to achieve the highest levels of efficiency and best possible value for money.

Our analysis, informed by public views, will focus on ensuring NR delivers the right plans, in the right ways, at the right cost.''