When first elected in 2009, Chloe decided that rail was one of the things she would focus on. First, she brought together four counties comprising of 40 MPs and all the relevant local councils to sign up to a common East Anglian Rail Prospectus. The impact of this made Westminster sit up and take notice of East Anglia: as a result of Chloe’s work, the Chancellor agreed to £500m of improvement works and new carriages for the line; he endorsed the recommendations and agreed to all the asks in the report. These requests could bring 8,000 more jobs to Norwich. The campaign is already backed by thousands of passengers in Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. and the Chancellor then asked her to lead the work that culminated in the Taskforce Report about the Norwich-London mainline.
Chloe co-chairs the Great Eastern Rail Mainline Taskforce with Mark Pendlington, Chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, and has successfully campaigned for ‘Norwich in Ninety’. Chloe had led nearly 40 colleagues from four eastern counties to produce the East Anglian Rail Prospectus which has seen success so far in improvements at Ely and elsewhere.
In November 2014 the Great Eastern Rail Report was handed to Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin and Chancellor George Osborne outlining the strong economic and business case for investment. The Report called for:
Investment of £476m in the main line including infrastructure improvement
New rolling stock to be included in the new franchise tender
Achieve London to Chelmsford in 25 minutes, Colchester in 40 minutes, Ipswich in 60 minutes, Norwich in 90 minutes
In return the investment will deliver:
£4.5bn economic benefits
£1.3bn of capital investment along the line
Journey time savings of £9m annually
48,000 jobs along the line and over 3,000 full-time construction jobs
£9.50 return for every £1 invested
The Great Eastern Rail Report can be found here and its backing detail shows clearly how these improvements can bring 8,200 jobs to Norwich.
How will these improvements be delivered?
The track works are done in the Network Rail works programme between now and 2024, and the new carriages come in as part of the next franchise deal from 2016.
Chloe is keeping Network Rail under pressure to improve the railway tracks, and making sure that the next operating company provides new trains. Together those investments give Norwich a faster and more reliable service.
In August 2016 the new rail franchise was announced, which saw news that Abellio East Anglia will run the franchise from October 2016, delivering faster and more frequent journeys along the route with a £1.4 billion investment in services that will bring 1,04 new carriages supplied by British train manufacturer, Bombadier. The new Norwich in Ninety service will run between Norwich and London at least twice each weekday, with journey times being cut by an average of 10% across the region.
Other improvements to the franchise will see free Wi-Fi for all passengers on trains and at stations and new ticket initiatives for passengers who travel regularly but don‘t benefit from season ticket discounts.