This month some new figures were published showing how important rail is in Norwich North. I wanted to take this opportunity to write about the work I have been doing on behalf of constituents in this important area.
The Railway Delivery Group’s updated statistics now show that rail provides over 550 jobs for Norwich North and provides a total tax contribution of £9million.
Throughout my time as an MP, I have been consistently leading the campaign for strategic investment in the East Anglian railway network over the long term. There is still a powerful case to be made for better rail links- especially between our key science and technology clusters in Norwich, Cambridge, and Ipswich; as well as a faster journey time to London. From these, East Anglia can gain substantial economic growth.
People in Norwich have told me they need a reliable, faster service. For those people who already use the train to get to work, the service has to be reliable so they can guarantee to get there and get home to their families again. For those who want work or different opportunities, faster and reliable rail will show that Norwich is a place to be, and allow for more investment here including jobs.
My work has shown that if we get the service between Norwich and London reliably down to only ninety minutes, 8,000 jobs could come to Norwich.
So to achieve that, I've used my role as a constituency MP to lead the 'Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce', a cross-party and multi-agency alliance of MPs, County Councils, Local Enterprise Partnerships, Local Authorities, businesses and rail user groups across East Anglia, which has drawn up the case and methods of how we can have this investment. Here's what we did: https://newanglia.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Great-Eastern-Main-Line-Report-November-2014.pdf
We've already got major wins for passengers, with all the carriages on our Norwich-London line now upgraded. That means passengers are already getting a better journey. But there's more to come: the really big win is that we will have brand new carriages from next year. That's the first crucial step to the trains going faster and more reliably. The government recognised that we needed it, and answered our call on behalf of passengers and the regional economy. I'm incredibly proud to have secured £1.4bn of investment for my constituents.
There's more to do, particularly to improve the tracks and infrastructure that the trains run on. We continue to press the Department for Transport and Network Rail to do what our area needs. This will take time - you can't lay railway sleepers overnight - so we've always been straight with people that this is a long-term project.
And the figures I referred to at the start are a great reminder of why this matters. Rail already provides over 500 jobs in Norwich and indirectly affects many more. So, improving our rail service makes a real difference because it's about people's jobs and livelihoods. I will continue to work on this as it's so important for our city, and I'll keep you updated on the taskforce’s progress.