�35bn investment in railways

Network Rail is embarking on a �35billion spending programme targeted at building a bigger and better railway for the UK. Of this, more than �1billion will be spent in the Anglia region alone.

Network Rail is embarking on a �35billion spending programme targeted at building a bigger and better railway for the UK.

Of this, more than �1billion will be spent in the Anglia region alone.

The ambitious five-year rail industry blueprint for investment includes plans for over 500 schemes and projects aimed at providing extra capacity or capability for passengers and freight customers, with more seats, more trains, longer trains and faster trains.

Key projects in Anglia over the next five years include �1billion to renew track, signalling, bridges and telecoms systems, and �125m to renew and upgrade overhead power lines on the Great Eastern Main Line between Liverpool Street and Chelmsford and Southend.

Platform extensions to allow longer 12-carriage trains from Liverpool Street to Stansted Airport and Cambridge are planned, with a new island platform at Cambridge costing �30.7m. There will also be platform extensions to allow 12-car trains from Fenchurch Street to Shewburyness via Tilbury.

A long-awaited passing loop at Beccles will be a boon for passengers travelling from Lowestoft to Ipswich, and on to London, enabling hourly services. .

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The investment programme was welcomed by Chris Starkie, chief executive of Shaping Norfolk's Future - one of the key players in the local campaign urging the government to end Norfolk's third class rail service

He said: “We are obviously pleased that Network Rail is going to spend a large amount of money improving the infrastructure on the Norwich to London line which, given its age, the money certainly needs to be spent.

“What we are concerned about is the lack of ambition for the line because we can't see anything in the plans which will allow faster trains from Norwich to London and more frequent services.”

Mr Starkie said the planned improvements at Cambridge will benefit travellers from King's Lynn, NorthWalsham and other areas.

Essential upgrades are being made to the railway in the Stratford area over the Easter weekend to increase reliability and performance for passengers on the mainline out of London Liverpool Street. National Express East Anglia will be operating replacement bus and coach services from Ingatestone to Liverpool Street and from Romford to Newbury Park.

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