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Call for upgrade on Norwich-London line

PUBLISHED: 12:37 28 July 2009 | UPDATED: 14:31 03 July 2010

IMPROVEMENTS on the main Norwich to London railway line must be high on the list of criteria should the region's rail franchise be put out to tender in the near future.

IMPROVEMENTS on the main Norwich to London railway line must be high on the list of criteria should the region's rail franchise be put out to tender in the near future.

That is the message from MPs and business leaders, who are keen that the Department for Transport considers more than simply the size of any bid, if and when the government starts a search for a new operator.

The likelihood of National Express retaining a role within the East Anglian rail network has lessened significantly over the past few weeks. First, the government announced it was considering stripping the company of its rail operations after National Express warned it was likely to walk away from its East Coast franchise. That was followed by news that the company - which has huge debts - is the subject of takeover interest, and is likely to be sold and possibly broken up.

Should the east of England franchise subsequently be put out for tender, the government is free to attach any conditions to the bidding process that it sees fit.

Charles Clarke, MP for Norwich South, said a faster Norwich to London service was important, with the journey time needing to be cut to nearer an hour and 35 minutes, as well as wifi access for commuters who wanted to work during their journeys.

He added: “The Norwich to Cambridge line is also exceptionally important from a regional point of view, and we need a frequent service on that route.”

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