On Monday 24th October, Jo Churchill MP delivered the keynote speech of the Suffolk Rail Conference hosted by, Suffolk County Council at The Legends Suite, of Ipswich Town Football Club. The event, which ran through till lunchtime, hosted speakers including Jane Cornthwaite of the Department of Transport, Mark Pendlington, Chairman of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), Jamie Burles, Managing Director of Greater Anglia and Chris Rowley, Network Rail’s Principal Strategic Planner for London and South East. The conference was held following the launch of the East Anglia Rail Franchise on Monday 17th October and brought together relevant parties and stakeholders to consider what collaborative work going forward is necessary, to deliver the infrastructure required to meet the needs of the new franchise.
As the keynote speaker, Jo Churchill welcomed the new franchise and the benefits it will deliver to passengers and personnel including 32,000 more peak journey seats into and out of London and 1,144 more weekday trains across the region; overall a13% increase in service.
Looking forward, Mrs Churchill considered how improvements to vital intersections like Ely, can be delivered. Addressing conference delegates, Mrs Churchill said:
“It is vital to meet all the aspirations of stakeholders across the region, such as the Port of Felixstowe, the biggest and busiest container port in the country, relying on rail links via Ely North to the Midlands and beyond… The Greater Cambridgeshire and Peterborough LEP has said, upgrading the Ely area is their top priority and they are working closely with New Anglia LEP and the South East LEP to lobby for the investment.”
Turning to her own constituency, Mrs Churchill highlighted the need for collaborative working between all parties, to deliver these vital improvements:
“Bury [St Edmunds station] has development starting and now has 26 car parking spaces for staff and its 600,000 annual passenger movements. We are keen and have been encouraged by the joint workings of Abellio, Network Rail and the Department of Transport but we need to be helped by Suffolk County Council on junctions… the project at Bury is the community seeking answers.”
Speaking after the event, Mrs Churchill said:
“It was a pleasure to deliver the keynote speech at this year’s Suffolk Rail Conference which was especially pertinent, following the launch of the next ten years of East Anglian rail, last week. I was therefore delighted the conference was held, to move forward the case for improved rail in Suffolk and to meet the needs and standards we expect, from our new East Anglia rail service.”