Peter Aldous MP for Waveney, Dan Poulter MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, and Therese Coffey MP for Suffolk Coastal, yesterday met with the Rt. Hon. Theresa Villiers MP, Minister of State for Transport, to highlight the need for investment in the East Suffolk Rail Line.
Mr Aldous discussed with the Minister the £3 million pledge by the Government to create the Beccles Loop, a passing point for trains in Beccles. The Beccles Loop is essential to ensure that both capacity and frequency of trains can be improved between Lowestoft and Ipswich. All the MPs were keen to stress to the Minister the need for a greater sense of corporate responsibility from train companies to the communities and passengers of East Suffolk. Peter Aldous also highlighted the forthcoming franchise renewal as an opportunity to improve the stations at Beccles and Lowestoft and to return hourly services from Lowestoft to London.
Mr Aldous said after the meeting:
“With the development of the new off-shore wind farms off Lowestoft, investment in the East Suffolk line is vital in developing a thriving economy in the Waveney area. Improved rail access will also help attract more visitors to such events as the Lowestoft Air Show and the Latitude Festival. With Central Government investment for the Beccles Loop confirmed I will now be campaigning to upgrade Lowestoft and Beccles stations and to return hourly train services from Lowestoft to London.”
Dan Poulter added:
“This is fantastic news for tourism in Suffolk, and for those who live and work here. Recent Government investment in transport infrastructure has been primarily in roads and this has been heavily focussed on the western side of the county, but improved rail services in East Suffolk are vital. Rail travel offers a convenient and greener alternative to road travel.”
Therese Coffey said:
“I am absolutely delighted that the County Council is also committed to this project. We now need to ensure that building work gets underway as soon as possible.”
The Minister listened to all the points raised, and reassured the Suffolk MPs of the Government’s firm commitment to maintaining and improving the line, and reaffirmed that she will continue to press Network Rail to ensure the stations on the line are upgraded to a suitable level, and agreed that, in return for a longer franchise agreement, rail companies needed to be more responsive to the needs of passenger groups and businesses in Eastern Suffolk. She also confirmed that she will be in contact with Suffolk County Council regarding the additional £1 million funding they have agreed to contribute towards the project.
Waveney District Council is conducting a Community Governance Review (CGR) for Lowestoft and the surrounding area and a Final Proposal has been published. Residents can use the Lowestoft CGR online consultation form to give their final comments on the proposal until 31 October 2016.
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