Great Eastern Rail Campaign

Great Eastern Rail Campaign (2)East Anglia needs a high-quality, world-class rail service commuters and businesses in the region deserve – that is why New Anglia LEP launched the Great Eastern Rail Campaign.

The Campaign gained strong momentum since its launch in Summer 2014. Over 100 of the region’s most senior business and education leaders representing more than 111,000 employees and students pledged their support and more than 1,600 commuters and rail users joined the Campaign online.

Thank you to all of you who signed up to the Campaign

See the business and education leaders and stakeholders who supported the Campaign here.

Great Eastern Rail Report

Mark Pendlington, chairman New Anglia LEP with Caroline Williams, Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, Stuart Wright, Aviva, and Angela Robson, Norwich University of the Arts

In November 2014 the Great Eastern Rail Report was handed to Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Chancellor George Osborne outlining the strong economic and business case for investment. The Report called for:

  • Investment of £476m in the main line including infrastructure improvement
  • New rolling stock to be included in the new franchise tender to be announced in August 2015
  • Achieve London to Chelmsford in 25 minutes, Colchester in 40 minutes, Ipswich in 60 minutes, Norwich in 90 minutes

In return the investment will deliver:

  • £4.5bn economic benefits
  • £1.3bn of capital investment along the line
  • Journey time savings of £9m annually
  • 48,000 jobs along the line and over 3,000 full-time construction jobs
  • £9.50 return for every £1 invested

Read the Great Eastern Rail Report here.

Taskforce meeting with Transport Secretary 2 Nov 10 2014

The Taskforce meeting with Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin

On December 2, the Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughlin announced that the Government will support the key recommendations of the Great Eastern Main Line (GEML) Taskforce’s report.

Patrick McLoughlin said “I am very grateful to the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce and the ‘Norwich in Ninety’ campaign for their analysis of what needs to be done to help deliver world-class rail services for East Anglia, including better infrastructure and state-of the-art rolling stock. I am delighted to say we are going to support the key recommendations of the Taskforce report.

“This government is sending a clear signal to prospective bidders for the next franchise that they will need to show how they will build a better rail network for East Anglia and make Norwich in Ninety a reality.”

Read the Department for Transport news story here.

Mark Pendlington, Chairman of New Anglia LEP and co-chair of GEML Taskforce said, “This is a massive achievement for our rail campaign and a great vote of confidence in the future of our region. The voices of many thousands of passengers and business, education and stakeholder leaders across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex have been heard loud and clear.

28.9.14 rail taskforce LAs & user groups

Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce and Stakeholders

“This is the best result we have ever had for the Great Eastern Main Line and it is all done to the power of effective collaboration with passengers, businesses, local authorities, MPs and education leaders, working together to put a compelling case across. I would like to thank them all for their fantastic efforts throughout the year.

“The priority now is to make sure that we have the momentum and that passengers begin to see improvements to the standard of service as soon as possible.

“Our Taskforce will continue its hugely valuable work to ensure that the investments and improvements are delivered on time and to the specifications we outlined. We will be working closely with everyone involved in making this happen.”

Invitation to Tender

In June 2015, the Department for Transport announced the three companies who will be bidding for the new franchise. They are Abellio East Anglia, in partnership with Stagecoach, First East Anglia and National Express East Anglia.

The train companies will now submit their bids to government by August with the expectation that they will be innovative in their approach to achieving the recommendations of the Great Eastern Rail Report. The contract winner will be announced by Government in summer 2016 with the new franchise starting in October 2016.

In September 2015, Department for Transport published the Invitation to Tender for the Greater Anglia franchise – setting out the specification for the next East Anglia rail franchise. Passengers will be able to travel from London to ‘Norwich in 90′ and Ipswich in 60’ when the new franchise starts in October 2016. The contract winner will also be required to bring modern, state of the art trains, with the expectation that they will be new. The full invitation to tender Invitation to Tender can be read on the Government’s website.

June 2016 update

As the Government prepares to announce the successful bidder for the East Anglia rail franchise in the coming weeks, the Great Eastern Mainline Taskforce has offered a punctual reminder of its demands for a better rail service for the region.

It’s About Time – Chloe Smith MP, Mark Pendlington and David Burch show the GEML Taskforce’s expectations on train times from London.

It’s About Time – Chloe Smith MP, Mark Pendlington and David Burch show the GEML Taskforce’s expectations on train times from London.

In a letter to Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin MP, Joint Chairs of the GEML Taskforce Mark Pendlington and Chloe Smith MP have restated the key improvements they are determined to secure:

• New rolling stock to be included in the new franchise tender.
• The delivery of journey time improvements to achieve: London to Chelmsford in 25 minutes, Colchester in 40 minutes, Ipswich in 60 minutes and Norwich in 90 minutes.
• A comprehensive package of infrastructure improvements.

The letter to the Secretary of State has also been signed by over 20 business and sector leaders from across the three counties, including the Chambers of Commerce, Anglian Farmers Ltd, Bernard Matthews Ltd, Willis Towers Watson, Howes Percival LLP, Aviva, EEEGR (East of England Energy Group), Visit East Anglia and the LEP board.

A new franchise and success for the Campaign

Campaigners for better, faster trains on the Great Eastern Main Line (GEML) service are celebrating today, with the announcement of a £1.4 billion contract to Abellio to run train services in the East.


Bombardier will supply 600 of its new Aventra trains


After a thorough bidding process the Department for Transport has awarded the company a nine-year contract to deliver transformational change for the region’s train users, including:

• More than 1,040 new state of the art carriages by 2020 and journey times cut by 10%.
• At least four 90-minute services between London and Norwich each weekday and two 60-minute services per day between London and Ipswich
• 32,000 more seats by 2021 and free Wi-Fi for all passengers
• £1 billion contract for UK train manufacturer Bombardier to supply new trains

History of the Taskforce

Visiting Norfolk in 2013, Chancellor George Osborne said the government wanted to support East Anglia’s growing economy and set up the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce to define how we could have a faster, better journey between Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk.

The Taskforce meets every two months and is co-chaired by Mark Pendlington and Chloe Smith. Ben Gummer MP and Simon Burns represent stakeholders in Suffolk and Essex and David Burch from Essex Chamber of Commerce represents the business community. Government and industry experts from the Department for Transport and Network Rail also support the Taskforce.

Read the Rail Prospectus for East Anglia which sets out the priorities for the region’s railway system.


Marie Finbow
Strategy Manager
Project Manager for the Taskforce

Terms of Reference
2nd June 2015 Taskforce meeting minutes
18th May 2015 Taskforce meeting minutes
9th March 2015 Taskforce meeting minutes

East Anglia Franchise – Delivering Transformation Presentation – October 2015
NRPS Abellio Greater Anglia – Presentation – October 2015
Great Eastern Mainline Taskforce Presentation – October 2015