New Chair to lead rail taskforce

A new Chair has pledged to improve reliability, reduce journey times, and attract new investment by continuing the hard work of the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce. 

The Taskforce, a collaboration of MPs, business leaders and representatives from Network Rail and franchise holder Greater Anglia meets regularly and lobbies for improvements to infrastructure and service on the line. 

The Taskforce will now be chaired by Giles Watling, MP for Clacton. He said: “I am delighted to become Chair of the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce. 

“This is an important group, that I have worked with since my election in 2017. Improving rail infrastructure to my constituency, and across Essex, is one of my priorities and this is a great opportunity to improve the journeys for all residents. 

“It is time to improve reliability, reduce journey times, and attract new investment. That will be my focus as Chair of the Taskforce.” 

He succeeds Priti Patel, Home Secretary and MP for Witham, as Chair of the Taskforce. 

She said: “Giles has always been a committed supporter of the GEML Taskforce and I know that he will be brilliant at championing its work to secure key infrastructure enhancements on the mainline.

 “I am proud of the work that has taken place during my time as Chair to make a strong case for investment in our local rail network and I will maintain a close interest in the Taskforce going forward as it updates its business case to secure funding through the RNEP process.” 

The Taskforce has already helped secure a £1.4bn investment as part of Greater Anglia’s new franchise, including 1040 brand new carriages across the entire network – the biggest single investment in new rolling stock in the UK since privatisation. A Taskforce report estimated this investment would bring £4.5bn in economic benefits, creating 48,000 jobs along the line. The focus now turns towards work to achieve further improvements: 

  • Holding Greater Anglia to account to deliver on the investments and commitments outlined in its new franchise

  • Ensuring Network Rail delivers on required planned investments

  • Campaigning for the GEML as an ideal route to trial digital signalling

  • Securing funding to deliver critical enhancement projects

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