Massive disruption to rail passengers on Greater Anglia routes has prompted New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership to call for government intervention.
The LEP, which organises the Great Eastern Mainline taskforce, has written to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to express “disappointment” at weeks of cancellations and delays and urged it to investigate.
Most affected have been the brand-new fleet of Stadler trains which the LEP and its partners campaigned for so long to secure, although passengers on the Norwich to London line have also been caught up in the chaos.
As well as making a direct plea to the Transport Secretary, LEP chair Doug Field has also written to Jamie Burles, managing director of Greater Anglia and voiced his dismay that “our big prize – the Norwich in 90 services – seem quite often not to be running on time”.
The move came after Norfolk County Council’s scrutiny committee urged the LEP to support calls by Therese Coffey, MP for Suffolk Coastal, for the government to intervene over what she described as the “recent catastrophic performance of Greater Anglia’s newly introduced trains on the rail network in Suffolk”.
Mr Field said in his letter to the Transport Secretary: “The recent disruption has mainly affected rural lines, which given the geography of Norfolk and Suffolk are critical routes.
“However, there have also been a higher number than usual of cancelled trains on the London to Norwich route, which is yet to have the new trains. We would ask you to ask your officials to investigate as a matter of urgency what has gone wrong and what is being done to remedy the situation.
“I understand a number of MPs for the region are also asking you to do this – and on behalf of local authorities, businesses and education providers – we echo their concerns.
“We would also urge you to ensure appropriate compensation is being paid to passengers affected by the cancellations and delays.”
Mr Field has also urged caution on the introduction of the new trains on the mainline until the Department for Transport can be assured there will be no repeat of the same incidents on the rural lines.
The problems had highlighted the continuing need to upgrade the infrastructure on the line, particularly the signalling and level crossing equipment which had again proved “not fit for purpose”.
An outline business case for an upgrade to the infrastructure for the line is being developed by the Great Eastern Mainline taskforce, with the support of the Department for Transport, Greater Anglia and Network Rail, and it is hoped this will be presented to Mr Shapps and his officials once completed.