George Freeman resounds his call for a bolder approach to improve rail services in East Anglia

For the last 5 years, most people travelling between London and Norwich at weekends have had to take the bus due to engineering works on the Great Eastern rail line. This is why I and the hundreds of thousands of passengers who have had to live with the disruption associated with neglected rail infrastructure in East Anglia welcome the news that Network Rail and Greater Anglia have agreed to reduce the amount of disruptive engineering work. For the first time in years trains will run over the Christmas period with a the number of weekends running a bus replacement service decreasing from the current 30 to only 7 weekends in 2013. This shows what can be done by closer co-operation between Track and Train operators.

But if we are really going to sort out the chaotic structure of our railways, and unlock the investment necessary to enable East Anglia to prosper, we may need to be bolder. The Government's longer term franchises with closer partnership between Network Rail and ToCs, along with recent announcements of major investment, are great news. But we won’t rebalance the economy without massive investment in new rail infrastructure. That's why I continue to make the case for an East Anglian Railway Company controlling both track and trains, with the ability to raise additional private investment to improve our network. We will never build a 21st century economy on 19th century infrastructure, so why don’t we use this new focus on infrastructure as a springboard to create new models of investment starting with bold new leadership in rail infrastructure and an East Anglian Regional Rail Company?

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To read more of my ideas on using rail as a driver in economic growth, click here, here and here or visit my Innovation blog

Big Tent Ideas Festival

Politics is undergoing a tectonic shift. That’s why I launched the Big Tent Ideas Festival, aiming to tackle the most difficult policy challenges we face. The Festival has now run for two years. This year we hosted our first-ever Leaders’ Summit and brought nearly 2,000 people together for the main Festival across fifty events and eight different tents, discussing ideas to reform our politics, our economy and our society.

The Big Tent Ideas Festival is part of the Capital Ideas Foundation, founded by a group of entrepreneurs to campaign for renewal in the radical centre-ground. Over the next year, we will be setting off round the country as the forum for the best new ideas in public policy. Click below and join us.

Read more:

Big Tent Ideas website

THE CASE FOR EFTA

We are in the middle of a Brexit civil war. What is clear is that the existing options will not unite our country.

Chequers has been dismissed by Brussels and is roundly rejected by the ERG. The Canada option was also not designed for the circumstances we currently face. We are a European nation already heavily reliant on the single market - wanting ideally to retain access to the single market without being in the 'political' union.

That’s why I believe ongoing membership of the European Free Trade Association is now the obvious route. It would give us off-the-shelf access to the single market, allow us to take back control of our fishing and farming industries, control free movement and let us negotiate our own trade deals.

Unless we stand up and fight for a sensible moderate Brexit, we risk enduring a #HardBrexit. There is an alternative that we can embrace now. It is time to embrace EFTA.

Publications

Progress for Oxford-Cambridge Arc as government announces preferred East West Rail central section

Announcing the preferred route, route E, for the Bedford to Cambridge section of the East West Rail line.
30 January 2020

Funding for on-street chargepoints doubled to help charge up electric vehicle revolution

Residential street chargepoint funding doubled and plans increasing access to real-time information released.
21 January 2020

Electric taxis to go wireless thanks to new charging tech trial

Wireless charging for electric taxis to start in Nottingham.
17 January 2020

First of a Kind 2020 launches to find this century’s Brunel

Department for Transport and Innovate UK launch competition to drive innovation on the railways.
13 January 2020