Rail infrastructure on the West Anglia Main Line between London, Cambridge and Stansted Airport makes services slow, unreliable and does not have the capacity to cater for more passengers and new housing without substantial investment to coincide with the introduction of Crossrail 2.
That is the verdict of the West Anglia Taskforce who says that new funding must be secured to build a further two tracks between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne as an early phase of Crossrail 2. That work will also help accelerate the delivery of 25,000 new homes and up to 10,000 new jobs. The West Anglia Main Line currently links together the London Stansted Cambridge Corridor and passes through identified growth areas such as the Upper Lee Valley (London’s largest Opportunity Area), Harlow Enterprise Zone and Cambridge Compass Enterprise Zone.
The Taskforce, which was established by the Government and City Hall, has today (Wednesday 20 July) published a report in which it calls for investment to address transport constraints that would provide a faster and more reliable rail service. It says it would add up to £15bn to the region’s economy and provide an additional four trains per hour to some stops and significantly reduce journey times from Cambridge to London.
The Taskforce has been working closely with four Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) across this area – the London Enterprise Panel, Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough, South East and Hertfordshire – that recognise the importance of investment in the West Anglia Main Line. The LEPs have joined together to make a case to Government via their Growth Deals to secure funding for vital improvements, which are due to be submitted later this month.
Investment in the West Anglia Main Line will also take a first step towards Crossrail 2, the proposed railway linking Surrey and Hertfordshire through the south west and north east of London and would improve access to more than 170 destinations worldwide at Stansted Airport.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I have been clear about my commitment to Crossrail 2 and the benefits this will bring to the capital. But it is crucial that we secure funding to upgrade the West Anglia Main Line before the construction of Crossrail 2 begins. That will help us unlock investment that will support vital new housing development in north London.”
The Taskforce is also working on a plan for short and medium term improvements that can be implemented in advance of ‘four-tracking’ on the line and will be discussing these with the new East Anglia Rail Passenger franchise operator. There will also be talks with businesses about the potential for private sector investment to support improvements and the Taskforce will report back its findings in the autumn.
Chair of the Taskforce, Sir Alan Haselhurst MP, said: “The need for investment in the West Anglia Main Line is overwhelmingly clear. With the right investment, spectacular growth from inner London through the Upper Lee Valley, Hertfordshire, Harlow, Stansted Airport and all the way to the outstanding University of Cambridge could be unleashed.
“Companies across the corridor deserve the best possible rail network; people travelling to work require reliability and London’s third largest airport for passengers and employees alike, needs a high quality link to the capital.
“I look forward to working with the new East Anglia franchise operator and reporting back in the autumn on the specific gains which investment in our rail infrastructure will bring.”
You can read the Taskforce's brochure setting out the case for investment here.