West Anglia Taskforce set to champion ‘vital’ rail improvements

08 September 2015

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, today hailed the formation of the West Anglia Taskforce to help champion the case for vital improvements to rail links between the capital, Cambridge and Stansted.

The West Anglia Taskforce will hold its first meeting at the House of Commons today, following an announcement earlier this year as part of the Chancellor and the Mayor’s long term economic plan for London.

Chaired by Saffron Walden MP Sir Alan Haselhurst, the West Anglia Taskforce will build on case-making already presented by Transport for London (TfL) and the London Stansted Cambridge Consortium (LSCC) and submitted to Network Rail in June.

It will be assessing how rail connections to Stansted and Cambridge from Liverpool Street and Stratford can be improved. This will help to spur the delivery of thousands of new homes and jobs, as well as support aspirations for the corridor to become a focus for technology and bioscience-led economic growth in the “golden triangle” of London, Cambridge and Oxford. This would also enable Stansted Airport to grow to its planned capacity and stimulate investment and development in an area of Greater London with huge untapped potential.

Currently, services on the West Anglia Main Line (WAML) are severely hampered between Coppermill Junction (just South of Tottenham Hale) and Broxbourne Junction in Hertfordshire because this section of line consists of only two tracks. Introducing a further two tracks (‘four-tracking’) could deliver an additional four trains per hour to some stops, increasing capacity on some parts of the corridor by 50 per cent and taking up to seven minutes off journey times from Cambridge to London, as well as improving the resilience and reliability of the route.

Four-tracking would also pave the way for Crossrail 2, a proposed new railway serving London and the wider South East which would allow up to 30 trains per hour in each direction to cross central London and connect into the region’s existing transport network. Delivered by 2030, Crossrail 2 could unlock up to 70,000 new homes and more than 20,000 new jobs in the WAML corridor alone. The early delivery of four-tracking will ensure that this growth can be kick-started ahead of Crossrail 2 opening in 2030.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, said: “We know that substantial investment into the West Anglia Main Line has great potential to unleash economic growth in London and beyond. Four-tracking of this line will also be a hugely important precursor to the delivery of Crossrail 2, allowing us to reap many of the benefits that this brand new railway will bring much more quickly. With faster journey times, thousands of new homes and jobs, as well as better connections between London, Stansted and Cambridge – it’s a no-brainer. The West Anglia Taskforce is now set to champion that argument and build the business case for a project that has clear benefits for London and for UK plc.”

Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “We have ambitious plans for East Anglia's rail network as part of our long-term economic plan, and the West Anglia Main Line is a key part of that. I'm pleased that a taskforce is looking at the long term potential to make journeys better for rail customers on the line and I look forward to hearing its findings in due course."

Sir Alan Haselhurst MP, said: “I am very pleased to have been given a key role in the West Anglia Taskforce and I look forward to working with everyone who is on-board. At last there is to be a focused in-depth study of a key transport corridor serving a major growth area of the country".

Notes to editors

1. Neale Coleman, Mayoral Advisor for Tottenham, will Chair the Taskforce’s Working Group. David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, will serve as a member of the Taskforce following an invitation from the Secretary of State. Isabel Dedring, Deputy Mayor for Transport, and Michele Dix, TfL’s Managing Director of Crossrail 2, have been asked by Sir Alan Haselhurst MP to serve as members of the Taskforce.

2. A full list of West Anglia Taskforce members is available.

3. It is expected that The West Anglia Taskforce will report its initial findings to the Government and Network Rail in the summer of next year.

4. The West Anglia Main Line runs from Liverpool Street and Stratford to Stansted Airport and Cambridge, linking together the West Anglia Main Line Corridor and passing through identified growth areas such as the Upper Lee Valley (London’s largest Opportunity Area) and Harlow Enterprise Zone.

5. Every day 71,000 people commute into London from the rest of Corridor, and one in every hundred working Londoners commute to parts of the West Anglia Main Line corridor that are outside London – a significant proportion of this commuting is by rail.

6. London’s population is set to grow by 37% to 11.3m in 2050. The London Infrastructure Plan 2050 has identified that 49,000 new homes need to be built every year to meet the growing demand for housing and the existing backlog. The Upper Lee Valley, as London’s largest Opportunity Area, has huge potential to fulfil some of this demand for new housing and to support jobs growth.

7. Currently the line between Coppermill Junction, just south of Tottenham Hale, and Broxbourne Junction in Hertfordshire consists of just two tracks, with fast and slow services competing for space. As a result, journey times are relatively long for the longer-distance services and frequencies are relatively low for the shorter-distance stopping services. Reliability is also an issue; if one track is out of action services can become delayed.

8. Life Sciences and medical technology is the third largest contributor to economic growth in the UK and, according to research by the London Stansted Cambridge Consortium in 2015, is set to generate over 14,000 new jobs by 2023. The latest large multinational to establish its headquarters in the West Anglia Main Line Corridor is AstraZeneca; when its building is finished by the end of 2016 it will join other life sciences giants such as GSK and Amgen.

9. For more information about Crossrail 2, visit www.crossrail2.co.uk