South Suffolk’s new MP has got straight to work campaigning for rail improvements, one of his main election pledges.
James Cartlidge met with Hannah Briggs, the public affairs manager for Network Rail to discuss line improvements for the Sudbury to Marks Tey branch line.
The pair took the train to Marks Tey, to consider the key issues, with Mr Cartlidge calling for a business case to be made to see investment in the line.
“These are a range of things, some are ambitious and some are more realistic,” said Mr Cartlidge. “But that doesn’t mean we are not going to try.”
The pair spoke about ways to improve line speed, with Mr Cartlidge saying a small change could have a drastic effect for passengers.
“The thing about line speed is the biggest problem here is connections,” said the Conservative MP.
“A faster line speed saving a couple of minutes could be the difference between missing a connection.”
The speed is currently restricted to 60mph with nine level crossings on the short 19 minute route, including seven user worked pedestrian crossings and two road crossings.
The crossings are one of the reasons for the line speed restriction and there could be changes to these.
However, Miss Briggs said no decision had been made on this, adding any conclusions would be subject to full consultations.
One of Mr Cartlidge’s main ambitions is to have the line fully electrified, enabling future direct services to London.
Mr Cartlidge explained that as well as creating a faster route to the capital there are other benefits.
He said: “If the train on the Sudbury branch line breaks down, passengers currently need to wait for a replacement to arrive from Norwich.”
For electrification, a business case would be needed with Babergh and Braintree District Councils and Suffolk and Essex County Council’s involved.
Mr Cartlidge said he would go to the other MPs representing communities on the line and seek their support.
Network Rail has recently received a petition from residents requesting lifts at Marks Tey station and is considering the proposal.
Mr Cartlidge said he would write to the Secretary of State to ensure that a lift was included in the franchise specification for the region.
He added the meeting was an important sign of his ambitions as an MP.
“In the election I said transport was a big issue for me and I’m going to do what I can to help.”