11/12/2011 The Politics Show East


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Here in the East: We're at the North Norfolk Railway in Sheringham,


where we're looking at what is coming down the line.


What is in store for Aarau ways and will a new company make a break for


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 1801 seconds


Hello and welcome to the part of the programme that's just for us


here in the East. I'm Amelia Reynolds and this is Sheringham


Station on the North Norfolk Railway.


Later, we get the first glimpse of the new Dutch company that is to


run the trains here. And trains minister Theresa Villiers says she


will look at improving our rail services. I know people in the area


would like to see more improvements and we will be considering those it


very seriously for the new franchise coming up and for the


next period of rail funding which starts in 2014. This line was first


opened in 1887. It was close by beating and then reopened by a


heritage line in 1976. Joining me is a Trevor Eady, who used to be


the commercial director at Norwich airport. He is in charge here. It


has to be one of the most popular heritage lines? Yes, we hope we are


in the top 10 for heritage lines in the country. 150,000 people had


used us this year. That is incredible. So, a really important


part of the tourist industry? hope that it will cause people to


go to Sheringham as to a one-hour train and it going to the towns and


it used the local shopping. It is not just about heritage? Yes, we


educate people about evacuation and other educational activities


throughout the week. Thank you very much.


These heritage trains take half an hour to travel to Holt further down


the line but across the road, you can still get a mainline train to


Norwich. And from there it's just under two hours to London.


Commuters make up 60% of passengers in the Greater Anglia Rail region.


In addition, services from the capital run on the West Coast Main


Line through Milton Keynes. Or the East Coast rail line through


Peterborough, while First Capital Connect run trains to Bedford and


to Cambridge. The Government announced last week that a new line


from Bedford to Oxford will go ahead sooner than expected. And


High Speed Two is expected to cut through the far west of this region,


although a decision on the �32 billion project has now been


delayed until the new year. New lines are very welcome but this


region has some of the most crowded trains in Europe. But next week,


MPs will be campaigning for greater investment in our railways at a


summit about regional services. Andrew Sinclair reports.


This is probably the line most in need of improvement, the InterCity


service from London to Norwich. 71 times a day, it sweeps through the


countryside of Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, carrying 9 million


passengers a year. We have had 15% growth since we started the


franchise in 2004. An extra 50,000 people per day. It is a popular


railway. It is feeding the important towns of East Anglia and


London. But this is a line with serious constraints we leave London


at 90mph. For the first 20 miles there is plenty of track, and


trains can easily overtake, but at Shenfield it goes down to one line


in each direction all the way to Norwich. It's a busy line, shared


with freight and commuter services this is where delays often occur.


It is one of the busiest two-track railways in the country. You can


only use the railway you have got and that the speed of the services


that run on it. So does frustrate our ability to improve journey


times. Improving journey times is what MPs along this track are keen


to see. Extra passing loops like these at Witham would help and if


the level crossings were upgraded, trains would be allowed to go


through them faster. With the National Express franchise coming


to an end and Network Rail drawing up a list of spending priorities,


two of our MPs have decided to call a rail summit to get all interested


parties together to find a way of making improvements. What we are


looking for his proper investment that comes in a, in a once and


regeneration kind of opportunity to get our economy -- communities of


moving better and to benefit those used for business. This is a huge


deal. Nobody has campaigned to have a kind over up rows service that


the rest of the country enjoys. If we do not do anything, it will be


quicker to get to Brussels and to get to Norwich. We are asking for a


planner, deliverable over the long term and structured properly.


MPs are main argument is it an economic one. They have seized on a


report done by the old East of England Development Agency which it


concluded that if this route was upgraded, it would be worth �3.5


billion up to the local economy. Across the region, there are


various campaigns under way for rail improvements - the call to


upgrade the Fen Line. The demand for a proper East-West rail link.


MPs believe there is still a future for rail, it just needs some money


and commitment. Well, this week the rail minister,


Theresa Villiers, took the train to Norwic, which by the way was late.


Andrew Sinclair met her at the station and began by asking about


her impressions of the service. This line is crucially important to


the economy of this area. That is one of the reasons are why there


are improvements to the infrastructure on the way. But I


understand people's aspirations to see improvements in the future. We


hope we can deliver them. But if you look across Arab region, there


are calls to improve the friend line and, they are caused to


improve the Stansted Express, to have an East-West rail link, this


seemed to be so many demands at the moment to improve infrastructure.


Well, a crucial way to improve those demands is to make sure the


cost of running the railways comes down and also to make sure we bear


down on the cost of delivering infrastructure upgrade. I think we


have a real chance of doing that. And although we have big programmes


coming up like Thames link which will benefit parts of the region


that your Channel's -- you shall serve, their other areas of and if


we are able to deliver those, we have -- the rail industry has to


step up and reduce costs. That is why we have a major reform


programme in response to the report produced by Sir Roy McNulty who


thought ready to take billions and cost out of the railways were the


right reforms. How big a challenge is it? He it is very tough, there


is no doubt that costs have spiralled on the railways despite


its great success with increasing passenger numbers. We have not seen


the unit costs come down. That is a real concern for stop you feel


optimistic about the future of rail travel? Absolutely. We are


undertaking a programme which is unprecedented since the Victorian


area -- era. The Chancellor has placed a higher priority on


transport investment, and rail in particular. We are delivering


important improvement on our existing nail right work -- rail


network because it is crucial for a healthy and flourishing economy.


Joining me are Norman Lamb, the Lib Dem MP and also their railway


journalist Philip Sutton. Norman Lamb, promising words from the


minister but are you sure we are going to get a real improvement on


this Norwich to London line? Quite optimistic. Abellio are serious


railway people. They have a good reputation on other rail franchises.


And the way they run of the franchise, manage the staff,


concentrating on reliability, is the key thing. They also improve


ticketing arrangements with new ticketing machines and having it


every member of staff with a smart phone so they can tell you how long


they will take to sort every problem out. It could be �3.5


billion of for the local economy, we have to unlock that?


absolutely have got to. Rail infrastructure is also important


for the economy and we could do better if we had a good system.


Philip's cousin, wide you think the government has brought forward the


improvements for the East West link section from Oxford to Bedford? Is


it good news? It is very good news. It is a shame it has not happened


before. There was an opportunity to extended to Cambridge. That could


happen. It could, but part of the line has been built over. But if


there is the political will, it needs to be done. You have the


summit next week, what you think will be achieved? I think it is


important for MPs to bring people together, hold organisations to


account. Network Rail is also critical in this. They are


responsible for the infrastructure, the signalling and so forth. I am


not satisfied with their performance in the East of England.


We have to make sure that they improve their performance, get on


with the improvement works to the overhead lines in Essex, because


getting the infrastructure right will improve reliability. Philip


Sutton, what about the high speed to line? �32 billion is the price


tag on it, value-for-money? I think so. It is a shame it has taken so


long to get this far. There is talk of a postponement because of the


issue with the Chilterns. But in France and Spain and Italy, they


have built high-speed lines in the time it that we have been talking


about it. So, slow of the what? in European countries, you have


high-speed lines which is due to places very fast. We need to help


the economy grow, particularly in the North of England, where Connect


ability to London is very important. Briefly, Philip Sutton, row


passengers' bugbear is the cost of rail travel -- cover the cost of


rail trouble. I would agree. Particularly for families


travelling to London, they would choose the car over the train. We


have to cap the prices. You have made moves towards that? Yes, Lib


Dems in government have a been able to reduce the price increase. It is


now only RPI plus 1%. Norman Lamb, more from you, Philip Sutton thank


you. Now stations in the east of the


region will see a change next year when a new company takes over the


franchise. The history is complicated though. Let's take a


look. In 1994, British Rail was broken up under John Major. In 1997,


the first franchise to Norwich after privatisation went to First


after privatisation went to First Great Eastern. In 2004, after the


creation of the Greater Anglia Region the franchise was awarded to


National Express under the brand name "One". In 2008, One was


rebranded National Express East Anglia. This year, Abellio, a Dutch


company, was awarded the franchise and it will start running the


and it will start running the trains next year. But the company


is already proving controversial after fears that 4,000 peak hour


seats could be lost in 2012. Our Business Correspondent Richard Bond


has been looking at their plans. Ever travelled on a Dutch train?


Well they're a cut above. Modern, clean, punctual. Some are even


double decker. Early next year a subsidiary of the Dutch state


railway will take over the Greater Anglia franchise. But dismiss from


your head the idea that our trains will resemble this one. The Dutch


railways are better than ours because the Government has invested


vast sums in them over many decades. When Abellio takes charge of


Greater Anglia in February it will inherit the same old trains that


National Express currently operates, with the same old infrastructure.


And its franchise will only last for 29 months. Hardly long enough


to effect a transformation. But hang on, Beckett is a chance that


things could get better. To find out how, I have come to Leeds will


stop Since 2004, Abellio has run Northern Rail. It's one of two UK


franchises Abellio already operates. So how's it doing? They are


carrying 30 it more passengers now. Overcrowding became a problem


quickly and they are put together leap -- innovative deals to do


something about it. In 2004, punctuality was 83%. It's now 90%.


I think they have been able to run the timetable and stick to it. We


do have delays, but that is caused by tabling problems. The service is


run roughly to time. This cycle point just outside Leeds station is


similar to one Abellio plans to build in Chelmsford. Along with


things like cleaner stations and better customer infomation, it's


one of the relatively low budget ways in which improvements will be


made. The problem is that we're talking about a 2.5 year time frame.


So a big investment in new trains will not be possible. We will keep


the trains that are there, and give them an uplifting in getting the


passenger experience is right. But it will not be a full-scale


replacement. But there are already concerns about Abellio's plans to


send back some of the 188 extra carriages added to the Greater


Anglia network by National Express, or NX EA. Clearly, passengers who


had received at the 188 extra coaches will have some concerns


about the loss of 36 passenger -- the loss of 36. Passenger figures


will be meeting with Abellio to discuss this and crowding concerns


will be in a our minds. We want to modernise the fleet and by doing


that, you can use a few lesser vehicles or in the fleet while


still using the same service. If you compare our plans are with


those of our rivals and we were bidding, there will be eight


vehicles less in service but that is not in the peak services.


Abellio will hope to run our railways well enough to win a 15-


year franchise from 2014. That would allow it to invest in new


fleets of trains to provide the faster services everybody craves.


But for the time being, we must wait.


Overcrowding is an issue in this region. On Monday, first capital


connector are starting their 12 carriage longer trains. And that


will be welcome news for commuters. This is the overcrowding they


endure on the line at the moment. Joining me and Norman Lamb is a


representative of the rare professional magazine. We do so


that overcrowding is the single biggest issue facing commuters at


the moment? He it is one of the main issues. What a Passenger Focus


say is that punctuality is slightly ahead of that. The main thing is


that you want to get your destination and the second thing is


that to expect to get a seat because you have paid a lot of


money. It is the thing that people really complain about. It is a


slightly confusing picture, Norman Lamb, when we have this Bedford


line bringing more carriages on, yet Abellio say that they are going


to take carriages away? Yes, I met them this week and I put this


directly to them. They absolutely insist that this should not have


any impact on overcrowding. In other words, they are taking sees


off-peak services are where there is spare capacity. We will have to


hold them to account on that. They play it should not have any effect.


We convinced by them? Real are serious people and they were


convinced that that was the case. Having experienced standing up from


London to Colchester with all my luggage, it is a pain so I


completely understand why it is important. Having said that,


reliability is the most important thing. Are you optimistic that


things will change? It will be interesting to see. Some of the


other complaints of the general scruffiness of the rolling stock,


length of journeys, Abellio are going to be cleaning the trains are


as is usual at the start of a new franchise. They will not be


different rates, but they will be cleaner. It is only a short


franchise. There is a limit to what they will be able to achieve.


is a limit, but in a way, it is the perfect opportunity for them to


demonstrate how good they are. If they are going to have a chance of


winning the main franchise of 15 years, there was to demonstrate in


this 29 months that they are a good operator. I am interested in what


you think about franchises and the system. Is it the best way to


operate a railway? Well, that is an interesting question. Some


franchises work well, some do not. Not many other countries have a


system like ours where it is so split with so many different train


operators. There are longer franchises like Chilson, where they


have done a lot it was to the line. -- Jill Turner. -- Chilterns. So it


depends, there might be a case for having some that are taken back


into state ownership and keeping the pot visible once run by others.


Briefly, Norman Lamb, you will be looking closely at what Abellio


will be doing? Yes, we will be holding them to account. Thank you


both very much. Well, that's all we've got time for.


It's also the end of the series. But we'll be back next year With a


brand-new programme called Sunday Politics. We look forward to your


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