Norfolk MPs to demand answers over 'unacceptable' Greater Anglia rail chaos
PUBLISHED: 14:57 17 December 2019 | UPDATED: 16:44 17 December 2019
A Norfolk MP has pledged to make solving the ongoing issues with the Greater Anglia rail service, which has seen swathes of cancellations and misery and frustration for stranded passengers, a "personal priority".
Chloe Smith, the newly re-elected MP for Norwich North, said problems with the service were "unacceptable", but claimed the introduction of the new carriages had been "a win" for passengers.
Conservative MP Ms Smith said: "It's clearly been unacceptable for people to be inconvenienced so badly by the services recently.
"It has been a huge win to have got the new carriages into service this year which I've been very proud to have led as a local MP.
"That was only one half of the overall job. The other half is the track improvements."
And Ms Smith, who was re-elected on Thursday, with a majority of 4,738, added: "We will prioritise track improvements in East Anglia - that is what is needed to complete the conversion of our lines from left behind to fit for the future.
"I treat it as a personal priority to keep on to the Department for Transport, Network Rail and Greater Anglia to tackle these improvements."
And commenting on the transport funding gap between London and areas like the north of England, she said: "Better transport is a huge priority for me and I will continue the fight for us to get the transport we need in this region."
Richard Bacon, Conservative MP for South Norfolk, said he had demanded answers from rail bosses and expected a briefing to take place for local MPs this week.
"However, because all elected MPs must be sworn-in at the beginning of a new Parliament, followed by the Queen's Speech and, in this case, the Brexit legislation, any debate on the trains will probably have to wait until after Christmas," he said.
"Some people have already decided that the recent problems are all to do with the new trains but this may not be entirely accurate. There are also plenty of good old-fashioned reasons why trains get delayed during the winter, particularly when running over old track."
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While Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis said: "I want to see improvements to the railway station in Great Yarmouth but if we want to see more people on the lines then the trains have got to be running effectively, efficiently and on time."
Mr Lewis, (Cons) who increased his majority by almost 10,000 votes in Thursday's election, added: "If people have organised their day around being in London for a meeting, they need to be able to rely on that service and at the moment they can't - and that just isn't good enough."
Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman said: "In the last ten years I have fought hard for investment in the Norwich-Cambridge corridor.
"I'm delighted that the prime minister this summer asked me to take on a new role at the DfT for better passenger service."
The Conservative politician added: "In Mid Norfolk we have a particular problem with the new trains, the lack of accessibility for people disabled or with prams and station refurbishment which, if returned to DfT, I look forward to tackling."
While Waveney MP Peter Aldous (Cons) said train services were of "critical importance" to his constituents, and added: "I am looking to meet up with Greater Anglia as soon as possible. These issues do need to be addressed.
"There are questions that need to be asked and I will be looking for them to come up with answers."
He said: "There has been a deficit where for a long, long time we have not got the investment that we're entitled to expect.
"Infrastructure, roads and railways are vitally important to my constituents and to the Waveney area. Along with my colleagues over the course of this parliament, we will be campaigning for that."
South West Norfolk Conservative MP Liz Truss said: "This is simply not acceptable and urgent action needs to be taken.
"Rail passengers need to know they have a service they can rely on yet still cancellations are taking place."
Norwich South Labour MP Clive Lewis, North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker (Cons), Broadland MP Jerome Mayhew (Cons), and North West Norfolk MP James Wild (Cons) have been contacted for comment.