Investment in our infrastructure – including roads, railways and broadband – supports local communities across the Witham constituency and enables economic growth. I have been pleased to campaign for investment from the Government in new high speed broadband to local parishes and areas not yet covered. Residents and businesses can check whether they are in an area set to receive investment by visiting the Superfast Essex website:
The investment from the Government and Essex County Council is connecting rural areas to high speeds and if any reader has concerns or questions about their broadband service and when they will be upgraded, they are welcome to get in touch.
As well as needing higher speed broadband services, local communities need to have access to higher speed and reliable rail services. The constant complaints I receive about poor services, delays and cancellations show that current services need improving. The Government is currently in the process of deciding which rail operator should run the East Anglia rail franchise from October 2016. However wins the franchise competition will be expected to deliver significant service improvements. This includes the introduction of new services to ease congestion, better quality trains to give commuters a modern service, and free wi-fi for passengers.
Some service improvements are dependent on modern infrastructure and upgrades being made to the railway itself, including overhead power cables, signalling, and tracks. Residents who use the railway at the weekend will know of the impact of engineering works being undertaken, which has caused considerable disruption to journeys. Further investment is needed in on the railway line to deliver a modern rail service capable of increasing services and capacity to meet growing demand.
Network Rail have recently published their Anglia Route Study, which highlights the impact of future demand and proposes options to address these problems. One of the proposals if for a passing loop to be built north of Witham. This would enable fast and freight trains to pass commuter services stopping at more stations. Further details of the study and all the options to improve infrastructure over the next thirty years can be found online at the weblink below.
The options that have been put forward will be considered further before the investment plan for the period 2019-2024 is determined. I believe that the passing loop is a key piece of infrastructure that needs implementing as soon as possible. We need better rail connections and services towards London and towards the rest of the eastern region and a passing loop will help facilitate these and unlock new economic opportunities. I would encourage residents who would also like to see the passing loop option taken forward at the earliest opportunity or who have other comments on the Study to get in touch and let me know your thoughts.
If any local residents or businesses need help or assistance from me, they are always welcome to get in touch by email to: WithamMP@parliament.uk by post to: Priti Patel MP, House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA, or by telephone on: 020 7219 3528.