Meeting with SoS for Transport Mark Harper MP
On 5th September, the Eastern Powerhouse (Chair, James Palmer, Executive Director Steven Lynch, ResPublica Director Phillip Blond) met with SoS for Transport Mark Harper MP to discuss railway infrastructure in the East of England.
We were joined at the meeting by Dr Thérèse Coffey MP, Chloe Smith MP, and Paul Bristow MP, who all made representation in favour of investment in the Ely Area Enhancements.
Two proposals which we suggested to the SoS were:
To conduct feasibility studies on stations in the East which could become business hubs that drive the rural economy
The need for investment in rail in the East, particularly in the Ely Area Enhancements, which include upgrades at Ely North, Haughley Junction, and the Soham to Ely dual tracking.
More specifically, the East has 52 railway stations and the Eastern Powerhouse, working with over 20 MPs, wrote to the Secretary of State for Transport earlier this year, requesting to discuss the possibility of creating business hubs at railway stations in our region.
Many stations are on large plots of land that are under utilised and could become business hubs that drive the rural economy. Particularly given the obvious connectivity benefits they already have
Our proposal to the Secretary of State for Transport was to carry out feasibility studies on stations in the east to see which were most appropriate for development. Mr Harper agreed in principle and we will have further meetings with representatives to bring forward a plan for stations in our region.
Secondly, we discussed the need for investment in rail in the east, particularly in the Ely Area Enhancements, which include upgrades at Ely North, Haughley Junction, and Soham to Ely dual tracking.
It was noted that the benefit of these improvements would be felt across the whole of the region. The Secretary of State agreed to write to the Eastern Powerhouse with a statement of the current situation regarding the Ely Area Enhancements.
James Palmer, Chair of the Eastern Powerhouse said:
“The Eastern Powerhouse works with its members and politicians from across the region to promote business opportunities in the East of England. Our meeting with Mark Harper followed a letter supported by over 20 MPs in the east. Our aim is to influence government and private sector investors in favour of our region. We were delighted to receive a positive response from the Secretary of State for Transport and will continue to work on this and other opportunities for the east.”