Norfolk business add their weight to Westminster East Anglian Rail Summit

An East Anglia Rail Summit has been organized by Chloe Smith MP on 31 January in Westminster to be attended by MP, Local Enterprise Partnerships and business leaders from across Norfolk Suffolk, Essex and Cambridgeshire.

The session will be in a workshop style allowing two hours to discuss the latest updates to the key issues facing the rail network in East Anglia in particular the next steps on franchising, Network rail strategic business plan and the next steps on line speeds, rolling stock and other infrastructure possibilities.

Hear what Norfolk business leaders have to say in advance of the summit:

Caroline Williams CEO Norfolk Chamber of Commerce said:
“Norfolk businesses needs improved rail infrastructure in order to create the economy and the resulting jobs which we are all striving for. An independent economic study showed that improvements called for would contribute £3.7bn to the region’s economy. We now have a window of opportunity and I, together with Norfolk Chamber members Aviva, Create Consulting, HJ Boswell and Blackwell Print, will be joining Greater Anglia, our MPs and LEPs across the region in Westminster at the East Anglian Rail Summit to ensure that the business voice is heard loud and clear”

Andrew Dernie, Head of Business Management Aviva said:
“Aviva is a global business and an effective transport infrastructure is critical to our operations particularly in Norwich where we employ over 6,000 people. We are increasingly using technology to support collaboration across our businesses and reduce our need to travel but a degree of direct contact and team-work will always be vital.  Efficient rail links between London, our international transport hub and Norwich is increasingly important for the Eastern region to remain competitive and be attractive to organisations serving a world-wide market.

We appreciate parliamentarians support in ensuring the region works together to improve the rail network. In 2012 Aviva spent over £1m with 20,000 staff rail journeys between Norwich and London. It is key for our staff who need to travel to have a fast and reliable journey. Equally important is using this travelling time to best effect so an improved Wi-Fi signal and electric sockets is imperative. We appreciate the provision of faster services at 7.40 and 17.00 but would welcome additional services with similar journey times.”

Davina Tanner President Norfolk Chamber of Commerce and General Manager Chapelfield Shopping Centre
“In distance of miles we are close to the capital, we need high speed trains to maximise the opportunity of been so close to capital for continuing growth for Norfolk and Suffolk economy”

Paul Clarke Regional Office Partner Bidwells 
“ We need an improved rail link to London to attract investment into Norfolk.  Far too many times private investors are put off the journey time to get here because of the poor service we have.  It’s a perception of investors unfortunately but without a regular uprated service (even something akin to what we had a few years ago would help) my firm finds it very difficult to come north from Ipswich.  I think even Government believes that we are out of the main stream in a cul-de-sac called Norfolk.  We do have a lot to offer but unless we get better connected to our financial capital we will continue to be marginalised”.

Phil Harris,Managing DirectorNorcom Technology Limited
Whilst it is important the main line to London is well maintained it is also very important to consider the rural lines (Cromer, Sheringham, North Walsham, Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft etc) as without this infastructure people will not be able to get to Norwich for the mainline trains and will make other arrangements instead.

Jeanette Wheeler, Partner, Birketts LLP
“As a successful legal practice with 4 offices and more than 400 staff in the Eastern region, faster and better rail links to London and the rest of the country are vital to our future as a business and of the businesses we serve. We need rail improvements to improve the potential for us to access clients and customers outside of the region and compete more more effectively. We must not be viewed as an outpost any longer. We must be allowed to benefit fully from the energy sector, biosciences and other opportunities which this region has the potential to grow"

Richard Marks,MD John Lewis. Norwich
' Opening up communication links to the region is key to the success of business - we invested £ 7 million in John Lewis Norwich in 2011 and are supportive of initiatives to improve accessibility to the region and help the local enconomy to thrive '

Robert Todd  Partner  Feilden+Mawson Architects LLP
“The East does not need High Speed rail at massive investment.  A modest improvement in speed can be achieved at a modest investment, resulting in massive benefits to all businesses in the East.

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