Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris visited sites across the East of England (6th August 2021) to see the extensive work undertaken by Network Rail and Greater Anglia to build back better and greener across the network.
The work, supported by the Department for Transport (DfT), has seen the number of train delays halved in Clacton and new ticket gates are helping to speed up journeys at Liverpool Street station.
A £37 million project, funded by DfT, to upgrade tracks, overhead lines and signalling in the Clacton area was completed in March this year. The new, modern tech replaces a decades-old system and is already delivering a better service for passengers, with time lost to delays in each direction cut by between a third and a half since work finished.
Greater Anglia’s biodiversity drive involves the train operator’s volunteer station adopters ramping up efforts to increase the level of flora and fauna and provide havens for wildlife next to the railway line across its network. This helps stations to become an even more valuable part of their communities, supporting the sustainable development and environmental health of their area.
The adopters now collectively manage such a large area – the equivalent of 5 Olympic-sized swimming pools – that Greater Anglia has pledged all 56 station gardens to the WildEast initiative, a local movement committed to returning 20% of East Anglia back to nature.
The train operator is also teaming up with Network Rail to cut emissions from vehicles waiting at its 800 level crossings, in its ‘Switch If Off’ campaign. Launched earlier in the summer, the campaign is also drawing on the resources of the region’s 6 community rail partnerships to help achieve its aim.
Rail Minister Chris Heaton Harris said: "We are working tirelessly to decarbonise transport. For rail that doesn’t just mean cutting the emissions of trains, it also means making the environment around our railways greener for everyone. By reducing delays, improving air quality and protecting the beautiful scenery around our railways, Greater Anglia, Network Rail and volunteers across the region are doing exceptional work to make services even better for passengers returning to the network."
Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia Managing Director, said: "Greater Anglia is committed to sustainability – including doing our bit to tackle climate change and improve biodiversity, which are 2 of the biggest threats to society at the moment. The railway is one of the most sustainable forms of transport available and, for us, sustainability is about everything we do, from new greener trains, encouraging biodiversity at stations and doing our best to support our local communities. We are very grateful to our amazing team of station adopters for the fantastic work they do to help us make their communities better and greener."
Ellie Burrows, Network Rail Route Director, said: "Over the last 16 months, we’ve continued to make improvements to the railway for passengers and freight. As people start to travel in greater numbers, this work means they’re returning to a network that’s more reliable than it was before the pandemic. The £37 million upgrade of new signals and track at Clacton has significantly improved train services on this line. It has reduced delays and improved the passenger experience. I know it’s important we build back greener, so we’re also using railway land to support biodiversity. We’ve been working with local charities to plant trees and other vegetation to create natural wildlife habitats around the Anglia route."