With Peter Wilkinson, the Department for Transport’s franchising director

Residents have the chance to add their voice to my push for a better rail service across the district when a new contract is drawn up.

Consultation on the next East Anglia franchise, which includes the service between Ipswich and Peterborough taking in Manea, March and Whittlesey, opened this week and I am keen for the public to have their say.

I met with Peter Wilkinson, the Department for Transport’s franchising director, last week to discuss this area’s rail franchise, which is due to start from October next year.

Companies interested in running the services must tender for the contract and Mr Wilkinson told the me that public feedback would play a much greater role in shaping the franchise this time around than it traditionally has in the past.

I want to see Wisbech rail-line included and Mr Wilkinson advised the best way forward would be to open the mothballed line as part of a community rail scheme. I am set to have further meetings to discuss this option.

I’m also keen to see a late night service introduced together with trains stopping hourly at Manea.
A late night service would allow residents to enjoy the nightlife of Peterborough and Cambridge and would also provide a useful link to Stansted, allowing people to travel to the airport by train rather than car.

The fact Cambridgeshire is the fastest growing county, and North East Cambridgeshire has plans for plenty of new housing, means it is essential there is improved connectivity within the rail service.

The Anglia region has been a “Cinderella” railway, which he says is out of step with its contribution to the British economy, which is the second biggest in the country.

In a three-page letter to Mr Wilkinson, following the meeting, I outlined my hopes for the new franchise and added: “I am keen to ensure we deliver on your ambitious agenda for the Greater Anglia franchise.”

It is very important that local people add their voice and have their say on the rail service they want to see delivered in our area. Public feedback is going to play an important part in shaping the franchise and we need to ensure our views are heard.

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