Giles Watling, MP for Clacton, has questioned the Prime Minister on rail links to the Clacton constituency.
During Prime Minister’s Questions on 12th September, Giles said:
“My constituency is a mere 69 miles from London, as I am sure my right hon. Friend remembers from her visit a few years ago. You are lucky to cover that tiny journey in an hour and 40 minutes, and that is if you avoid the Network Rail works. Our sunshine coast has a lot to offer economically, a lot of which remains untapped. We could attract new homeowners, doctors and businesses to the area. Can my right hon. Friend tell me what this Government are doing to improve our rail services and speed up the journey to Clacton?”
During her response, the Prime Minister set out that:
“On the issue of rail, Greater Anglia will indeed be introducing a whole new fleet of trains, which will be delivered from the middle of next year. They will be state of the art, with much improved acceleration, my hon. Friend will be pleased to hear. Greater Anglia needs to work with Network Rail to ensure that it can deliver those improved journey times. There are infrastructure constraints on the line, but we will engage with Network Rail to understand what plans it has to renew the infrastructure, so that we can see the improvement on the Clacton branch that my hon. Friend wants to see.”
Since his election last year, Giles has been campaigning hard to improve journey times by rail from the Clacton constituency to London, and has spoken on this issue several times in Parliament. During a speech in Westminster Hall on this issue on 25th April, Giles said:
“Without more investment in transport infrastructure around Clacton, we will limit the incentive for people to move to and commute from our glorious sunshine coast. That would harm the economic potential of my district and would restrain the prosperity of hard-working local residents: an outcome that is not acceptable to me or my residents.
“That is why I have continued to push for what I call my 70 in 60 campaign at every opportunity, which has the ultimate aim of ensuring that the people of Clacton are able to cover the 70 miles—that is all it is—to London in 60 minutes. That is not unthinkable. It is not even illegal.”
Following Prime Minister’s Questions, Giles said:
“It is a priority for me to improve the roads and rails going in to Clacton, and I know that many local residents also want to see positive change. For their part, Greater Anglia are doing their bit by providing new rolling stock, but we as a Government must do more to improve our infrastructure – we cannot develop a strong economy without good infrastructure.
“I will continue to campaign on this issue so that the constraints highlighted by the Prime Minister in her answer are removed.”