Standing room only forecast – so why build commuter settlements?

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And another excellent letter, also in the Essex County Standard:

Dear Sir,

I understand Network Rail is forecasting a 75% increase in peak hour demand  on the main Great Eastern railway line over the next 30 years.  This has major implications for development of Colchester and on any decision about the location of new housing.

Given that peak hour trains are already crowded and forecast to become more so, what would a 75% increase mean in practice? Would we need 75% more platforms at Liverpool Street Station and if so, how could 10 or more additional platforms be fitted in?   How would we find 75% more track capacity and 75% more car parking at local stations?  Smart signalling and other technology improvements may help to a degree, but the operational and engineering problems are complex and currently there is no realistic funded plan for solving them.

Colchester’s commuters will suffer because priority is being given (i) to Crossrail, which will improve suburban services over the existing tracks between Shenfield and Stratford; and (ii) to the “Norwich in 90” campaign which will prioritise high speed through trains. I think our commuters will be left sitting in sidings together with freight trains from Harwich and Felixstowe, as rail freight will continue to go to the Midlands via London because plans to divert freight to the North of Cambridge, have stalled,

To counteract Colchester and surrounding areas becoming more of a commuter oriented dormitory settlement, I believe we should have proper planning and concentrate on building housing for the local economy, not for London. In this context large scale development, such as the one mooted for Marks Tey, makes no sense and should be dropped.  We need a visionary plan which integrates housing, road, rail and other infrastructure and the generation of high value local jobs.

Yours,

N Mead