Rail boost for Diss

Diss could receive a share of a billion-pound boost to the region's economy if improvements to the rail network between Norwich and London became a reality.

Diss could receive a share of a billion-pound boost to the region's economy if improvements to the rail network between Norwich and London became a reality.

Plans have been submitted to the Department for Transport (DfT) by the Norwich in 90 campaign detailing its vision to improve railway lines in East Anglia.

Priorities include a quicker journey time between Norwich and London, improvements to the reliability of services and the introduction of new InterCity-style trains.

Initial findings by the group show the implementation of the mainline, would deliver benefits of at least �3.4bn over several decades.

Business leaders in Diss have welcomed the new report, which has boosted the campaign to shorten journeys between Diss and London to 75 minutes.

Jenna Cox, spokesman for the Diss Business Forum, said the rail improvements would bring more city workers to the town, which would benefit existing and future traders.

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'Certainly from the forum's position, it is a very good thing and can only be good for Diss and its economy. If we increase the population we are looking at quality new businesses discovering Diss for the first time because the customer base would be there and would be more likely to come to Diss.'

'It would attract quality businesses and one hopes a lot of the independents we keep talking about that would be so beneficial to Diss to create a real identity,' she said.

Chris Starkie, spokesman for Shaping Norfolk's Future, which is one of Norwich in 90's partners, along with Norfolk County Council, Norwich City Council, Regional Cities East and Norfolk Chamber of Commerce, said the move would really boost the county's economy.

'Improvements to the rail network would mean a lot of extra passenger revenue. There would be an increase in productivity because trains would not take so long, fewer cancellations and far-reaching economic benefits.

'There would be more people visiting here, more business and money would be generated with people not waiting around so much for trains. We are looking at �3.4bn over a 60-year period for the region. This can't happen overnight but long term this will mean a tremendous boost.'

The campaign, which is being backed by business leaders, politicians of all parties, and thousands of members of the travelling public, aims to secure a better deal for Norfolk's passengers.

As well as faster journey times, between Norwich, Diss, and the capital, it is also calling for a reduction in disruption caused by weekend engineering works, as well as improvements to the appearance and parking capacity of stations such as Great Yarmouth and Diss.

Network Rail is engaged in the process and has agreed to detail the cost implications of a range of upgrade possibilities to enable improved journey times.

More than 2,500 people have so far signed the Norwich in 90 petition online and on paper. Initial plans were submitted to the Department for Transport last week. People can still sign up to the online petition at www.gopetition.co.uk/petitions/norwich-in-ninety.