Our second railway station is now firmly on track with an agreed £218m funding package to complete the station at Beaulieu Park and a North East Bypass connecting the A12 at Boreham to the A131 at Great Leighs. This is the largest housing related infrastructure grant to be awarded in the country. It will mean fewer vehicles travelling into central Chelmsford and less overcrowding at Chelmsford station.
Chelmsford Commuters must get the real improvements we need. Chelmsford train users have suffered delays and overcrowding for many years. Chelmsford station is the busiest two platform station outside London. At the new station, fast trains will be able to overtake stopping services so more trains will be able to use the entire Great Eastern Main Line network into London Liverpool Street. A limit is in place so that no more than 2,500 homes can be built at Beaulieu and North East Chelmsford without the station.
Later this year and through 2020 we will see new trains and carriages through Chelmsford. This £1.5 billion project will significantly reduce the number of delays as old and obsolete trains and carriages regularly break down. They will also deliver a 40% increase in seats. There will be free high quality WiFi on all new and refurbished trains, and at every station.
Our campaign for Delay Repay 15 was successful. This will make it easier for train users to hold the train operators to account for delays and cancellations.
Improvements are also needed for our roads. I set up the Army and Navy Task Force which brings together representatives of the Parish, City and County Councils to deliver the long-term alternatives to the Army and Navy Flyover junction. Between £100 million and £250 million is to be invested in the improvements to the A12. This includes increasing to three lane capacity sections of the route between Chelmsford and Colchester – this will particularly assist areas between junction 19 (Chelmsford) and junction 25 (Marks Tey).
Potholes and damaged pavements are a significant issue in parts of Chelmsford. If you know of any area that is a particular concern, please do email me and I will raise it with Essex County Council. It would help if you can attach photographs.
Regarding the Army and Navy, the closure of the flyover is making travel extremely challenging. I know many people are facing very frustrating delays. Work to develop a long-term replacement is being accelerated. Before any new scheme can be built a robust process of design, environmental and other assessments and a public consultation is needed. Thanks to the work of the Army and Navy Task Force the first stages of this process are already completed. I have met the Secretary of State who agreed that this project should be treated as an urgent priority. The Minister has instructed officials to work on the long-term replacement at pace.
Regarding the existing flyover, safety must come first, and as engineers have now concluded that it must close permanently, I have called for it to be removed as soon as possible. This will shorten the timetable for building a long-term solution. This is a highly specialist project and work has already begun to secure a contractor.
New homes must be accompanied by new infrastructure. The new school at Beaulieu Park is set to be Essex’s first Through School, improvements are being delivered at the hospital including a new A&E “Emergency Village” and a new GP surgery is on its way. In addition, Chelmsford City Council has established a “Community Infrastructure Levy” which is paid by developers of new housing. The funds are used towards a wide variety of infrastructure projects including additional sports facilities, the “Family Hub” advice service, security improvements, and facilities for local charities and youth clubs.