A LONG awaited passing loop on the Braintree branch line could be built within the next ten years.
The so-called ‘Cressing Loop’ would allow two trains to pass each other on the single line- doubling the number of services going to and from Liverpool Street.
The scheme has been included as an option in a report by Network Rail on how to increase capacity on the Great Eastern Main Line between 2019 and 2024.
Witham MP Priti Patel said: “Over the next thirty years there will be a phenomenal level of growth in population and rail service demand from Essex.
“This study shows that a package of measures is needed to increase capacity to improve performance and the passing loop is a key piece of infrastructure investment that must be prioritised.
“The study is now out for consultation and I encourage rail users, businesses and stakeholders to lobby Network Rail and the Government to guarantee the funding for the passing loop.
“The passing loop is on the table and being considered, so we must now press for it to be delivered.”
Essex County Council also welcomed the report and said a passing loop north of Witham would improve journey times and add capacity on the line.
In a statement, the council said it wants to discuss options available at the Beaulieu Park development in Chelmsford- where a new station is planned- with Network Rail.
It also called for further measures to improve journey times to Stansted Airport by more than the two minutes suggested in the report.
The study predicts significant growth in demand for rail travel across Essex and County Hall has urged Network Rail to fund the development of its proposals as soon as possible.
Kevin Bentley, cabinet member for economic growth said: “This study illustrates the importance of Essex to the UK economy and the improvements specified will help boost economic growth.
“The planned improvements will reduce journey times and ease congestion across the network for all passengers.
“We will be working with Network Rail to investigate what can be done to further improve journey times to Stansted.”
Rodney Bass, cabinet member for infrastructure, said: “We have worked closely with Network Rail to identify improvements across the Anglia Route and look forward to ongoing collaboration to develop evidence bases for specific options for investment.”