CLACTON MP Giles Watling has pledged to improve reliability, reduce journey times, and attract new investment after being named as the new chairman of the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce.

The taskforce, which lobbies for improvements for the rail line and infrastructure, is a collaboration of MPs, business leaders, representatives from Network Rail and franchise holder Greater Anglia.

Mr Watling, who has previously called for improvement to cut the journey from London to Clacton to just 60 minutes, said he was "delighted" to become the taskforce's new chairman.

He said: “This is an important group, that I have worked with since my election in 2017.

"Improving rail infrastructure to my constituency, and across Essex, is one of my priorities and this is a great opportunity to improve the journeys for all residents.

“It is time to improve reliability, reduce journey times, and attract new investment. That will be my focus as chair of the taskforce.”

The group has already helped secure a £1.4billion of investment as part of Greater Anglia’s new franchise, which includes 1,040 new carriages across the network – the biggest single investment in new rolling stock in the UK since privatisation.

A report by the taskforce estimates the investment will bring £4.5billion in economic benefits, creating 48,000 jobs along the line.

Mr Watling succeeds Witham MP and Home Secretary Priti Patel as chairman of the group.

She said: “Giles has always been a committed supporter of the taskforce and I know that he will be brilliant at championing its work to secure key infrastructure enhancements on the mainline.

“I am proud of the work that has taken place during my time as chair to make a strong case for investment in our local rail network and I will maintain a close interest in the taskforce going forward as it updates its business case to secure funding through the RNEP process.”

The group said it's focus will now turns towards work to achieve further improvements, including holding Greater Anglia to account to deliver on the investments and commitments outlined in its new franchise and ensuring Network Rail delivers on planned investments.

It will also be campaigning for the main line to be used for the trial of digital signalling.