If we’re serious about generating economic growth on a rebalanced economy, areas like East Anglia are vital in driving forward innovation and entrepreneurship.
For too long the eastern region rail network has endured under-investment despite a growing demand for more capacity.
When I talk to entrepreneurs in Norfolk, it is clear that job creation and their business development plans are being limited by the lack of rail services. That's why I have been pressing for improvements right across the region's rail network, and it’s why we have just launched the East Anglia rail prospectus.
The prospectus puts forward the case for a realistic and technically feasible programme of improvements between now and 2032. The plan will help unlock the full potential of our region's economic growth.
We will never build a 21st century economy on 19th century infrastructure, and our proposals are the first step to bringing us closer to a vision for releasing the investment, knowledge and talent of our region.
But we must go further.
We need to be bold in designing infrastructure models that are companies, not public-private partnership quangos or PFIs.
For too long large parts of the country have relied on central government to fund or co-fund infrastructure in a form every bit as corrosive as welfare. Why don’t we use this new focus on infrastructure as a springboard to create new models of investment?
I believe we should be looking at new models such as creating major regional rail companies with long-term franchises and the ownership of the land corridor and duty and powers to develop them, to raise the revenue to fund them.
We need truly radical ideas to get us out of our funding rut.
We need to free the public sector and local government and allow them, through frameworks such as rail bonds, to create major sustainable businesses of FTSE 100 standing that are capable of raising finance in the capital markets to invest in UK infrastructure and growth.
For more on my ideas on using rail as a driver in economic growth, click here.
George Freeman is the Conservative MP for Mid Norfolk