CHELMSFORD MP Simon Burns has been appointed as the Essex representative of the governments transport taskforce.

The taskforce will investigate improvements that could be made to both the road and rail network throughout the East of England.

His appointment comes after Priti Patel, MP for Witham, became the Treasury minister.

Mr Burns, a Tory, said he was delighted. He added: “As a former Transport Minister, I am particularly pleased to have been given this position because a lot of work needs to be done in Essex to enhance capacity on the Liverpool Street – Chelmsford – Ipswich line; to influence the tender document for the new franchise for the rail service from 2016; and to improve road infrastructure [which] hopefully, getting amongst other things, [means] the A12 [being] upgraded to a motorway.

“The Rail Taskforce is taking forward the important work of planning the strategic improvements needed to rail infrastructure and services in Essex and the East of England.

“It has successfully brought together all interested parties to pursue this project and as a result commitments to refresh rail rolling stock have already been made.”

Commenting, Priti Patel said: “I have been pleased to support commuters in Essex on the Taskforce, securing commitments to ensure that plans for faster services from Norwich do not have a negative impact on services from Essex into London.

“Commuters from Essex deserve to have more reliable services, cleaner carriages and better facilities, which has been my focus during my time as a Taskforce member."

"Simon will be an outstanding representative for Essex on the Taskforce. He has been a longstanding campaigner for rail improvements in Essex and his experience as a former Rail Minister will be a valuable asset in developing the final stages of the Taskforce's report."