Work to ease a key rail bottleneck could begin in 2014, it was announdced today. Ministers have included work to dual Ely North Junction in a £9bn package of investment in Britain’s railways.

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Improvements announced today

The full £9.4bn programme of improvements to the rail network published today includes £5.2bn of projects already committed to between 2014 and 2019.

New schemes totalling £4.2bn unveiled: upgrades to stations and tracks creating enough capacity around cities for an additional 140,000 daily rail commutes at peak times.

A £350m lengthening of platforms at London Waterloo station to provide capacity for 120,000 more daily commutes in and out of London.

Faster journeys and more train capacity with £240m of improvements along the East Coast Main Line from the North East through Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire to London.

Creating a high-capacity ‘electric spine’ from Yorkshire and the West Midlands to South Coast ports in an £800m electrification and upgrade from Sheffield - through Nottingham, Derby and Leicester to Bedford, completing electrification of the Midland Main Line out of London St Pancras; and electrification of the lines from Nuneaton and Bedford to Oxford, Reading, Basingstoke and Southampton.

Taking electric rail beyond Cardiff to Swansea, completing electrification of the Great Western Main Line out of London Paddington at a total cost of more than £600m.

Completion of the “Northern Hub” cluster of rail enhancements with the approval of £322m of track and capacity upgrades across Manchester city centre, Manchester Airport and across to Liverpool.

A new £500m rail link between the Great Western Main Line and Heathrow allowing direct services to the airport from the West Country, the Thames Valley and Wales.

A £25m dualling scheme at Ely North Junction would allow half-hourly trains between King’s Lynn and London and speed up passenger and freight services across the rest of the region.

Launching what had been trailled as the largest investment in the railways in a century today, Transport Secretary Justine Greening said: “Investment on this scale, in every region of the country, shows how this coalition government is focused on delivering an affordable, reliable and faster railway network that drives jobs and growth.

“These plans to increase capacity and shorten journey times on intercity, commuter and freight services are, alongside our plans for high speed rail, absolutely key to securing our country’s prosperity in the decades ahead.”

The schemes are included in government spending plans for 2014 - 19. Health Minister Andrew Lansley and SW Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss formally announced the East Anglian component at Ely station this morning. Mr Lansley said work to re-design the junction could begin almost imediately.

He said easing the bottleneck would enable the rest of East Anglia to benefit from economic growth and the boom in hi-tech industries around Cambridge.

“If you want growth in the economy, you have to invest in success,” he said. “And Cambridge is a success.

“There’s a strong technological connection between Cambridge and Norwich. When you look at East Anglia, you have some great technology for the future and we have to invest in that.”

South West Norfolk Elizabeth Truss said while the work meant trains would be able to run half-hourly between King’s Lynn and London, and Norwich and Cambridge, the extra services needed to be specified in the franchise agreement governing whichever company ends up running trains on the routes after autumn 2013.

Now that government funding had been secured for Ely North, she said the priority would be the electrification of the Cambridge - Norwich line, an as yet unexplored and uncosted option.

“If you look at how electrification drove traffic on the Fen line that’s what we need on the Norwich to Cambridge line,” she said.

Ruud Haket, managing director of train company Greater Anglia, said: “We welcome the news that Ely North Junction is being improved to pave the way for more frequent train services.

“It is important that all of us who care about the region’s railways and its wider prosperity continue to make the compelling case for rail investment in East Anglia, building on the tremendous news about the improvements for Ely Junction.”

Earlier, Norwich North MP Chloe Smith said: “The campaign continues to secure accompanying longer term improvements on the other key lines through East Anglia, such as the Norwich-London mainline. “We speak with one voice across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex for improvements in addition to Ely North, which will gain us faster journey times, better quality trains, more reliable services and decent infrastructure.”

11 comments

  • Interesting comment from ms Truss re: electrifying the Norwich-Cambridge line. Electric trains accelerate quicker and are more efficient so should improve the services on that line, should the idea progress into something more substantial. Daisy Roots, I agree with most of what you're saying. More up-to-date safety measures are needed for unmanned crossings that are relied on by rural communities but all trains operate with their headlights permanently switched on and the front of trains are painted bright yellow. Maybe flashing lights is the next step but I don't think there is much more that can be done in respect to making trains more visible. Safer crossing systems is probably the way forward.

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    CovCanary

    Monday, July 16, 2012

  • This is all very well but until the swing bridge outside Norwich station is upgraded back to dual track nothing will improve the situation. Its the bridge, stupid!

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    eagleye

    Monday, July 16, 2012

  • Not helping Norwich, Yarmouth, Sheringham, Cromer and Lowestoft much without a new bridge at Norwich. Perhaps the EDP should turn down the hype and support the east more.

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    Port Watcher

    Monday, July 16, 2012

  • This is good news. Now is the time for Network Rail to invest in safer unmanned crossings for residents and farms in West Norfolk and the Fens. The recent calls from organisations representing rail workers for the unmanned crossings to be closed were unnecessary and did not consider that some farmland and some houses cannot be reached other than by using unmanned crossings, simply because of their position relative to the rails and the rivers. In other places if unmanned crossings are closed the result would be long detours for the people affected. More effective safety measures have to be part of this upgrade and a good start would be brighter flashing lights on the front of locomotives. Combines and some tractor combis have to show flashing lights when on the road so it is not unreasonable to expect the trains to be made much more easy to see from a distance.

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    Daisy Roots

    Monday, July 16, 2012

  • Don't get too excited as it's years away and as I never use trains I couldn't care less.

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    John L Norton

    Monday, July 16, 2012

  • Daisy Roots suggestion that trains carry flashing lights obviously ignores the fact that all modern diesel and electric trains have been painted with yellow ends for improved visibility for decades. I would also suggest that she observe trains from a distance to see how bright the headlamps actually are with regards to how conspicuous an approaching train really is. Until the cause of the latest accident on a level crossing is published it is too early to say what or who was at fault. Whilst not specifically referring to this accident many of the others are caused by errors on the part of those who use them. The purpose of flashing lights on tractors and combines is to advise road users of a 'slow' moving vehicle and not the other way around.

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    Douglas McCoy

    Tuesday, July 17, 2012

  • This improvement at Ely is a good first step, it opens the way for an improved service to the Midlands and the North from Norwich once the line at Norwich is sorted out. Yes is may mean that some commuters move in, but it also provides the opportunity for existing Norfolk and Cambridgeshire residents to work further afield without moving to more expensive areas and will be an improvement for the business and leisure traveller. The region has been very poorly served for years, the great through trains-the "Boat" trains from Yarmouth to Liverpool and the Fenman from Lynn to London long ago replaced by piddling little trains with minimal facilities. The rail services put in place by operators in the Blair-Brown years don't exactly reflect the fact that this is a relatively affluent region with a growing population.

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    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, July 17, 2012

  • Let's also have a couple of trains every day direct from Norwich to London Kings Cross via Thetford, Ely, Cambridge and Stevenage.

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    JCW

    Monday, July 16, 2012

  • No improvement for the Norwich-Birmingham route then?

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    MrsP

    Monday, July 16, 2012

  • This announcement made today by Clegg and Cameron was done for no other reason than deflect criticism away from the conflict within this dire coalition government and the rotten state of the worsening situation within this bankrupt country.

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    Catton Man

    Monday, July 16, 2012

  • Just what are these economic benefits that MP's keep going on about? Surely they mean more people being able to move to the region who then commute to London or Cambridge. The result of that is in having high wage income people inflating house prices etc in this area. More local people who are on low wages then can't afford to own a home. Not sure how that is progress?

    Report this comment

    smithrob

    Monday, July 16, 2012

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