Ely North Junction included in £9bn rail boost, giving the green light for half-hourly services between King’s Lynn and London
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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.
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.”