December 12 2013 Latest news:
Annabelle Dickson, Political Editor
Saturday, September 7, 2013
Half-hourly train services between Norwich and Cambridge have moved a step closer with rail bosses starting to hammer out a detailed study which could make it a reality.
Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman this week met bosses at Network Rail – the company responsible for track upgrades – and was told they are starting work on a feasibility study.
It comes after Whitehall last year pledged £25 million to upgrade Ely Junction between 2014 and 2019 – a crucial step in allowing a twice-hourly service from King’s Lynn to King’s Cross and Norwich and Cambridge.
Mr Freeman said that he made the case for improvements to the service between Cambridge and Norwich, with the prospect of many people moving to the area with the growth of the Norwich Research Park – a point he said bosses were “hugely receptive to and encouraging on”.
He said that at the meeting Network Rail went through the pieces of work that needed to be done.
“There is a series of improvements, short and long-term,” he said.
“There are a few places where the train operator cannot run the trains at full speed, because of the track. There are level crossings that are slowing the whole thing down. Longer term, electrification and Trowse Bridge is an issue south of Norwich where the trains have to stop. If capacity goes up and we are half-hourly, then that will be a bottleneck and long-term this needs to be sorted.”
He added: “The fact they are prepared to commit a substantial resource to preparing a business case is a sign they are taking it seriously.”
A Network Rail spokesman said: “We enjoyed a productive meeting with Mr Freeman and will continue to work with him and his fellow MPs to identify future investment priorities for the region’s railway. We will be looking at the feasibility of increased services between Cambridge and Norwich as part of our future planning process.”
Mr Freeman has put together a manifesto for the Norwich to Cambridge route which forms part of the Rail Prospectus for East Anglia, created by a four-county alliance of political and industry leaders and co-ordinated by New Anglia, calling for improvements to the region’s trains over the next 20 years, which have been described as “not fit for purpose”.
He said that Network Rail praised the work of the alliance, which was putting the region on the map and helping to make “huge strides in terms of the innovation economy”.
“That is a very unique regional claim,” he added.