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Talks in Downham Market hear work to end East Anglia’s rail bottleneck at Ely could begin in three years’ time

PUBLISHED: 09:37 27 January 2017 | UPDATED: 13:39 27 January 2017

A train heading to King's Lynn along the Fen Line after passing the Ely North junction. Picture: Ian Burt

A train heading to King's Lynn along the Fen Line after passing the Ely North junction. Picture: Ian Burt

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MPs and officials met today to discuss upgrading a key junction in Cambridgeshire.

A meeting was held at Downham Market Town Hall to discuss the way forward for the railway line between King's Lynn and London. Pictured is Elizabeth Truss MP. Picture: Ian BurtA meeting was held at Downham Market Town Hall to discuss the way forward for the railway line between King's Lynn and London. Pictured is Elizabeth Truss MP. Picture: Ian Burt

They heard £8.8m had been set aside for a feasibility study into what Network Rail regards as a complex scheme.

Both the New Anglia and Greater Cambridge and Peterborough local enterprise partnerships have agreed to put £3.3m towards the work, while the Freight Network is contributing £2.2m.

South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss, who chaired today’s meeting, said: “This the key in fixing this junction. I want to do everything to make sure the project is ready for a chance of getting in early for control period 6.”

Control Period 6 is the next round of funding for major rail projects, which runs from 2020 - 2029.

She added: “We are competing with the rest of the country so we need to get ahead of the queue when there are other projects in the country.

“It is in all of our best interests to get this started and nail down the funding programme so network rail get cracking on with the job. It is complicated but infrastructure is absolutely necessary to get right.”

Improvements to Ely North were originally expected to cost £35m. But Network Rail now believes improvements to the junction, where the main north- south and east - west lines meet, will cost far more.

Experts say upgrading the Ely North junction would boost East Anglia’s economy by £500m and enable trains to run haslf-hourly between King’s Lynn and London.

Before the summit got under way, one MP said the region’s ageing rail network left people “cut off from opportunity”.Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman said: “Ely junction is the bottleneck holding back our entire East Anglian economy, forcing passengers and freight onto our congested roads by preventing rail expansion.

“Our area is home to some of the most exciting new companies, jobs and opportunities but an old-fashioned, fragmented and under-funded rail network is holding us back and leaving people cut off from the opportunities.

“our rail network is fundamental to spreading opportunity to all in the east. The Prime Minister is determined to build an economy that everyone has a chance in. We are committed to a new east - west rail link, but we need to clear the Ely junction to allow it to run.”
Improvements to the junction were originally expected to cost £35m.

Work was due to start this year. But a review published in 2015 postponed the upgrade for up to seven years.

Today’s summit comes a year after South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss hosted a meeting calling for all organisations to work together to ensure the upgrade takes place as soon as possible .

Councils, LEPs, Network rail, freight and passenger train operators and Department for Transport all agreed to form a task force and work together on the scheme.

2 comments

  • Today is a wonderful example of why this work needs to start now not in 3 years time. I hope the issues on the Norwich to London(via Ipswich) where brought to the attention of the meeting. I would love confirmation that Greater Anglia put extra carriages on the Norwich to Cambridge route to transport the extra passengers.

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    jennifer jane

    Friday, January 27, 2017

  • In infrastructure terms this is loose change but will make a massive difference even to the extent of providing an alternative route to London from Norwich. The postponement was scandalous but of course the photo opportunities for something like this are limited.

    Report this comment

    Green Ink from Tunbridge Wells

    Friday, January 27, 2017

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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