Local MPs have urged the government to prioritise improvements to two crucial railway junctions, in a bid to “realise the potential of the east of England’s international gateways”.

Waveney MP Peter Aldous and Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner, who together chair the East of England All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), have written to transport secretary Grant Shapps imploring him to give “special and urgent consideration” to investments at Ely Junction and Haughley Junction.

Ely Junction carries both the Norwich to Cambridge line and the East Midlands Railway route from Norwich to Liverpool via Peterborough, Nottingham, Sheffield and Manchester.

Haughley Junction, in Suffolk, meanwhile carries the Great Eastern mainline down to London Liverpool Street.

In their letter, Mr Aldous and Mr Zeichner, highlight the fact that the east of England is home to four international airports and 13 ports, including two freeports.

They point out that, as a result, half of the UK’s containerised goods are moved through the region with a combined value of £16bn.

Eastern Daily Press: Daniel Zeichner, Labour MP for CambridgeDaniel Zeichner, Labour MP for Cambridge (Image: UK Parliament)

They write: “Although there have been some capacity improvements on the Felixstowe Branch Line, capacity constraints around Ely and at Haughley Junction significantly limit the number of freight trains, adding more HGVs to the road and also forcing trains to travel to and from the Midlands via north London.”

The MPs specifically call for “a commitment to fund the next phase of development work for Ely Junction” and £20m of funding to Haughley Junction, “so improvement work can begin in 2023”.

The letter reads: “It is clear that without such critical investment in our transport networks, current challenges will worsen and prevent the region, and country, from reaching its full potential, environmentally, socially and economically.

Eastern Daily Press: A person has been hit by a train between Colchester and WithamA person has been hit by a train between Colchester and Witham (Image: Greater Anglia)

“As a significant contributor to the UK economy these investments would be good for UK plc as well as for businesses and communities in the East of England.

“They would also help the government deliver its ambitions to level up the country, achieve net zero, and drive global Britain forward whilst simultaneously increasing the East of England’s already net contribution to the Treasury.”

The APPG previously identified rail improvements at the two "bottlenecks" of Ely and Haughley as crucial to unlocking economic growth in the east, as part of a ‘roadmap’ on the region’s future it produced last year.