Fresh hope for Ely North Junction rail upgrade

A round table meeting was held at Downham Market Town Hall to discuss the future of the Ely North Ju

A round table meeting was held at Downham Market Town Hall to discuss the future of the Ely North Junction with Network Rail - From left, MPs Liz Frazer, Stephen Barclay, Elizabeth Truss, Henry Bellingham and George Freeman. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Fresh hopes have been raised that a key upgrade of the Ely North junction can be brought forward, with MPs set to meet the Rail Minister next week to ask for funding towards a feasibility study.

Last year the £35m upgrade to the junction – which was set to start in 2016 and would have meant half-hourly services between Lynn and London and more trains between Norwich and the Midlands – were put back to at least 2019, when the next funding period starts.

MPs, councils and business leaders met yesterday to put pressure on Network Rail to bring the date forward.

Afterwards, South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss said: 'We want the upgrade to happen sooner and we will be putting the case for a contribution towards the £5m cost of a feasibility study from the Dept of Transport, when we meet Rail Minister Claire Perry on Tuesday.'

Sir Henry Bellingham, North-West Norfolk MP, hopes the feasibility study can be completed in just a year.

He said: 'This is an absolutely crucial investment as it will unlock a series of key improvements.'

And Steve Barclay, MP for North East Cambs, added it was essential the study was completed as quickly as possible.

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The meeting was also attended by George Freeman, MP for mid Norfolk, who said: 'The Ely junction is now the critical bottleneck holding back the vital Norwich to Cambridge to Stansted Innovation Line which could create thousands of jobs in rural Norfolk.'

Ray Harding, chief executive of West Norfolk Council, said the meeting had 'kick-started some much-needed momentum'.

A Network Rail spokesman said: 'We had a constructive meeting with key stakeholders to discuss options at Ely North Junction. We will work closely with stakeholders to work through options to unlock capacity on the route.'

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