Hope grows for Ely junction rail cash

A Transport minister has given the strongest hint yet that the government will pay for a �25m rail upgrade to the Ely Junction.

Theresa Villiers made her comments after being lobbied by a series of Norfolk and Suffolk MPs at a House of Commons debate yesterday.

The junction has been identified as a 'bottleneck' which is slowing down rail services across East Anglia and hindering economic growth.

Ms Villiers said: 'I got the message loudly and clearly on the importance that honourable members attach to the Ely Junction.

'Later this month we'll publish our [investment programme] to cover what we want the rail industry to deliver in the 2014 to 2019 period. Some of the larger headline schemes are likely to be directly mentioned in the statement.'

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She added: 'I can assure you we'll be giving very careful consideration to the points made about the Ely Junction and other rail improvements talked about in the debate today.

'I should also mention that we anticipate that the [investment programme] statement is likely to contain certain general funding pots to be made available over the five year period, which could be used to support various different schemes around the country, including in East Anglia.'

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Her comments come the day after MPs joined with local government and business leaders to launch the East Anglian Rail Prospectus – a plan for transforming the region's rail network over the next two decades.

Upgrading Ely Junction is one early step the prospectus states is vital to developing the region's rail network into one which can support economic growth and an expected population expansion.

Yesterday's debate was attended by Norwich South MP Simon Wright, Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman, South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss, Broadland MP Keith Simpson, West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock, Central Suffolk MP Dan Poulter and was led by Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey.

Meanwhile the MPs will meet transport secretary Justine Greening today to further lobby for investment.

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