Multimillion pound upgrade to Ely Junction “will definitely go ahead”, says Norfolk MP
- Credit: Fiona Walker
Upgrades to bottleneck junction will 'definitely be going ahead', says a Norfolk MP.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling has given his commitment into making the Ely North junction upgrade a priority for the Department for Transport,
This could lead to the project jumping ahead of the queue in time for Control Period 6 - the next round of funding for major rail projects which begins in 2019.
South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss led a delegation of MPs and officials from local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) to see the minister today.
Speaking after the meeting, Ms Truss said: 'The transport secretary Chris Grayling agreed with us that the Ely Area Enhancement Programme is a priority and he wants to push ahead in Control Period 6 (CP6) with the upgrade.
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'This is fantastic news, we have been campaigning for years for this and it will definitely be going ahead.
'One of the key aspects is to ensure the scheme is properly costed by Network Rail and the LEPs agreed to provide every assistance with this. Once the costings are finalised this will determine when in CP6 work starts.
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'I am delighted that the transport secretary fully understood all the points we raised and that he has given this commitment today to see the work done in CP6 2019-2024.
'This will be an incredible boost to the region and the UK as a whole, investing in key infrastructure that will really transform rail travel in Norfolk.'
Chairman of the Fen Line Users Association and West Norfolk councillor Colin Sampson said: 'As things stand we will get that work done between 2019 and 2024.
'We need to keep the pressure from now on so that everybody realises we mean business.
'We have achieved everything at this stage that we could've wished for.'
The cost of the project will become known once an £8.8m feasibility study into the scheme has been completed within the next few months.
The study is being carried out by Network Rail to determine the design of the scheme and how much it will cost before it can be considered for funding.
The study is partly funded by Greater Cambridge/Peterborough and New Anglia LEPs, both contributing £3.3m each, with the remaining £2.2m provided by the Strategic Freight Network.
Doug Field, chairman of New Anglia LEP, said: 'We are delighted that the secretary of state has confirmed the case for improvements at Ely North is compelling and a priority for Government.
'It will bring huge improvements for passengers in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Also services connecting the UK's busiest container port at Felixstowe with the Midlands and the North will be greatly enhanced.
'This project will deliver jobs and economic growth for the East.'
The project had previously failed to gain additional funding in 2015 as officials had underestimated how much it would cost - calculating it at £35m.
Once the funding has been secured work could begin in 2020, bringing more frequent services including half-hourly trains between King's Lynn and London.