More than £8m agreed to fund Ely North Junction improvements
- Credit: IAN BURT
Funding has been agreed for a study which could bring forward work to ease a major rail bottleneck.
The Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the New Anglia LEP have agreed to chip in £3.3m each towards technical and feasibility work into improvements around the Ely north junction.
The study, carried out by Network Rail, will provide options for funders to increase rail capacity and provide improvements for both freight and passenger services from King's Cross to King's Lynn, Ipswich to Peterborough and Felixstowe to Nuneaton and beyond.
Campaigners say that it will unlock a significant barrier to economic growth in the region, by allowing mjore freight and passenger services to run on key routes.
The LEPs were approached for funding following the government's decision to defer work on additional capacity through Ely in 2015.
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A further £2.2m will be contributed towards the project by the government's Strategic Freight Network, which funds improvements to services.
The £8m investment will also fund a business case, to demonstrate the value of investment by government and other potential funders.
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Five railway lines presently converge at Queen Adelaide, two miles north of Ely, making it a very complex area to address in terms of improving traffic flow.
At the moment, an average of six trains pass through the area hourly with an additional service every two hours.
Elizabeth Truss, MP for South West Norfolk and a member of the Ely Area Taskforce, which has been campaigning for improvements to the junction, said: 'I am delighted that funding has now been confirmed by the LEPs for the preparatory work on the Ely North rail junction along with the adjacent roads and level crossings.
'Work can start on developing the scheme in a couple of weeks and will take 24 months to complete. This will then place the Ely Area Enhancement Project at the front of the queue for the next round of government funding.
'This is a key infrastructure project in the East that will provide a fantastic boost not only to the economy of South West Norfolk but the wider region as well.'