MPs and rail officials to meet with transport secretary to make the case for Ely North junction upgrade
- Credit: Ian Burt
Campaigners will speak to the transport secretary to press the case for a multi-million pound investment on a bottleneck railway junction.
South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss will lead a group meeting with Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, to discuss the benefits of upgrading Ely North junction.
It is hoped the meeting tomorrow (Wednesday, October 11) in the Depeartment for Transport will ensure the project remains a key priority.
Speaking ahead of the meeting, Ms Truss said: 'Ely North rail junction is a key priority for me and I have long campaigned to secure the investment and upgrade of it.
'The meeting this week with the Transport Secretary is to demonstrate the substantial support for the upgrade and the significant benefits this will bring.
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'The eastern region is host to a dynamic and vibrant business environment; I want to ensure we have the infrastructure in place to drive future economic growth and prosperity.'
Ms Truss will be joined by MPs Sir Henry Bellingham, Lucy Frazer and George Freeman, local enterprise partnerships (LEPs), freight and passenger train operators as well as West Norfolk council chief executive Ray Harding.
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Mr Bellingham said the meeting will ensure an ongoing relationship with the transport secretary, adding: 'This is very much an important meeting in order for this project to progress.
'It is going to be pivotal in unlocking some of the work that needs doing on the line and modernising the infrastructure to make it fit for purpose.'
Improvements to the junction could bring increased services on a number of routes across the region, including half-hourly trains between King's Lynn and London.
In a rail summit earlier this year, chaired by Ms Truss, it was agreed that a feasibility study into what was described as a 'complex scheme' would cost £8.8m.
The study could be completed as early as spring next year.
Officials said if the project is successful in securing funding then work could begin in three years time.
In 2015, improvements to the junction were estimated at £35m - which Network Rail now believes will cost considerably more - and work was due to start this year.
But after failing to gain additional funding the project was pushed back to 2019 when the next round of funding begins for major rail projects.
Economic boost and increased services
An assessment made by Norfolk County Council said improvements to Ely North junction could boost the region's economy by £220m.
It is hoped the upgrade would ease the bottleneck junction at Queen Adelaide and provide more frequent services.
An average of six trains pass through the junction every hour, on the following routes:
• Norwich to Cambridge, currently hourly service.
• Norwich to Liverpool via Peterborough, hourly.
• Ipswich to Peterborough, two hourly.
• King's Lynn to London, half hourly at peak times, hourly at other times.
• Birmingham to Stansted, hourly.
• Freight services from Felixstowe and King's Lynn.
• Wisbech to Cambridge where the track is in place and available to reopen.