Will we finally see longer trains between King's Lynn and Cambridge?

PUBLISHED: 13:50 13 December 2018 | UPDATED: 13:50 13 December 2018

A Great Northern train leaves Downham Market Picture: Ian Burt

A Great Northern train leaves Downham Market Picture: Ian Burt

Travellers could soon be on track for longer trains between King's Lynn and Cambridge.

Longer platforms at Waterbeach and Littleport are needed, before the current four-carriage service can be upgraded to eight.

Trains also need to be fitted with selective door operating technology, as while the platform at Watlington is too short for eight carriages, it cannot be extended because of a nearby road.

New sidings will also be needed at King’s Lynn to acommodate longer trains.

Rail minister Andrew Jones will make a decision on whether to fund the work in February.

James Palmer, mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, has urged him to support the imrpovements.

“As someone who travels regularly on the service between Cambridge and Ely at peak times myself I can confirm how overcrowded the service gets,” he said.

“It really is unacceptable. To say that it’s standing room only would be an understatement. There is an extremely strong case for there to be eight-car trains between Cambridge and King’s Lynn at peak times.

“The population of Ely continues to grow at a significant rate as does the number of people commuting between Ely and Cambridge and Ely and London for that matter.

“When travelling between London and Ely often the journey to Cambridge can be somewhat civilized due to their being eight-car trains but it’s the onward journey beyond Cambridge, particularly to Ely where the overcrowding on the four-car trains can be intolerable.”

Richard Taylor, Network Rail’s head of strategic planning (Anglia) has written to Mr Palmer to update him on progress.

“Everyone at Network Rail appreciates the desire amongst residents, local representatives and our partners at Great Northern to see this scheme delivered,” he said.

“We know that peak trains on this line are overcrowded just now, and that extending trains would add much-needed capacity in advance of the broader plans for improvements in the Ely area.

“Earlier this year we explained to stakeholders that further design work and an access plan would be developed over the summer, and I’m pleased to confirm that good progress has been made in both areas. “This has included constructive discussions with operators, through which access to the railway to undertake work has been provisionally secured.

“We are pleased to announce that the Department for Transport has now authorised Network Rail to let a contract to our framework contractor Volker Fitzpatrick for detailed design on the scheme and this was awarded on Friday, November 16.”

Proposals to carry out the work were tabled last February, but funding was not approved.

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