‘At the front of the queue’: Improvement plans at Ely North junction move forward with £8.8m LEP investment

PUBLISHED: 12:26 24 March 2017 | UPDATED: 15:46 24 March 2017

MPs Liz Truss (fourth right) and Lucy Frazer (third left) visited Ely Rail Station today (March 24) to mark an agreement to move forward work to improve rail services in the Ely area, including the Ely North junction. PHOTO: Seb Pearce

MPs Liz Truss (fourth right) and Lucy Frazer (third left) visited Ely Rail Station today (March 24) to mark an agreement to move forward work to improve rail services in the Ely area, including the Ely North junction. PHOTO: Seb Pearce

Archant

More than £8 million in funding has been agreed for a study which could bring forward work to ease the bottleneck at the Ely North junction by five years.

Rail lines served by the Ely Area

• Norwich to Thetford, Brandon and Cambridge - currently an 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. Franchise commitment specified by government to deliver half hourly services throughout the day from May 2017.

• Wisbech to Cambridge where the track is in place and available to reopen.

• Birmingham to Stansted, hourly

• Freight services from Felixstowe and King’s Lynn

The project will see the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the New Anglia LEP each chip in with £3.3 million of the £8.8 million put forward for technical and feasibility work to help ease congestion at the junction, which officials have said is “holding back the entire East Anglian economy.”

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.

The remaining £2.2 million in funding will be provided by the Strategic Freight Network, which funds improvements to services.

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.

“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.”

The area currently sees five railway lines converge at Queen Adelaide, with an average of six training passing through every hour, and calls have been made to significantly increase freight and passenger capacity to support local economic and housing growth.

Neil Darwin, chief executive of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP, said: “This is very much preparatory work to ensure that when the next control period – which is run by Network Rail – comes through, we are at the front of the queue for the significant funding we need for the work to happen.”

The funding was initially announced when Justice Secretary Ms Truss chaired a rail summit meeting at Downham Market town hall in January.

There Network Rail announced their hopes to increase the number of trains going through the junction from six to 11 an hour.

Other planned improvements include eight-carriage trains, platform expansions and level-crossing assessments.

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