The long-awaited revamp of Ely junction has been confirmed by the government after prime minister Rishi Sunak scrapped plans for the northern leg of the HS2 rail line.

Mr Sunak said £36bn which would have been spent on the Birmingham to Manchester section of that route will be redirected elsewhere - with the Ely junction and the A10 between Ely and Cambridge just two of the projects to benefit.

Ely Standard: Ely North junctionEly North junction (Image: Archant)

There have long been calls for improvements to the Ely junction, so more freight and passenger services can run through what is currently a bottleneck on the rail network.

There had been concerns that the scheme would miss out on money after a transport minister said some projects would have to be "cancelled or indefinitely paused".

But after Mr Sunak's announcement over HS2 at the Conservative Party conference, the government confirmed where the billions will go instead - and named Ely as one of the schemes.

READ MORE: Ely rail junction improvements vital for Norfolk and Suffolk

Ely junction links five lines connecting Norwich, Ipswich, Cambridge, Peterborough and King’s Lynn.

But it is currently operating at full capacity, which limits the opportunity for growth of routes for passenger and cross-country freight services.

Under proposals put forward by Network Rail, capacity for freight trains would increase from 6.5 trains per hour to 10 – an increase of nearly a third.

This is the equivalent of taking 98,000 lorry journeys off the road every year, including across the Midlands and the north.

And it would double passenger services on the Ely to King’s Lynn and Ipswich to Peterborough routes.

An outline business case was submitted to the Department for Transport last year for the next stage of the design process - but it is only now that the money has been confirmed.

Ely Standard: Liz TrussLiz Truss

Norfolk and Suffolk MPs, including former prime minister and South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss, have campaigned for the improvements for years.

She said: "I welcome the news on the Ely North junction, which needs to be upgraded to deliver a half-hourly train service to Downham Market and King's Lynn.

"I have long campaigned for this and look forward to hearing about the delivery timetable."

Ely Standard: North West Norfolk MP James WildNorth West Norfolk MP James Wild (Image: Archant)

James Wild, North West Norfolk MP, who raised the Ely junction issue in Parliament last year, said: "This important scheme will unlock more passenger services to King's Lynn and extra freight trains across the region, delivering economic benefits."

In a statement, the partnership Transport East - made up of local councils, Local Enterprise Partnerships and businesses across Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex - welcomed the investment.

It said: "Investment in Ely junction will change the lives of so many people and businesses.

"It will reduce congestion, boost trade, level up communities right across the UK, increase passenger services and cut carbon emissions.

"We look forward to working with government to bring this forward as rapidly as possible."