Upgrade To Rail Network Has Moved A Step Closer

A MULTI-MILLION pound upgrade to the rail network around Ely has moved a step closer. Transport giant Network Rail, announced that design work on an �18 million package of improvements would get underway in the coming weeks after it had announced that a

A MULTI-MILLION pound upgrade to the rail network around Ely has moved a step closer.

Transport giant Network Rail, announced that design work on an �18 million package of improvements would get underway in the coming weeks after it had announced that a partner to help plan the project had been secured.

The work, which could see two 775 metre rail loops built east of Ely Railway Station, forms part of a �53 million scheme that will improve the freight service between Felixstowe and Nuneaton in the West Midlands via Ely.

Around 750,000 lorries will be taken off the region's roads as a result of the work with a startling 74 per cent reduction in carbon emissions also promised.

Currently, Anglia's freight trains have to travel down the busy Great Eastern main line, through London and up the West Coast main line to reach the Midlands, North West and Scotland.

Andrew Munden, route director for Network Rail, said: "Rail can provide a cheaper, greener and more practical way of transporting freight compared with road. The investment we are planning in the East of England will ultimately take more than 2,000 lorry journeys off the road every day - that's around 750,000 a year by 2030."

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Network Rail and design partner Jacobs Engineering, will work on plans for the scheme during 2010 before work can begin in 2012. Completion has been targeted for 2014.

The news was greeted with a note of caution by district council leader Fred Brown who stressed the continued need for a Southern Bypass,

"News that Network Rail is moving forward with their plans to bring

more freight onto the railway line through Ely will have a significant impact on the city and the district.

"It is now anticipated that the number of freight trains passing through Ely on the strategic cross country freight route will increase up to 48 trains a day (by 2014) - a huge increase on the current numbers.

"With the changes expected to be completed in 2014, we have very little time before the crossing is closed for longer periods of

time, significantly increasing the gridlock in Ely. We will be seeking urgent meetings with our partners to work up practical solutions.

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