Mayor urges new transport team to revoke Ely North ‘mistake’

Mayor James Palmer has urged new transport team to revoke Ely North mistake. Picture: ARCHANT

Mayor James Palmer has urged new transport team to revoke Ely North mistake. Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

Transport ministers have been warned by Mayor James Palmer that work on major infrastructure projects in the region could be at risk if improvements to North Ely junction are not prioritised.

The mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough wrote to Transport Minister Chris Heaton-Harris to express his "grave concern" on the Department for Transport (DfT) decision to cap spending.

It means that Ely North will be dropped down the agenda "threatening growth and development of passenger and freight travel across the region".

Mr Heaton-Harris replied "there is no quick or easy solution to unlocking all of the constraints in the area" and that any full programme of works would require "significant funding" and run into the DfT's next funding period.

However, he thanked Mayor Palmer for the work the combined authority is doing with partners to build a business case for enhancing Ely North.

He said it would "maximise the likelihood of a positive funding decision" in Spring 2020.

Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough James Palmer, said:

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"I've said that decision to drop Ely North down the Department's to-do list was a mistake and I urged the new transport team to reconsider it.

"It is a massive let-down for this region to be passed over for quicker and easier fixes elsewhere.

"This bottleneck savagely restricts growth here and just putting off the work won't get it done.

"I won't give up pressing for urgent action on this, but it is heartening that the minister responds positively to my call for funding."

If Ely North is brought up to scratch then speedier and more frequent Fenland services could benefit the area.

The busy junction sees five railway lines converge to connect Norwich and King's Lynn to Cambridge, Cambridge to London and Ipswich to the Midlands.

The bottleneck serves both passenger and freight lines, with trains having to slow down and to wait for others to pass, causing congestion.

Working on plans with the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, the combined authority has already committed £8.5 million to identify options for increasing flow through the Ely bottleneck.

The mayor says the delay at government level "threatens to junk hard work already done locally".