Rail upgrade could be ‘disastrous’ for city

A MULTI-million pound upgrade to the rail network around Ely could be “disastrous” for the city according to South East Cambridgeshire MP, Jim Paice.

A MULTI-million pound upgrade to the rail network around Ely could be “disastrous” for the city according to South East Cambridgeshire MP, Jim Paice.

The minister for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told the Ely Standard that the upgrade could result in the level crossing at the station being closed for more than 40 minutes every hour, causing havoc for road users.

“There is no doubt that getting freight off our roads and onto the railways is a great thing,” Mr Paice said.

“ It will reduce our carbon footprint and ease the overcrowding on the A14 and so I welcome this news from Network Rail.

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“However, there is also no doubt that the impact upon access into Ely will be disastrous. The shutting of the crossing already creates jams, with cars stuck behind larger vehicles queuing to cross the railway line.

“These problems will simply be exacerbated if the crossing is shut for longer periods. I therefore urge all of our local councillors to fully support the county council in finding a solution for the sake of all who live and work in Ely.”

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Surveys carried out by the council this year found that the crossing barriers are down for an average of 20 minutes in every hour but that number could more than double within the next decade as a result of the upgrade to the railtrack around Ely.

More than �50 million is being spent by the Government on upgrading the rail line between Felixstowe in Suffolk and Nuneaton in Warwickshire and, as part of the plans, two 775m loops track around the city will be upgraded to cope with the increased volume of traffic.

Council leader Fred Brown, said: “The upgrading of the railway line will take a significant amount of freight off our roads which is the only realistic way forward, however, we hope it won’t create more problems than it solves.

“Clearly more trains will mean the A142 crossing at the Railway Station in Ely will be closed even longer during peak hours.”

Work on the freight upgrade, which Network Rail says will take 750,000 lorries off the region’s roads by 2030, is expected to be complete by 2014.

Plans to ease the problem at the station by building a bypass have had to be halted in recent months by ECDC, which has struggled to attract support and the �10 million worth of funding required for the proposals.

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