WEST NORFOLK: £25m railway upgrade plan confirmed
Rail campaigners and politicians have hailed confirmation of a multi-million pound upgrade to the line between West Norfolk and London.
Network Rail announced on Tuesday that an upgrade of the Ely north junction, which is expected to cost around £25 million to complete, will go ahead – though it could still be several years before it is completed.
Supporters of the project to dual the track at Ely have long argued that the project is needed to allow half-hourly trains to run to and from Lynn in order to meet growing passenger demand and help the local economy.
North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham said: “It’s extremely positive news.
“As Lynn moves forward and strives to welcome new investment, particularly in IT and high tech industries, the railway is a very key part of our infrastructure.”
Mr Bellingham’s South West Norfolk counterpart, Elizabeth Truss, added: “This is really excellent news.
“The investment will provide for greater frequency of trains on the Lynn to London Line, will help drive growth and will create more opportunities for jobs, housing and tourism.”
News of the upgrade was confirmed as part of a package of projects across the eastern region, which will see more than £2 billion spent on improving the rail network.
West Norfolk councillor Andy Tyler, who is secretary of the Fen Line Users’ Association, said: “I’m absolutely delighted with the news. Lynn to Cambridge and King’s Cross is a growing and successful line. The upgrade will be a great boost for passengers.”
The long-awaited annoucement of the upgrade follows a lengthy lobbying campaign to the government by the area’s MPs and rail groups.
Ms Truss said she would be continuing to lobby Network Rail to press the case for the Ely upgrade to be completed sooner rather than later.
Mr Tyler added: “Such projects regrettably do take time. It’s the nature of the system we have to adhere to.”
The current franchise to run passenger services between Lynn and London, operated by First Capital Connect, is due to expire later this year.
However, the arrangement is likely to be extended amid a review of how franchises are awarded in the wake of the West Coast main line furore.
Ministers have been urged to ensure that provision for half-hourly trains from Lynn is included in future franchise deals.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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