West Norfolk Council leader slams rail upgrade delay

Incinerator costings press conference held by Henry Bellingham MP, Liz Truss MP and Nick Daubney the Leader of the Council. ENGANL00120140131161835
Incinerator costings press conference held by Henry Bellingham MP, Liz Truss MP and Nick Daubney the Leader of the Council. ENGANL00120140131161835
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The leader of West Norfolk Council has tonight hit out at the decision to put a key upgrade to the railway line linking the borough to Cambridge and London on hold.

It emerged last night that Network Rail had delayed the start of work on improvements to the Ely North junction until at least 2019.

Railway station. Library image.

Railway station. Library image.

The project is now set to be completed in the company’s next spending period, which runs from 2019 until 2024, following a review of the rail building programme led by the company’s new chairman, Sir Peter Hendy.

But, addressing the borough council’s meeting this evening, leader Nick Daubney said the borough should be “really angry” about the decision.

He said: “There’s a lot of pressure to grow and develop. I certainly encourage that. We want better paid jobs, high-tech jobs.

“This requires better infrastrucutre and I dont think it’s acceptable this keeps getting shoved down the line.

“I’ve been talking with colleagues today about how we can create some noise about this, because it’s too important.”

Earlier in the day, South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss led a delegation of MPs from the region at a meeting with the transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin.

Ahead of the meeting, she said: “The Hendy Review has recognised the importance of the Ely North rail junction to local MPs, councils and business. I want to see the upgrade as soon as possible.”

The upgrade has been seen as crucial to enabling half-hourly services to run on the line to and from Lynn.

Under the contract held by the current operator, Great Northern, half-hourly services are due to start in the spring of 2017.

Rail campaigners have suggested it would still be possible to run half-hourly trains without the upgraded junction being in place, but unlikely without the co-operation of other operators.