£13 million investment in West Norfolk rail link upgrade announced
A multi-million pound funding package, which MPs hope will bring a major upgrade of West Norfolk's rail link a step closer, has been announced this afternoon.
Ministers have approved a £13.1 million investment in the Ely Area Capacity Enhancement programme, which aims to open a key bottleneck on the region's network.
The move comes as Network Rail prepares to launch a new consultation on potential options for the scheme, which is seen as essential to enabling twice-hourly trains to run between Lynn and London.
News of the funding was confirmed in a letter from the Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, to the North West Norfolk MP James Wild, which has been released this afternoon.
The letter said the money would be used to "progress the development of an outline business case" for the project.
It went on: "The Department for Transport will now lead this work with Network Rail, ensuring that other interested parties such as the Ely Taskforce Group are consulted.
"The Outline Business Case will consider options for intervention and serve to provide detailed analysis of the project’s costs, benefits, and value for money, as a basis for further decisions."
Network Rail has already outlined plans to launch a remote consultation on the scheme next month.
And Mr Wild said: "This is an important step in delivering improvements to unlock more regular services between Lynn, Cambridge, and London.
"Improving capacity at this bottleneck will bring benefits to existing passengers and businesses as well as attract new investment to drive long-term growth in the local area.”
South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss added that the announcement was "great news."
She said: "Despite the considerable challenges of the last few months, work has been progressing to develop the scheme."
The announcement also comes as work continues on a £27 million scheme to enable eight-coach trains to run between Lynn and Cambridge, instead of the current four-coach units.
Buses will replace trains between Lynn and Downham from Friday until Monday as work on the scheme continues. The Tennyson Avenue level crossing in Lynn will also be closed.