Cambridge station cash ‘will help West Norfolk too’, council chief says
A multi-million pound plan to develop a third station for Cambridge will boost the case for further upgrades of West Norfolk’s rail link, according to a council boss.
A £5 million investment in the Cambridge South project was announced in the autumn Budget on Wednesday afternoon.
The move comes only a couple of months after the opening of the Cambridge North station, and as work continues to enable longer trains to run on the route from there to Lynn.
And West Norfolk Council chief executive Ray Harding believes the plan could have wider benefits for the fight to improve services here too, including the ambition of running twice-hourly trains.
He said yesterday: “If anything, it strengthens the case for investment.
“It will lead to more commuter traffic switching from road to rail and therefore make half-hourly services even more important.”
The announcement also came as rail campaigners renewed demands for action to tackle congestion on the line serving Lynn, Watlington and Downham.
The warning was delivered at the annual general meeting of the Fen Line Users Association (FLUA) in Waterbeach on Saturday.
Although afternoon peak services from Cambridge were identified as a particular concern, group chairman Colin Sampson said: “There is serious overcrowding on the whole King’s Lynn-King’s Cross route.”
Treasurer Ken Hubbard said the association was also looking to encourage more people and organisations to work with it to secure improvements.
Both FLUA and the borough council, together with the King’s Lynn BID committee Discover King’s Lynn, have called for single track sections of the line that were downgraded to enable electrification work to take place in the 1980s, to be redualled, in addition to the project to increase capacity at the Ely north junction.
Although government ministers have insisted they want to see that project progress, a feasibility study looking at exactly what work is needed, and how much it will cost, has still to be completed and it will be 2019 at the earliest, when the next government spending round starts, before any work is done.
Meanwhile, eight-coach trains, instead of the current four unit services, are still expected to come into service on the Fen Line towards the end of next year.