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Chance to have your say on ideas to expand West Norfolk rail links

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A public consultation on proposals to open a key bottleneck on West Norfolk's rail link is set to begin later this month.

Politicians, business leaders and passenger groups have spent years campaigning for improvements to the Ely North junction, which are seen as essential for more trains to run between Lynn and London.

But Network Rail, the body responsible for maintaining and improving the rail network, has today announced plans for a six-week consultation on the issue, beginning on October 18.

The process is part of the wider Ely Area Capacity Enhancement (EACE) programme, which saw consultations on potential upgrades to the south of the city carried out earlier this year.

Preferred options for the project are expected to be chosen in the new year, with further consultations planned for next summer.

It is hoped the scheme will finally be given the green signal to proceed in either late 2022 or early 2023.

Ellie Burrows, Network Rail's Anglia route director, said today: “This could be the most important stage of consultation yet as we present options that will be essential to releasing the capacity through the Ely North junction bottleneck and seeking to resolve challenges at key level crossings.

“We are continuing to engage with the wider Ely community on this important infrastructure project for the Anglia rail network to seek feedback from local residents, businesses and stakeholders.

“Their feedback will continue to inform our designs as we progress with this important project to find the right solutions for the railway and for Ely.”

Although full details of the options being considered have yet to be published, the company says the exercise will set out ideas for remodelling the track layout and nearby level crossings.

Road crossings in the Queen Adelaide area have proved a major stumbling block to progressing the project in the past.

Options will also be presented for the upgrading of 15 level crossings "in the wider area", as well as specific sites at Stonea and Waterbeach.

Officials say the expansion will provide a number of additional passenger services, including twice-hourly trains between Lynn and London King's Cross, plus extra freight capacity.

Rail Minister Chris Heaton Harris said: “This consultation is a perfect way for passengers to help create a network that works for them.

“We remain committed to improving rail capacity through Ely and urge passengers to use this opportunity to comment on the future of your railway."

The consultation will run from October 18 until November 28 via www.networkrail.co.uk/Ely.

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