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Consultation launched on bid to upgrade West Norfolk rail link

A consultation has been launched on how to tackle a critical bottleneck on West Norfolk's rail link.

Last month , the Government announced more than £13 million of funding to develop a business case for upgrading the network in the Ely area.

Now, Network Rail, the body responsible for maintaining and improving the tracks and infrastructure, is asking the public for its views on the plans.

The Ely north junction is a major bottleneck on the rail link serving West Norfolk (42335868)
The Ely north junction is a major bottleneck on the rail link serving West Norfolk (42335868)

A six-week consultation exercise, which is being undertaken by phone and online, began today.

Ellie Burrows, the company's Anglia route director, said: “It is important that we provide opportunities to engage with the communities that could be impacted by our work as it develops.

"It is even more important that we listen to people and gather their views to help inform our development and design process.

"By starting these discussions early, we hope to embark on this journey with the community and progress these proposals together, finding the right solution for the railway and for Ely.”

Rail passengers in West Norfolk can already expect a significant increase in capacity later this year, following the recent completion of a £29 million upgrade to the line, which will enable eight-coach trains to run instead of the current four-coach units.

The longer trains are expected to come into service in December, following a testing programme.

But the Ely capacity enhancement project is seen as crucial for a range of additional freight and passenger services across the region, including the long-sought twice-hourly trains between Lynn, Cambridge and London.

Network Rail says its plans would allow for 10 trains to run in each direction per hour.

Earlier this month , a senior West Norfolk Council official warned construction work was unlikely to begin for at least five years.

But supporters say the project could generate hundreds of millions of pounds in economic benefits for the region.

The consultation, which runs until November 1, is being run via the project website, www.networkrail.co.uk/ely.

People who want to find out more will be able to take part in webchats with project officials on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 4pm and Wednesdays from 2 to 8pm until October 1.

A dedicated consultation phone line is also available on 0800 1601780 until October 3. Lines will be open from 2 to 5pm on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 5 to 8pm on Wednesdays and 10am to 1pm on Saturdays.

Printed copies of the consultation materials can be requested by phoning 03457 114141 or emailing ElyAreaCapacity

General comments about the project can also be sent to that email address.

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