Downham set to host key rail upgrade talks

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A rail summit will take place in Downham in the new year to discuss a key upgrade to the line linking West Norfolk with Cambridge and London.

Last month, Network Rail announced that work on multi-million pound improvements to the Ely North junction will now not start until at least 2019 and may not be completed until 2024.

MPs held talks with the company and Govia Thameslink, the parent company of Great Northern which runs most services to and from West Norfolk, at Ely last Friday.

And the new discussions, which will also include council and business leaders, are scheduled to take place in Downham on February 26.

South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss, who attended the Ely meeting, said: “During the meeting, it became apparent that work needs to take place to four level crossings around Ely and further surveys have to be done.

“What I am keen to ensure is that this happens as soon as possible so I have called for a round table discussion with the LEPs, council leaders and fellow MPs to see how this can be implemented sooner rather than later.

“East Anglia is a thriving and dynamic area of the UK and I am keen to see the rail infrastructure in place to support this growth and that residents in South West Norfolk can benefit from half hourly services on the King’s Lynn to London line.”

Matt Reeve, chairman of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “We are, of course frustrated, that vital improvements to the Ely North Junction are being delayed.

“We understand that safety is the ultimate priority. However, these improvements are a key part of our strategic infrastructure plan.

“We therefore look forward to a positive discussion in the new year to help move this scheme forward.”

Ms Truss added that the transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, had confirmed he would set out details of the planned works by the end of this week.

Network Rail has previously indicated that it plans to introduce eight carriage trains between Cambridge and Lynn during 2016, instead of the current four coach services.