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New consultation planned on key upgrade to West Norfolk rail link

A fresh consultation is set to be launched on how a crucial and long-sought upgrade of West Norfolk’s rail link might be achieved.

The new exercise by Network Rail to gather opinions on potential solutions to the lack of track capacity around Ely is expected to begin next month, according to a report by West Norfolk Council officials.

The development comes as services are set to be disrupted this weekend by work on a multi-million upgrade which will allow longer trains to run.

King's Lynn rail station (41225605)
King's Lynn rail station (41225605)

Members of West Norfolk Council’s regeneration and development panel are expected to receive an update on the rail network when they meet next Tuesday, September 1.

But a paper published ahead of that meeting said: “Network Rail are due to begin a consultation process in September on the Ely Area Capacity Enhancement scheme.”

Network Rail itself has not responded to a request for comment on the report.

Work on the new siding close to Lynn's railway station. Picture: Network Rail (41224911)
Work on the new siding close to Lynn's railway station. Picture: Network Rail (41224911)

However, the company’s website says a remote consultation exercise is due to begin on September 21 for six weeks.

Webchats and a dedicated consultation phone line are also being planned to operate from the start of the consultation period until early October.

Upgrading the line around Ely has long been seen as essential to enabling twice-hourly trains to run between Lynn, Cambridge and London.

But an earlier scheme to upgrade the city’s north junction was shelved following a 2016 review of Network Rail’s operations by Sir Peter Hendy, who is now its chairman.

The Network Rail webpage on the project said: “This has given us the opportunity to review the wider capacity constraints around Ely which also need to be considered in order to meet the aspirations to run more rail services.

“By taking a wider view of the area and what needs to be upgraded, the Ely area capacity enhancement programme provides the opportunity to deliver more capacity benefits than the original Ely north junction programme on its own.”

The development comes as passengers planning to travel by rail this bank holiday weekend are warned there will be no trains running between Lynn and Downham from Friday until bank holiday Monday because of engineering works.

The Tennyson Avenue level crossing in Lynn will also be shut to enable work to continue on a new siding which will house longer trains that are due to start running to and from Lynn later this year.

Eight-coach trains are due to come into service between Lynn and Cambridge from December, replacing the current four-coach units.

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