Rail summit on key Ely North junction agrees early lobbying of government is essential to secure funding
A rail summit called by South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss turned into a war cabinet on Friday when she and three other East Anglian MPs together to decide a plan of action to force the government’s hand over the Ely North rail junction.
The junction is pivatol to any major improvements to rail services across East Anglia including increased services between King’s Lynn and London and Norwich to Cambridge, as well as the re-opening of the Wisbech line.
The meeting heard work on Ely North junction could be included in the government’s next spending round, which runs from 2019 to 2024.
How to make the government cough up the cash to ensure the project is done “sooner rather than later” was top of the agenda.
Studies to determine how the work can be done are already underway and Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, said a design for the scheme, which was originally earmarked to be done between 2009 and 2014, will be ready by spring.
She said the delay had given Network Rail a chance to ensure a scheme that achieves the best for passenger and freight traffic.
George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, said the junction upgrade would clear a “blocked artery” and allow half-hourly trains between King’s Lynn and Cambridge.
Ms Truss said early meetings with the Department for Transport and the Chancellor were essential to try to ensure the scheme is included in the November budget adding lobbying will be key to success.
Meanwhile commuters from King’s Lynn to London will continue to face “cattle truck” conditions after North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham questioned the delay over introducing eight carriage trains.
He was told health and safety is to blame with platforms at Littlport and Waterbeach needing to be extended to allow the longer trains to run safely - that work should be finished early 2019 Ms Duymaz said.