Today’s announcement by the Secretary of State for Transport Justine Greening that the investment in the Ely North Junction will go ahead has been described by South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss as putting the East Anglia rail network ‘on the main line for future growth and prosperity’. Since entering parliament in 2010, Elizabeth has been a vocal campaigner for improvements on the Fen Line (kings Lynn to London) and the Cambridge to Norwich Line. The upgrade will enable a twice hourly service from King’s Lynn to King’s Cross, open up capacity on the Norwich to Cambridge line, and more frequent services from Ipswich to Peterborough. It will sustain rail freight on three local routes (Felixstowe-Nuneaton, Ipswich-Peterborough, and Norwich-Cambridge) as well as linking the high growth innovation clusters in Cambridge, Norwich and Ipswich. Funding for the scheme will come from Network Rail’s discretionary budget with the Department for Transport contributing to the cost. The preparatory woks are expected to commence straightaway with the main works being conducted in the control spend period 5 of 2014-2019. The upgrade is expected to cost £25 million.
Elizabeth Truss MP said today ‘I am absolutely delighted by this decision. Since entering parliament, this has been one of the projects I have been consistently pressing the government on. The investment in the Ely North Junction will be money well spent. Not only will it allow for the possibility of half hourly services, it will create fantastic new opportunities for job creation, housing, local residents and tourism. Over the past decade, there has been a marked lack of investment in infrastructure in the east, this has now changed. No longer will the region be shunted off into the sidings, the area is well and truly now on the main line for future growth and prosperity and I will press the Department for Transport for the works to commence as soon as possible. The dualling of the final section of the A11 started the momentum, now our rail networks will help drive the economic engine forward. We have the superb innovation clusters round Norwich and Cambridge, fabulous food and farming. The Brecks are developing a strong tourism brand, and from the Fens across to Thetford, South West Norfolk has hi-tech and engineering companies with a global presence all of which will benefit from today’s announcement. ‘
How the case was made for the upgrade of Ely North Junction.
In May 2011 Elizabeth raised the prospect of more frequent services on the Fen Line in a meeting with Richard Eccles, Director of Network and Strategy at Network Rail. It was at this meeting that Ely North Junction was identified as the main ‘bottle neck’ for the region’s rail routes. Network rail agreed to conduct investigations into the feasibility of upgrading the Ely North Junction.
In June 2011 in Transport Questions in the House of Commons, Elizabeth pressed the Transport Minister on the economic benefits of upgrading the railway line between Cambridge and Kings Lynn. Minister of State for Transport recognised the strong campaign by South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss for the upgrade of the Fenline rail link to Kings Lynn.
In July 2011 Elizabeth Truss MP, Steve Barclay MP, and Henry Bellingham MP, meet with Network Rail. NR announce that they would be presenting a full cost analysis by September 2011 for the possible provision of a half hourly service between Cambridge and Kings Lynn.
In December 2011 Elizabeth Truss MP and other Norfolk MPs, local councils and LEPs host a rail summit in Westminster. Elizabeth presented on potential improvements to the Kings Lynn to Kings Cross Line with the upgrade of the Ely North Junction.
25th January 2012 Elizabeth Truss MP hosts a Rail Summit with Network Rail, Department for Transport , County Councils and LEPs and rail providers. The meeting was attended by Members of Parliament from across the region. The summit focused on the benefits the upgrade of Ely North Junction will have on the three rail lines to Kings Lynn, Norwich and Peterborough and the significant opportunities that will be created throughout the region.
23 February 2012 Responding to Elizabeth Truss MP during Transport Questions in the House of Commons, Minister of State for Transport The Rt Hon Theresa Villiers MP said “I know the honourable lady is really a very strong campaigner for rail improvements on the lines that serve her constituency. This is something we are looking at carefully. We have asked Network Rail to do some important work on deciding how we might improve the frequency of services in the way she wishes, and whether the infrastructure needed to deliver that is within the budgets that have already been allocated to Network Rail.’
9 May 2012 In a meeting with The Secretary of State for Transport Justine Greening, she told Elizabeth Truss MP, George Freeman MP and Matthew Hancock MP of the ‘very timely intervention’ in relation to the upgrade of the Ely North Junction. The Secretary of State said that the Department for Transport plans to even out the rail spend across the whole of the country and that their request to present the case for the Ely North Upgrade was very timely as the DFT is taking a broader view especially with the Thames link consultation currently underway. The upgrade of Ely North will benefit the Kings Lynn, Ely to Norwich and Ely to Peterborough lines. There will also be benefits for the movement of freight transport. Currently the Ely North Junction is creating a bottleneck which is impacting on the economic growth of the area.
13 June 2012 Elizabeth Truss MP, Matthew Hancock MP and George Freeman MP presented a letter to the Secretary of State for Transport Justine Greening urging the Department for Transport to invest in the upgrade of the Ely North Junction which is a key ‘bottleneck’ in the Eastern Region. The DFT is currently in the final stages of presenting its plan for the Thameslink franchise.
2 July 2012 MPs from across the region launch the East Anglia Rail prospectus.
3 July 2012 Westminster Hall debate on East Anglia’s rail network
4 July 2012 MPs from across the region meet with Secretary of State for Transport, Justine Greening.
Double tracking the Ely North Junction
Double tracking the Ely North Junction is critical in order to specify half-hourly services in the Anglia and Thameslink franchise agreements.
Double tracking the Ely North Junction will enable improved services on the Cambridge – King’s Lynn line, and the Cambridge – Norwich line.
- There is currently a one train per hour service, which could be increased to two.
- As well as increasing the frequency of services on the current Anglia franchise, the upgrade would relieve the bottle neck on the current Thameslink franchise.
The extra service will relieve current congestion on the trains, and will help to alleviate congestion in the region that will result from population growth. It will also support economic growth with better regional inks.
- Fen Line use increased by 2% more than the national average increase in 2010/11. Downham Market has seen a 64% increase in usage since 2002/03 – an extra 160,000 passengers.
- Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, and Peterborough will grow by 189,830 homes by 2021. The congestion caused by such growth is estimated to cost £1 billion. East of England congestion already costs £720 million.
Enhancing local transport will enable regional growth. A report currently being produced is expected to say that even minor changes will have a large impact, similar to work done in Wales