On Wednesday 11 October 2017 South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss will lead a delegation of MPs and business leaders to meet the Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Chris Grayling. The meeting at the Department for Transport(DFT) is to ensure the Ely Rail Enhancement Programme remains a key priority for the DFT. Joining Elizabeth will be Sir Henry Bellingham MP, Lucy Frazer MP, George Freeman MP, New Anglia LEP Doug Field and Chris Starkie, Greater Cambridge and Peterborough LEP Mark Reeve, Fenline Users Association Colin Sampson, Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council Chief Executive Ray Harding, as well as freight and passenger train operators. The upgrade of Ely junction will allow for increased services on a number of key routes across the region.
Elizabeth Truss MP commented ahead of the meeting ‘Ely North rail junction is a key priority for me and I have long campaigned to secure the investment and upgrade of it. The meeting this week with the Transport Secretary is to demonstrate the substantial support for the upgrade and the significant benefits this will bring. The eastern region is host to a dynamic and vibrant business environment; I want to ensure we have the infrastructure in place to drive future economic growth and prosperity.’
The Ely North rail junction serves the following routes
· Norwich to Cambridge, currently hourly service
· Norwich to Liverpool via Peterborough, hourly
· Ipswich to Peterborough, two hourly
· King’s Lynn to London, half hourly at peak times, hourly at other times.
· Wisbech to Cambridge where the track is in place and available to reopen.
· Birmingham to Stansted, hourly
· Freight services from Felixstowe and King’s Lynn
The Port of Felixstowe is the biggest and busiest container port in the country, relying on rail links via Ely North to the Midlands and beyond. Freight traffic is forecast to more than double to 48 trains per day each way by 2019 and increase to 60 trains by 2024. Improvements are needed at Ely North Junction, the Felixstowe branch line and track between Ely and Soham – which was put on hold in 2015. These improvements will bring an additional £100 million to UK plc.
Norfolk County Council has assessed direct economic benefits once the upgrade has taken place as £220 million and this does not factor in new jobs, business and housing that will be generated once the junction has been improved. The Greater Cambridgeshire and Peterborough LEP has said upgrading the junction is their top priority and are working closely with New Anglia LEP and South East LEP to lobby for the investment. The science and innovation triangle rapidly developing between Norwich, Cambridge and Kings Lynn also relies on good road and rail links and delays to upgrading the Ely North junction will not only be felt in the eastern region but across the whole of the UK.