Members of Parliament from the eastern region will meet in Downham Market this week (Friday 27th January) to hold a rail summit on the upgrade of the Ely rail junction. Discussions will focus on the work required to improve road layout, level crossings and track upgrade in the Ely area. The rail junction is a key intersection serving both passenger and freight lines. Once the upgrade has taken place, the economic benefits have been calculated in excess of £0.5 billion. This week’s summit comes a year after South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss hosted a meeting calling for all organisations to work together to ensure the upgrade of Ely North rail junction takes place as soon as possible . The councils, LEPs, Network rail, freight and passenger train operators and Department for Transport all agreed to form a task force and work together on the scheme. The task force, led by Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council Chief Executive Ray Harding, will present the progress made so far at this week’s summit in Downham Market.
Elizabeth Truss MP, who has organised this week’s meeting in Downham Market, commented ‘After last year’s summit, a task force was formed and I know significant progress has been made in identifying the work required on the rail junction, level crossings and surrounding roads. Finance of the scheme has also been discussed and proposals will be presented to MPs this week. This is a key rail intersection in the eastern region, serving many freight and passenger routes, and once it is upgraded will allow for half hourly service on the Fen Line, improved services on the Thetford route, and will enable increased movement of the high value freight trains. This is a key priority for me and my fellow MPs so we are keen to see the upgrade take place as soon as possible.’
Attending the summit with Elizabeth will be Lucy Frazer MP, Jo Churchill MP, Sir Henry Bellingham MP, New Anglia LEP, Greater Cambridge and Peterborough LEP, Network Rail, Department for Transport, Councils and train and freight operators.
The following rail lines are served by the Ely Area
· Norwich to Thetford, Brandon and 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. Franchise commitment specified by government to deliver half hourly services throughout the day from May 2017.
· 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 Hendy Review, published on 25 November 2015, reviewed all of Network Rail’s programme of enhancement works, and re-scheduled the upgrade of the Ely North junction from Control Period 5 to Control Period 6 (2019-2024). The original cost for the works had been estimated at £35 million; however, Network Rail has acknowledged that this will be substantially more. This is due to complexities around level crossings, signalling, structures and the layout of Ely station.