This week Members of Parliament from Norfolk and Cambridgeshire met the Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin to discuss the upgrade of the Ely North rail Junction. The Hendy Review into Network Rail’s programme of works, published on 25 November 2015, has now scheduled the upgrade of the Ely North Junction in Control Period 6 (2019-2024). Previously the planned schedule of works to upgrade this key junction on the East Anglian rail network was due to start in the latter part of Control Period 5 in 2016/17. The meeting held in the House of Commons heard South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss, Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman and South East Cambridgeshire MP Lucy Frazer present the details to the Transport Secretary on why the half hourly services on the Kings Lynn line, the Norwich to Cambridge route and cross country passenger and freight services are so important to the region.
Elizabeth Truss MP commented after the meeting ‘I stressed the importance of the junction for jobs and growth in Norfolk. I want passengers and business to have certainty as soon as possible about when the half hourly service on the Kings Lynn to London line will be in place and when the junction will be upgraded. I am also keen to see the Thetford route benefit from more frequent services. That is why Ely North is such a key junction in East Anglian as once upgraded it will increase the capacity on a number of rail links. The Transport Secretary confirmed that he will write to us by the 10th December with this information.’
George Freeman MP said "The Ely North junction bottleneck is stopping half hourly services between Cambridge, Kings Lynn and Norwich, and faster freight links to Peterborough. Stations like Wymondham in Mid Norfolk could be part of the artery linking rural Norfolk with Norwich and Cambridge, attracting investment and new jobs to the area as well as easing pressure on our roads".
Notes to editors:
Sir Peter Hendy, Chairman of Network Rail, commented in the document ‘Network Rail is aware of the strong aspiration of the DFT and local user groups and MPs to see improvements to services on the Cambridge to Kings Lynn corridor as soon as practicable. In addition Network Rail is undertaking development on a scheme to allow the lengthening of peak time services on the Cambridge to Kings Lynn corridor from 4 – 8 car length to tackle overcrowding and will report back to Department for Transport on costs and programme for delivery in spring 2016.’ Hendy also said ‘that on the West Anglia Main Line WAML(Kings Lynn line) that ‘an increased frequency of service between some local WAML stations and Stratford- an approximate doubling in capacity and frequency at certain times of the day.’
The following services pass through Ely:
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. Franchise commitment specified by government to deliver half hourly services throughout the day from May 2017
Birmingham to Stansted, hourly
Freight services from Felixstowe and King’s Lynn.
The estimated direct benefit the upgrade for the junction will bring is £220 million. There will be even further benefits in terms of housing growth, new business attracted to the area, more jobs that have not been included in the figure of £220 million.
Work undertaken by Atkins for Norfolk County Council looked at the likely passenger demand for half hourly King’s Lynn services. This work found that there would likely be a good case for improved services with demand increasing by an average of 60%. An additional 2 million passengers were expected to use the service by 2026 from stations north of Cambridge.
Rail infrastructure improvements such as electrification and new passenger trains could also help to create additional line capacity north of Ely Station.