Politicians and business leaders from across the region today called on the Department for Transport(DFT) to press ahead with the upgrade of the Ely North Junction as soon as possible. In a letter to the Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin , council leaders, MPs and the Greater Cambridgeshire and Peterborough LEP urge the DFT to make the upgrade of the Ely North Junction a priority citing the significant economic benefits the upgrade will bring. The estimated direct benefit the upgrade for the junction 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.
At a cost of £35 million the upgrade of the Ely North had been schedule to start in 2016 with completion in 2017. However earlier in the summer the Department for Transport announced that all rail schemes are under review.
Elizabeth Truss MP said ‘The half hourly service on the Kings Lynn to London line is an absolute priority for the area. Businesses looking to invest along the route rely on good transport links and a frequent rail service enables the movement of staff, offers families the flexibility of where to live, what schools to choose, access to recreational and leisure activities. The franchise agreement commits to a half hourly service by May 2017 so it is important that the works are progressed. The economic boost to the region will be tremendous attracting significant inward investment. Last month at an employment event in Downham Market, businesses looking to invest in West Norfolk commented to me that the half hourly service on the Kings Lynn to London line will be pivotal in driving forward jobs and educational opportunities. In July this year with my colleagues Lucy Frazer MP and Henry Bellingham MP we met the Rail Minister Claire Perry to reiterate the importance of upgrading the junction and I will continue to work with political and business leaders in securing this as soon as possible.’
Henry Bellingham MP added 'This is a vital investment which represents superb value for money, and given that the business case for it has already been fully established, it needs to be given the green light now.'
Lucy Frazer MP “The upgrade work to the Ely North Junction is vital - businesses and residents alike will benefit from the investment. I do not want to see the timetable for completion slip because of this review and will be pressing Network Rail and the Minister, along with my colleagues, to ensure that the work is completed as planned. Rail projects like Ely North and the proposed building of Soham station are important to the local community.”
Steve Barclay MP “I share my colleagues’ views that this upgrade must happen as soon as possible and the significant economic benefits will be a much welcome boost to the growth of our region. Improved rail services has been a key priority of mine and the twice hourly service between King’s Lynn and London will benefit my constituents, particularly those in the Littleport area. The junction upgrade will also enable more freight to travel by rail and act as a further step forward in the delivery of the Wisbech to Cambridge Science Park rail service.”
Letter to the Secretary of State for Transport:
Rt. Hon Elizabeth Truss MP
Member of Parliament for South West Norfolk
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
Dear Secretary of State for Transport,
In March 2014 Network Rail announced that the upgrade of the Ely North Junction would take place in Control Period 5 (CP5), commencing 2016 with completion 2017. Working jointly with local councils, landowners and Department for Transport the scheme was already well progressed with plans to commence works at the end of this year. At a projected cost of £35 million, the government had committed £16 million to the scheme with the remainder coming from local councils, Network Rail and developer contributions.
In July this year the Department for Transport announced that a review of all works in CP5 would now take place. Ely North is a key junction on the East Anglian rail network which once the upgrade is completed will facilitate half hourly train services on the Downham Market and Thetford routes as well as improved cross country and freight services offering an economic boost of £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 £220 million figure. The upgrade will also facilitate the Wisbech to Cambridge Science Park line which is critical to the development of up to 10,000 new homes in and around Wisbech and the Ely Bypass is also one of Greater Cambridgeshire and Greater Peterborough LEP’s top priorities for delivery alongside the A14.
The following services pass through Ely North:
· 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 original target for the upgrade to be completed was 2017 however concerns have been raised that this timetable may not be met. With passenger numbers increasing and the economic boost that rail routes generate, we would be extremely grateful if this upgrade can be treated as a priority by the Department for Transport.
Elizabeth Truss MP
Henry Bellingham MP
Steve Barclay MP
Lucy Frazer MP
Cllr Nick Daubney, Leader Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council
Mark Reeve, Chairman of Greater Cambridgeshire and Greater Peterborough LEP
Cllr Steve Count, Leader Cambridgeshire County Council
Cllr James Palmer, Leader East Cambridgeshire District Council