Network Rail has this month confirmed funding of £13.1m from the Department for Transport to progress the business case for the Ely Area Capacity Enhancement Programme. This builds on the £9.3m secured in 2017 from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the Strategic Freight Network to start the feasibility study on the Ely North rail junction. Once fully developed this critical rail infrastructure in East Anglia will allow for half hourly services on the Kings Lynn to London line, increased freight services and could see enhanced services on the Thetford route. A public consultation will commence in September, concluding 1 November 2020 https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/our-routes/anglia/ely-area-capacity-enhancement-scheme/ .
Earlier this year in Westminster Liz Truss and other local MPs met the Chancellor to make the case for investment in rail in the eastern region. Following a meeting with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury in July, the Rail Minister confirmed the funding to produce an outline business case in order to unlock funding for design and consents work.
Work is also continuing on the Fen Line to accommodate the eight car trains that will operate on the Kings Lynn/ Downham Market to London line. It is expected that the longer trains will be operational by the winter 2020/21.
Over this bank coming holiday weekend work will take place on a new siding at Kings Lynn as part of the capacity enhancement scheme with King's Lynn services starting/terminating at Downham Market. A bus replacement service will be running to Watlington and King’s Lynn.
Liz Truss MP said ‘ It is great news that the £13.1 million to develop the business case for the Ely Area programme has now been confirmed by the Department for Transport (DfT) and despite the considerable challenges of the last few months, work has been progressing to develop this scheme. I am also extremely pleased that construction is nearing completion to allow for the eight car trains to operate on the Fen Line. The £27 million invested by the DfT on this route will greatly increase capacity, significantly improve the travelling experience for regular commuters and will be a tremendous boost to the aspirations and business development opportunities in West Norfolk.’
Commenting on the funding announcement, North West Norfolk MP James Wild MP said:
“I’ve campaigned for better rail services for North West Norfolk and this is an important step in delivering improvements to unlock more regular services between Lynn, Cambridge, and London. Investing in rail connections is an important part of the government’s agenda to boost growth across the country. Improving capacity at this bottleneck will bring benefits to existing passengers and businesses as well as attract new investment to drive long-term growth in the local area.”