South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss has today welcomed the letter from the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, recognising the work done in the region to secure improvements to Ely North Rail Junction. Elizabeth has been campaigning for the upgrade of the Ely North rail junction and in February 2016 held a rail summit in Downham Market with MPs, councils, LEPs, Network Rail and the Department for Transport to progress the scheme. A commitment was given that funding would be found to progress the feasibility study. A taskforce was established to examine the changes required to update the rail junction. A key factor is that work will be needed on the level crossings and roads in the area in order for the rail junction to be upgraded.
Elizabeth commented ‘ I am very pleased the Transport Secretary has recognised the work done by MPs, councils, LEPs, Network Rail and the passenger / freight train operators in progressing the upgrade of the Ely rail junction. I am keen to demonstrate to the Transport Secretary the significant economic benefits that the upgrade will bring. Passenger and freight numbers are rising, the region is well placed to support vibrant and innovative industries. Last month I helped launch the Cambridge to Norwich Tech corridor which will attract businesses and start-ups to the Norfolk area including Kings Lynn and Downham Market. RAF Marham is being prepared for the most advanced fighter jet in the world, we have Lotus Cars, UEA, John Innes Centre – all globally recognised businesses. The port of Felixstowe distributing rail freight via Ely across the UK is another key factor in upgrading the junction. In the New Year I am holding a rail summit and the message to the Secretary of State for Transport will very much be this; the Ely Area enhancement programme will generate millions of pounds for the UK economy, will support jobs, drive forward investment and will be a fantastic boost for business and employment in the eastern region.’
Attached: Letter from the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling.
Below: Letter sent to the Chancellor in October 2016.
Sent: 17 October 2016 18:01
Rt. Hon Elizabeth Truss MP
Member of Parliament for South West Norfolk
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA
Westminster 0207 219 7151 / Thetford 01842 766155
Dear Philip – A key infrastructure project needed in the eastern region is the Ely Area Capacity Enhancement rail scheme. Members of Parliament from across Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire are in agreement that this is the number one scheme that will drive forward the economy.
A part of this scheme, Ely North Junction, had been scheduled to go ahead in CP5 but regrettably was postponed to CP6. This vital intersection serves a significant number of freight and passenger routes and the upgrade is critical in driving forward growth with the resultant boost to the local economy valued in excess of £0.5 billion. In order to increase capacity on freight and passenger routes in the Midlands and North, Network Rail has said investment in Ely Area Capacity Enhancement is vital.
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, 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. It is vital to meet all the aspirations of stakeholders across the region. We are therefore keen to see funds allocated to the development study as soon as possible. At a rail summit I held in February 2016 with MPs, local councils, Network Rail and the LEPs, assurances were given that potential pots of money could be found to support a feasibility study and we would be grateful if the Treasury could also look favourably on this project for the following reasons:
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, 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. An additional £262 million has been forecast with new jobs, business and housing that will be generated once the junction has been improved. These figures do not include the increase in services and the significant benefits that will come from an increase of services on the Stansted-Peterborough and Stansted-Cambridge-Norwich routes.
The Greater Cambridgeshire and Peterborough LEP has said upgrading the Ely Area 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 Area will not only be felt in the eastern region but across the whole of the UK.
In a letter to the Department for Transport in December 2015, the three LEPs in the eastern region highlighted the critical importance of Ely Area to the economy stating –‘Our three LEPs economies are worth more than £92 billion to UK plc. There are 1.9 million jobs and 158,000 businesses in our five counties. And our economic power matches our ambitions. Together we want to create over 200,000 jobs and 200,000 homes by 2026. But we are being held back … Ely North’.
With the budget due in November, we would be grateful if vital infrastructure like the Ely Area Improvements can be prioritised for Control Period 6, and funding made available to commence the feasibility study in Control Period 5 in order to ensure that this vital upgrade is delivered as soon as possible.
Elizabeth Truss MP
Lucy Frazer MP
Brandon Lewis MP
Sir Henry Bellingham MP
Matthew Hancock MP
Stephen Barclay MP
George Freeman MP
Peter Aldous MP
Stewart Jackson MP
Jo Churchill MP
Heidi Allen MP
Johnathan Djanogly MP
Ben Gummer MP
Dr Therese Coffey MP
Richard Bacon MP