A delegation presenting the economic and business case for the the Ely Area Enhancement Programme has been told the project is a ‘top priority’.
The Secretary of State for Transport Rt Hon Chris Grayling made the pledge at a meeting at Westminster. Among the delegates present were LEP Chairman Doug Field and Managing Director Chris Starkie, Elizabeth Truss MP, George Freeman MP, Sir Henry Bellingham MP, Jo Churchill MP, representatives from Greater Cambridge/Peterborough LEPs, freight and passenger train operators, Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council and Fenline Users Association.
The project, which is the first of its kind in the UK, will see both the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP and New Anglia LEP fund technical and feasibility work associated with the Ely area, including Ely North Junction. This study, carried out by Network Rail, will provide options for funders to increase rail capacity and provide improvements for both freight and passenger services from King’s Cross to King’s Lynn, Ipswich to Peterborough and Felixstowe to Nuneaton and beyond.
£2.2 million will be provided by the Strategic Freight Network, and £3.3 million each from the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP and New Anglia LEP, making the total partnership investment of £8.8 million. The investment will also fund Network Rail to complete a business case, to demonstrate the value of investment by government and other potential funders.
The Transport Secretary told the delegation he wanted to press on with the upgrade during Control Period 6 (CP6) which runs from 2019-2024.
Doug Field, Chairman of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We are delighted that the Secretary of State has confirmed the case for improvements at Ely North is compelling and a priority for Government. It will bring huge improvements for passengers in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Also services connecting the UK’s busiest container port at Felixstowe with the Midlands and the North will be greatly enhanced. This project will deliver jobs and economic growth for the East.”
Elizabeth Truss MP said: “This is fantastic news, we have been campaigning for years for this and it will definitely be going ahead. One of the key aspects is to ensure the scheme is properly costed by Network Rail and the LEPs agreed to provide every assistance with this. Once the costings are finalised this will determine when in CP6 work starts. I am delighted that the Transport Secretary fully understood all the points we raised and that he has given this commitment today to see the work done in CP6 2019-2024. This will be an incredible boost to the region and the UK as a whole, investing in key infrastructure that will really transform rail travel in Norfolk.”