Political and business leaders in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire have joined forces to urge the government to approve a multi-million upgrade of a key rail junction.
A new letter to the Department for Transport backing the proposed upgrade to the Ely north junction, which has been signed by MPs, council chiefs and enterprise officials, has been published this morning.
The move comes after a review of the entire national programme of rail network upgrades was announced by transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin in the summer.
The letter says: “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 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.”
The signatories of the letter are MPs Stephen Barclay, Henry Bellingham, Lucy Frazer and Elizabeth Truss, the leaders of Cambridgeshire County Council, East Cambridgeshire District Council and West Norfolk Council, plus Mark Reeve, the chairman of the Greater Cambridge and Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership.
Services which pass through the junction include those from Norwich to Cambridge, Norwich to Liverpool via Peterborough, Birmingham to Stansted Airport, via Peterborough and March and Ipswich to Peterborough, via Stowmarket, Bury St Edmunds and March.
The junction also serves the route from King’s Lynn to London, which is due to see half-hourly services introduced in 2017, and freight services to King’s Lynn and Felixstowe.