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Date set for roundtable discussions to discuss delay to Ely North junction upgrade

PUBLISHED: 11:08 09 December 2015 | UPDATED: 11:08 09 December 2015

Flashback to earlier in the year. Elizabeth Truss and George Freeman at the Queen Adelaide level crossing close to the Ely North junction. Picture: Ian Burt

Flashback to earlier in the year. Elizabeth Truss and George Freeman at the Queen Adelaide level crossing close to the Ely North junction. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant © 2012

Business leaders, MPs and Network Rail will meet in the new year to discuss how improvement works at the Ely North rail junction can be brought forward.

The vital work to pave the way for twice-hourly trains between King’s Lynn and London and more services between Norwich and the Midlands were delayed by Network Rail last month.

The £35m upgrade to Ely North Junction – which was set to start in 2016 and would have meant half-hourly services between Lynn and London and more trains between Norwich and the Midlands – were put back to at least 2019, when the next funding period starts.

Members of Parliament and business leaders from across the eastern region will attend the roundtable discussions in Downham Market on February 26 to explore the options for upgrading the junction.

It comes after South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss met Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Trains in Ely to investigate the reasons why the planned upgrade of the junction was put back.

Following the publication of Network Rail chairman, Sir Peter Hendy’s review, Ms Truss, George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, and Lucy Frazer, MP for South East Cambridgeshire, met the Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin to highlight the importance of the junction to East Anglia.

And with estimated economic benefits of £200m, new jobs, businesses and housing, all dependant on the upgrade, the MPs are keen to see works start.

Ms Truss said: “During the meeting with Network Rail and Govia Thameslink it became apparent that work needs to take place to the four level crossings around Ely and further surveys have to be done.

“What I am keen to ensure is that this happens as soon as possible so I have called for a round table discussion with the LEPs, council leaders and fellow MPs to see how this can be implemented sooner rather than later.

“The Transport Secretary has also confirmed that he will write to MPs by the end of this week detailing Network Rail’s plans for future works.

“East Anglia is a thriving and dynamic area of the UK and I am keen to see the rail infrastructure in place to support this growth and that residents in South West Norfolk can benefit from half hourly services on the King’s Lynn to London line and more frequent trains on the Thetford route.”

Mark Pendlington, chairman of New Anglia LEP, said the Ely junction was a critical crossroads for connections to and from the east to the rest of the UK.

He added: “investment to upgrade the line is essential to unlock the growth potential of our key towns and cities and development of the important freight corridor.

“We are keen to see the improvements happen as soon as possible, as are the hundreds of businesses and commuters who travel through this vital junction every day.”

Mark Reeve, Greater Cambridge/ Greater Peterborough LEP chairman, said the upgrade would create new jobs by drawing out the growth of Cambridge further into Ely.

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