‘We will upgrade key junction on Norfolk lines’, rail chiefs insist despite review
Rail service chiefs have insisted they remain committed to a multi-million pound upgrade of the network serving Norfolk, despite a review of its programme.
Ministers announced yesterday that several projects in Network Rail’s £38.5 billion improvements programme were being delayed.
The news immediately triggered fears over the future of the project to improve the Ely north junction, a key bottleneck on the route from Lynn to the capital.
A review of the project is already underway, amid concerns over the potential implications of additional services on three level crossings to the north of the site. The study is expected to be completed this autumn.
But a Network Rail spokesman said today: “The intention is to do it in control period 5 (the current programme scheduled for completion in 2019).
Meanwhile, South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss has confirmed she will be meeting rail minister Claire Perry next month in order to press the business case for the scheme going ahead.
She said: “Along with my fellow MPs in the region we are keen to ensure the works progress as quickly as possible.
“The economic benefits to East Anglia are tremendous and this is the message I will make to the rail minister.”
The upgrade, which is expected to cost around £25 million to complete, would see the track effectively dualled at Ely, enabling additional services to run both north to south to serve King’s Lynn and Downham and on lines to Norwich, which run through Thetford.
A new stretch of track is also proposed to run between Ely and Soham.
The project is particularly vital to enable half-hourly trains to run between King’s Lynn and London King’s Cross, as provided for under the terms of the contract awarded to the current franchise holder Great Northern.
However, that arrangement, which was initially scheduled to come into force in 2017, is dependent on the work being completed first.
And campaign groups have already warned that increasing passenger demand in the region is outgrowing the existing infrastructure.