Train operators urged to improve services across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough by Mayor James Palmer

PUBLISHED: 11:31 21 May 2018 | UPDATED: 11:33 21 May 2018

James Palmer with Richard Gibson, head of communications, CrossCountry Trains

James Palmer with Richard Gibson, head of communications, CrossCountry Trains

Archant

Mayor James Palmer has met with train operators to challenge them to ‘expand and improve’ rail services across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.

James Palmer with, left, Jonathan Denby, head of corporate affairs, Abellio Greater Anglia, and, right, George Robinson, head of policy and communications, Abellio Greater AngliaJames Palmer with, left, Jonathan Denby, head of corporate affairs, Abellio Greater Anglia, and, right, George Robinson, head of policy and communications, Abellio Greater Anglia

Last week he met representatives from Greater Anglia and CrossCountry Trains, to press for much-needed additional services to stations as well as asking for support for plans to reopen Soham station and to deliver an interim station at Cambridge South, both by 2021.

It was announced that Greater Anglia was advancing plans to make services on the Ipswich to Peterborough route run hourly instead of two-hourly, which includes stops along the line at Ely, Manea, March and Whittlesea.

Mayor Palmer said he also wanted to see improved evening services, particularly in the Fens area, so people could use a train to return home after a night out in Cambridge or Peterborough.

Greater Anglia said they would ‘investigate’ putting on later trains and was ambitious for its franchise generally, also agreeing that they would welcome stopping trains at a new Soham station.

Key to the expansion of services is Greater Anglia’s soon-to-launch new fleet of trains with extra carriages, as well as works on rail infrastructure at Ely.

The new fleet is expected to start to enter service from summer 2019, and it is hoped those extra hourly services can be added to the timetable from 2020, with support from Network Rail.

Mayor Palmer said: “Train operators are clearly absolutely crucial in improving transport across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and I expect them to do everything they can to match my ambitions for rail this area.

“Our recent Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Independent Economic Review (CPIER) interim findings have made it clear that if we don’t invest in better roads and rail, our economy will be held back.

“Connectivity in the Fens in particular was identified as a key challenge and the need to open up more of the opportunities of the Combined Authority area as a whole to people who live there.

“They were also positive about the prospects of Wisbech rail, as well as my plans for an interim station solution at Cambridge South by 2021.”

Mayor Palmer is also pressing Network Rail to commit to a schedule on a planned doubling of the track between Ely and Soham, which will enable more frequent passenger and freight services along the route.

It comes as the Combined Authority has already agreed £9.5 million in funding for improvements to Fenland railway stations to improve capacity and facilities and is awaiting agreed plan of works with Network Rail.

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