MP Liz Truss vows ’I’ll keep coming back’ as she meets rail chiefs at Ely in her fight for improved services and junction improvements
PUBLISHED: 14:12 04 December 2015 | UPDATED: 14:12 04 December 2015
MP Elizabeth Truss vowed ‘I’ll keep coming back’ until the Ely North Junction is upgraded.
The South West Norfolk MP was speaking as she went into a meeting with Network Rail and Govia Thameslink to discuss the upgrade and introduction of half hourly train services on the King’s Lynn to London line.
The meeting at Ely Station today (Friday) was called by the MP – and Environment Secretary- after the Department for Transport confirmed last month the works to upgrade the Ely North Junction had been postponed and would not now be carried out until 2019-2024.
It had originally been scheduled for completion by 2019. The junction is vital to the East Anglian rail network serving a number of lines including the King’s Lynn/Downham Market to London line and the Thetford route.
The delay followed a review by Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy of the enhancement and investment programme in the railway control period 5 (2014-2019). It will now be carried out in railway control period 6 (2019-2024).
Ms Truss said: “I had a meeting with Patrick McLoughlin, transport secretary, last week to make it clear this upgrade is vital to the Fen line.
“Half hourly services are important to the overall growth of Norfolk. I am expecting a response from the transport secretary by December 10.
“Today’s meeting will allow me to ask exactly what it is going to cost to upgrade Ely North Junction, previously the budget was £35 million, but I want to know what money is required now.
“I also want to talk about the level crossings; I thought these had been sorted out.
“I need to know this information so we can push the transport department to get this important upgrade carried out as soon as possible. I am going to keep coming back until it is done.”
To achieve the essential half hourly services between Cambridge and King’s Lynn changes to the junction and to level crossings in the Ely are needed.
The Hendy report said the scheme to upgrade Ely North Junction will be delivered now in CP6 to allow co-ordination with safety critical level crossing works nearby.
The report accepts that Network Rail is aware of the strong aspiration of the Department for Transport and local user groups and MPs to see improvements to services on the Cambridge to Kings Lynn corridor as soon as practicable.
It said: “Network Rail is undertaking development on a scheme to allow the lengthening of peak time services on the Cambridge to King’s Lynn corridor from four to eight car length trains to tackle overcrowding and will report back to Department for Transport on costs and programme for delivery in spring of 2016.
A Network Rail spokesman said: “No infrastructure project has been cancelled and the bulk of our investment programme for the east of England will be delivered by March 2019.
“Some projects, such as Ely North Junction, will take longer than originally expected and we understand that people will be disappointed.
“Over the next four years, we will continue to deliver our Railway Upgrade Plan to provide more reliable journeys for passengers in the region.”
Ms Truss added: “The introduction of eight car trains will be welcomed by regular commuters and I also want to see improved services on the Thetford line.”