Monday, 16 July 2012

Rail Improvements Puts Cambridgeshire On Track To Boost Economy

A national £9 billion package of rail improvements that will also help boost the economy in Cambridgeshire has been welcomed by councillors.

The money will see a notorious rail bottleneck at the Ely North junction improved making it easier for freight and passenger trains to travel to and from Norwich and King's Lynn as well as London.

This was a key priority of the regional rail prospectus put together by local and regional councils as well as MPs.

£240M has been earmarked for the East Coast Main Line, and improvements could include the widening of the line to four tracks between Huntingdon and Peterborough, providing more capacity for local trains between Peterborough and London. Cambridgeshire County Council will now be working with developers Urban and Civic and Network Rail to take forward plans for a new station at Alconbury to serve the Enterprise Zone and housing growth.

Today's Government announcement also sees the confirmation of the western section of the east-west rail project between Oxford and Bedford. Attention will now turn to the trickier issues relating to the central section between Bedfordshire and Cambridge. Cambridgeshire County Council will now take on the role of lead authority for this and will be commissioning some feasibility work in the near future.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Ian Bates, Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning, said: "We are very pleased to see some of the crucial rail improvements needed for the prosperity of the County and indeed country included in this package of funding. Improvements in Ely will mean more reliable and frequent services boosting the local, regional and national economy. The County Council is committed to solving the issues that surrounds the Ely Rail Crossing as more trains are expected to be travelling through the city. The announcement over the east-west rail project means we will now take a lead on looking at joining the gap between Cambridge and Bedfordshire. There are no easy solutions for this, but we need to understand all the options and how deliverable they might be before deciding on the way forward. This package of funding is great news for our local and national economy."

East Cambridgeshire District Council Leader Peter Moakes, said: "This is good news not just Ely but for Cambridgeshire and the region. It is a significant investment in our railway infrastructure which will open the door for many improvements. In a stroke, we are increasing the capacity of the track which means more passenger and freight journeys, this can only be good for our future growth."