The Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, visited Queen Adelaide today to discuss the proposed works to Ely North junction. The busy junction sees five railway lines intersect to connect Norwich and King's Lynn to Cambridge, Cambridge to London and Ipswich to the Midlands.
Ely North junction is a busy intersection which serves both passenger and freight lines, often trains must slow down and wait for others to pass leading to significant levels of congestion. The junction has been identified by the Government as a key bottleneck that needs to be freed up to increase the capacity of the rail network in East Anglia.
Last October it was announced that it was likely that the scheme would be included and funded as part of Control Period 6 (2019-2024) and the rail improvement works delivered by Network Rail. However, concerns have been raised by Queen Adelaide and Ely residents about the impact the rail improvement works could have on the B1382.
In Ely, the Transport Secretary was joined by the Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council and Deputy Mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, Cllr Charles Roberts, Transport Portfolio Holder at the Combined Authority, Cllr John Clark and the local MP for South East Cambridgeshire, Lucy Frazer QC MP. The Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, Cllr Steve Count was also in attendance.
Following the meeting, Cllr Charles Roberts commented:
"Clearly the rail improvements at Ely North junction need to happen, there is no alternative. With the growth that the wider region is experiencing it’s critical that our rail infrastructure is upgraded and the frequency of services improved. We will not be successful in doing this unless this key bottleneck is tackled.
"It was great to welcome the Transport Secretary to Ely, he clearly appreciates the significance of tackling the bottleneck to the wider region and I'm very confident that the works will be completed in the next control period (2019-2024). Much of what the Combined Authority wants to achieve rail wise is contingent upon this work taking place.
"I was pleased to be able to have the opportunity to explain in detail to the Transport Secretary why it’s so important for there to be a proper road solution to accompany the rail solution being led by Network Rail. I understand the concerns that have been raised by residents in Queen Adelaide and Ely and I'm determined to fight their corner. Yes, solving the rail challenge at Ely North junction is of critical importance to the wider region, but it’s also important that this doesn't have a detrimental impact on roads in Ely and the surrounding area.
"I know that the Mayor and the Combined Authority are keen to play a full role in developing the road based solution. The County Council have commissioned a report on the issue, but more work needs to be done in identifying the preferred solution and properly costing it. It could well be that some of the £74 million given to the Mayoral Combined Authority in the budget could be used to do this, however, this would need to be subject to wider discussion at board level.
"I know that Lucy Frazer MP has worked particularly hard to ensure that the voices of Queen Adelaide and Ely residents are heard at the highest levels. As the Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, I'm very grateful for this."