Campaign for rail service improvements

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THREE MPs are continuing their campaign for rail service improvements.

Fenland MP Steve Barclay and Norfolk colleagues Elizabeth Truss MP and Henry Bellingham MP have secured an undertaking from Network Rail to produce a full cost analysis by September for the provision of a half hourly service between Cambridge and King’s Lynn.

They further obtained confirmation from Network Rail that improvements to this line will form a part of Network Rail’s initial industry plan which sets out their forward work plan which they are submitting to Ministers in September.

This announcement follows pressure by the MPs for an upgrading of the line between Cambridge and King’s Lynn, which would allow more trains to stop at Ely, Littleport and Downham Market.

This benefits constituents across North East Cambs, including those getting connections from March or the many residents in Wisbech who travel from Downham Market.

Mr Barclay first raised the issue in questions to the Secretary of State for Transport last December and has continued to press Ministers since.

Strong representations by him and fellow MPs are continuing to be made in advance of the announcement of Network Rail’s future capital funding for 2014-2019.

Network Rail will publish this in their Strategic Business Plan in October 2012.

Their campaign has been backed by Norfolk planning officers, Highways and the Greater Cambridgeshire, Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership.

Mr Barclay had identified through detailed research that the Thameslink will terminate at Cambridge because only the London to Cambridge part of the track will be electrified. He then raised this with the Transport Secretary, Philip Hammond, highlighting the need for a cost benefit analysis of extending the electrification.

If this took place it would extend the upgraded service to King’s Lynn covering additional stations such as Ely and Littleport.

After the meeting Mr Barclay said: “I am extremely pleased to see that Network Rail are treating this seriously and will conduct a cost analysis of how the half-hourly service can be achieved.

“Obviously this is just the start of a long process but the economic benefits across the region will be tremendous and provide a significant boost to North East Cambs.

“I will continue to maintain the pressure on Network Rail so that the Fenline is included in Network Rail’s future works programme. It is important that this really does translate into increased trains, passenger growth and encourage employment.

“I am also arranging meetings with government ministers to ensure the Fenline remains a priority line.”