Transport Secretary Chris Grayling visited Ely North Junction to hear first hand of the need for improvements at this “critical bottleneck” and to also learn more about concerns of local residents.
The visit on Thursday was hosted by Councillor Charles Roberts, Cambridgeshire’s deputy mayor, and also included Fenland Council leader Councillor John Clark who is the transport portfolio holder at the Combined Authority, Cambridgeshire County Council leader Councillor Steve Count and MP Lucy Frazer.
Ely North Junction sees five lines intersect to connect Norwich and King’s Lynn with Cambridge, Cambridge to London, and Ipswich to the Midlands via Fenland’s Manea, March and Whittlesey stations.
As it stands the junction is a key bottleneck and is holding up improvements to services at Manea, March and Whittlesey and also is vital for the re-opening of the March to Wisbech line enabling Wisbech to have a direct link to Cambridge.
Last October it was announced it was likely the upgrade 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.
Following the meeting, Councillor Roberts said: “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).
“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. 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 its so important for there to be a proper road solution to accompany the rail solution. 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 its 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 has 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.”