Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough James Palmer has said Government approval for a scheme to allow eight-car trains to operate on the frequently overcrowded route between King’s Lynn and Cambridge will be a welcome boost to rail users.
Network Rail said yesterday that the Department for Transport had approved a bid for investment in the project, which will upgrade infrastructure that currently limits services along the route to four-car trains.
Network Rail expects work to start in October 2019, to be completed by Summer 2020. Train operator Great Northern will look to introduce the longer eight-car services in December 2020.
Rail users at stations including Littleport, Ely and Waterbeach frequently have to put up with not being able to get a seat at peak times, and there has been widespread support for the upgrade from rail users, local councillors, MPs, as well as Great Northern. The full route runs from King’s Lynn to London King’s Cross, although between Cambridge and London eight-car services can operate.
The upgrade will involve extending platforms 1 and 2 at Waterbeach to 167 metres, extending platform 2 at Littleport to 167 metres and providing step-free access to platform 1. There will also be necessary sidings work at King’s Lynn.
These platform extensions are required to prevent longer trains overhanging level crossings, while still allowing drivers access to the platform if an incident occurs in the station. Network Rail will release more information for passengers and the local community shortly.
Mayor James Palmer said: “I’m delighted with the news that the Network Rail bid to introduce eight-car trains between Cambridge and Kings Lynn has been successful. I was aware that a decision was pending and organised meetings this month with the new Rail Minister Andrew Jones MP and the Chief Executive of Network Rail Andrew Haines to make them fully aware of my strong views on this scheme.
“As a Soham resident who needs to travel frequently between Ely and London on the service at peak times I’m fully aware that the level of overcrowding can be appalling. It’s not right that thousands of hard working Cambridgeshire commuters have had to put up with this for so long.
“Though a little disappointed that the eight-car trains can’t be introduced sooner, I’m extremely happy that there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel. This is very, very good news.”