The notorious rail bottleneck at Ely is at last subject of improvement proposals following hard lobbying by the Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough James Palmer, and many concerned MPs, including Steve Barclay, Paul Bristow, and Liz Truss.
On top of the £9.3 million from the Mayoral Combined Authority and other funding partners – New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and the Strategic Freight Network – the Department for Transport has added £13.1million to help take forward plans to boost capacity through Ely.
The public can now give views on options being considered as Network Rail’s first round of public consultation on the upgrade for the railway in and around Ely kicks off today and will run for six weeks.
Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough James Palmer said:
“This is the extremely welcome next stage, and it marks beginning of the real action that we’ve lobbied so long for. It’s very important that residents, businesses and travellers on this route take advantage of this chance to feed in to plans and directly help shape the outcome. It is a vital project for Ely – and for the whole of Eastern England – but it’s just as vital that people in the area make their views and feelings known on the proposals. I’d urge everyone to take an interest, share their insights, and help decide on which plan they think is best and want to see go forward.”
The Ely area capacity enhancement (EACE) programme is a proposal to upgrade the railway to allow more trains to run through Ely. The aim is to improve connectivity and reliability for passenger services and meet the demand for more rail freight between the Port of Felixstowe, the West Midlands and the north to support sustainable, long-term economic growth.
Residents and businesses in and around Ely are invited to learn more about the proposals for the programme as it will be an opportunity for communities around Ely to understand:
• potential benefits and aspirations
• the challenges that would have to be addressed to increase capacity
• current funding position of the EACE programme
• how the public will be consulted as options are progressed
How you can have your say:
Owing to the current Coronavirus situation and following Government guidance, Network Rail is conducting this first round of public consultation remotely to maintain the safety of the public and their staff.
The consultation materials will be available online via Network Rail’s project webpage until 1 November. Feedback can be submitted to Network Rail using the online survey accessed via the webpage or by sending comments back to Network Rail using the pre-paid postal form found in the consultation booklet (available in hardcopy on request).
There will also be opportunities for the public to speak to project representatives via webchats at specific times throughout the consultation period as well as by phone:
The Webchat facility is available via the project webpage from 21 September to 1 October on the following days:
• Mon, Tues, Thurs 10am – 4pm
• Weds 2pm – 8pm
A dedicated consultation line 0800 160 1780 is live from 21 September to 3 October on the following days:
• Mon, Tues, Thurs 2pm – 5pm
• Wed 5pm – 8pm
• Saturday 10am – 1pm
Ellie Burrows, Network Rail’s route director for Anglia said: “It is important that we provide opportunities to engage with the communities that could be impacted by our work as it develops. It is even more important that we listen to people and gather their views to help inform our development and design process. By starting these discussions early, we hope to embark on this journey with the community and progress these proposals together, finding the right solution for the railway and for Ely.”
General comments on the programme can also be sent by email to: ElyAreaCapacityEnhancements@networkrail.co.uk Hardcopies of the consultation materials can be requested (available from 21 September) by contacting 03457 11 41 41.