HS2: Ely Junction rail revamp plans given cautious welcome by Eastern leaders

  • Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Claire McGlasson

Plans to upgrade a major railway bottleneck have been given a cautious welcome by political leaders in the East.

The government announced that the Ely North junction would to be upgraded to allow an extra six freight trains every day access to the Port of Felixstowe, using a slice of money that had previously been ring-fenced for the second phase of HS2.

The junction is a vital part of East Anglia’s rail network where five rail lines converge, from Cambridge, Peterborough, Norwich, Ipswich and King's Lynn.

The government claims that by remodelling the route, it will mean the equivalent of 450 lorries removed from roads in the East of England every day and create better travel for frustrated rail passengers.

Nik Johnson, the mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, gave the news a cautious welcome but warned the long-awaited improvements needed to take place soon.

"I hope it doesn't take decades, it needs to be happening now," he told ITV News Anglia.

"We have done a lot of lobbying working with all the constituent authorities and lots of organisations across the East of England and we need to see this happening as soon as possible."

The North Ely junction Credit: ITV News Anglia

James Palmer, chair of the Eastern Powerhouse and former Cambridgeshire mayor, said he was "delighted" at the announcement.

"It's been a bottleneck that's impacted negatively on the train services in our region for many many years and we are absolutely delighted that the hard work we have put in and others as well has come to fruition. 

"Everybody who lives in Peterborough, King's Lynn, Norwich, Ipswich, Cambridge and all the villages and towns in between, people who use the rail - those are people who will benefit from this investment. It is absolutely fantastic for our region."

The upgrade comes as part of £6.5bn the Prime Minister announced for East Anglia after cancelling the northern leg of HS2.

Some £180 million is also due to be spent on 13 road schemes in the East, including the A10 between Ely and Cambridge, the government said.

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