The Ely Area Capacity Enhancements (EACE) Project and WisbechRail
It is a few months since we updated on progress being made with Wisbechrail. However, much does continue behind the scenes.
First a little background to stress that the railway is increasingly busy with freight services and now again after the mandatory lockdowns, with passenger services. Wisbechrail is for a future where there is a need to decarbonise and yet keep people on the move in a pleasant and time efficient manner. Into the future much more is being demanded of our existing railway especially at the junctions at March and Ely.
It is worth remembering that capacity on the railway just as on the road network is determined by capacity at the junctions, and for the desired half-hourly service from Wisbech to Cambridge there will need enough capacity though the junctions in the Ely area. The current work on the Ely Area Capacity Enhancement (EACE) and it’s “South” junction plan are of great relevance to Wisbechrail and was discussed by the Cambridgeshire County Council at its last meeting of the Cambridgeshire County Highways and Transport Committee on July 27th 2021.
It is good to note that the County Council welcomes:
· the increase in rail freight traffic in order to take it off the A14
· and for us, above all, stresses that there must be enough capacity after the new works are completed for Wisbech to Cambridge rail passenger services.
The Committee received a report that set out the proposed response to Network Rail’s consultation on the Ely Area Capacity Enhancement Scheme and sought a delegation to submit the final consultation response to the Executive Director for Place and Economy. It was noted that Local Members had been recently briefed by Network Rail on the scheme.
While discussing the consultation response, Members:
· Highlighted that concerns had been raised by local residents regarding the Kiln Lane crossing and called for assurances that the local area would be protected.
· Welcomed the scheme and noted that one of its benefits would be to reduce levels of westbound freight from Felixstowe on the A14.
· Emphasised the need for Network Rail to ensure the scheme sufficiently cater for a potential increase in future traffic levels due to additional services connecting Cambridge to Wisbech through the junction.
It was resolved unanimously to:
· Note and comments on Network Rail Consultation on the Ely Area Capacity Enhancement Scheme Consultation; and
· Delegate the agreement of the final consultation response to the Executive Director, Place and Economy in consultation with the Chair and Vice Chair of the Highways and Transport Committee.
Network Rail will begin to consult on the work on EACE “North” shortly. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority has contributed £9.3m to these studies and as a result must have a powerful say in the capacity through Ely and how it is to be used. The DfT contributed £13.1m.
Cambridgeshire County Council’s full response can be read here http://wisbechrail.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Cambridgeshire-County-Councils-Response-to-Network-Rails-Consultation-on-the-Ely-Area-Capacity-Enhancement-Scheme.pdf with the consultion response in Appendix A starting on page 10 containing the following references to WisbechRail:
“Moreover it is important to note that the County Council is strongly supportive of the CPCA led project of Wisbech Rail reconnection and it is vital that train paths through Ely are provided for this service.”
“Increase capacity for a Wisbech to Cambridge service.”