Rail campaigners hope the completion of a multi-million pound action package will put them at the front of the queue for vital funding.
Members of a taskforce, set-up a year ago to drive forward the delayed £35m Ely North junction upgrade, met last Friday for fresh talks.
The rail summit, held at Downham Market, was spearheaded by South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss, who said “significant progress” had been made.
The summit, which included councillors, MPs, business leaders and rail representatives, heard funding had been agreed in principle for an action plan which would take two years to complete.
Ms Truss said that once completed, the plan would put the project at the “front of the queue in the Government’s next spending round”.
Enterprise partnerships and the rail industry have been asked to contribute £3.3m towards the plan. Chris Starkie, managing director of the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), said: “This was an important meeting and a useful opportunity for all partners to discuss the proposed upgrading of the Ely North rail junction.
“We recognised the value of this project and its role was highlighted in our Rail Prospectus for East Anglia, which estimated that the remodelled junction could generate £100m for the economy and improve connectivity throughout East Anglia.
“We have been asked to make a contribution of £3.3m to the project, along with our colleagues at Greater Cambridgeshire and Greater Peterborough LEP and supported by funding from the rail industry.”
He said the request would be considered by the New Anglia board once it had received confirmation from the Government of the LEP’s latest Growth Deal allocation. Speaking after the summit, Justice Minister Ms Truss said the taskforce was ready to secure funding to develop the scheme.
“The LEPs and freight companies have in principle, agreed this money,” she said adding the junction was a key intersection which, once upgraded, would allow a half-hourly passenger service from King’s Lynn to London and increased freight movement. “We also discussed with the rail operators longer trains to serve peak period traffic and designs are underway to support this, particularly with stations that have shorter platforms,” said Ms Truss.
The proposed Ely North junction improvements have been on hold since a review in 2015 which saw the upgrade work delayed until at least 2019.