Ministers have approved £13.1m of funding towards developing a business case for rail improvements which would see more frequent passenger train services between King’s Lynn and London’s King’s Cross.
The funding will be used to press ahead with developing the case to enhance the rail network in the Ely area.
As well as improved passenger services, the improvements would allow more rail freight between Felixstowe, the West Midlands and the north.
The Department for Transport and Network Rail will lead the business case work, with consultation from groups such as the Ely Taskforce.
The business case will provide details of the project’s costs, benefits and value for money, as a basis for further decisions, the minister for transport said in a letter to MP James Wild confirming the funding.
The North West Norfolk MP said it was an “important step in delivering improvements to unlock more regular services between Lynn, Cambridge and London”.
“Investing in rail connections is an important part of the government’s agenda to boost growth across the country,” he said.
“Improving capacity at this bottleneck will bring benefits to existing passengers and businesses as well as attract new investment to drive long-term growth in the local area.”
South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss said it was “great news”.
“I am also extremely pleased that construction is nearing completion to allow for the eight car trains to operate on the Fen Line.
“The £27m invested by the DfT on this route will greatly increase capacity, significantly improve the travelling experience for regular commuters and will be a tremendous boost to the aspirations and business development opportunities in West Norfolk,” she said.
In March, Norfolk MPs met the chancellor to make the case for funding.
Following a meeting with the chief secretary to the treasury in July, the rail minister confirmed the funding to produce an outline business case in order to unlock funding for design and consents work.
See page 11 for details about current work on the Fen Line and replacement services over the Bank Holiday weekend.