Contact us: Andy Tyler (Secretary)
Tel: 07803 459 043, e-mail: fluasecretary [at] flua.org.uk
67, Goodwins Road, KING'S LYNN, Norfolk, PE30 5PE

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Great Northern 2018 Timetable Consultation

MANY FEN LINE JOURNEYS SET TO BECOME MUCH LONGER

Proposed 2018 Saturdays and Sundays timetables now out for consultation at www.transformingrail.com

All Fen Line stations affected - those north of Ely affected worst

Many King's Cross to Downham Market and to King's Lynn journeys are planned to become up to 12 MINS SLOWER (one service only 14 MINUTES SLOWER)

Many long stands scheduled at Littleport (6 MINUTES) on many northbound services to wait for southbound services to clear the single line between there and Downham Market (9 miles, 9 minutes journey each way)

"Rail fare rise biggest for five years" - BBC News, Tuesday 5 December 2017

On Wednesday 29 November 2017 Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport tells Parliament: "I am doing what we need to do, which is to deliver better journeys, better journey times and new trains for passengers, which is what they want above all"

"Significant investments are being made in the modernisation of rail services to deliver higher capacity, speed and connectivity"
- page 48, HM Government Industrial Strategy, Monday 27 November 2017

Click here for our compilation of GTR's complete 2018 Fen Line proposals

*** FLUA Members - for details of how YOUR train would be affected by GTR's 2018 proposals, please go to our analysis, showing existing times and proposed replacement times on a service-by-service basis for Mondays to Fridays and Saturdays and Sundays. These details are in the Members' section. ***

We urge Members and other travellers to take part in this very important consultation. GTR's consultation document "Phase 3 – weekends & late night trains (2330 – 0500)" is at https://www.transformingrail.com/-/media/goahead/transforming-rail/files/phase-3-weekends-consultation-document-final.pdf?la=en

GTR's consultation on the proposed 2018 Saturdays and Sundays timetables closes at 12 noon on Wednesday 20 December 2017

Consultation on the proposed Mondays to Fridays times CLOSED on Thursday 27 July 2017. The Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, King’s Lynn Business Improvement District Ltd and the Association expressed their considerable dissatisfaction with the proposed 2018 Mondays to Fridays timetable on Tuesday 18 July 2017.

The news release issued jointly by the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, FLUA and King's Lynn Business Improvement District expressing the three bodies' dismay with the CURRENT timetable proposals - for Saturdays and Sundays - is here.

*** FEN LINE STRONGLY OUTPERFORMS AGAIN - OFFICIAL 2016/17 STATION USAGE FIGURES NOW OUT - see news item below, dated Friday 1 December 2017 ***

East Anglia's busiest and fastest-growing stations

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Advance warning - Monday 12 FEBRUARY - Friday 16 FEBRUARY 2018

IMPORTANT TRAVEL ANNOUNCEMENT

Major bridge works and track maintenance are taking place between King's Lynn and Ely, for 5 consecutive days from Monday 12 February to Friday 16 February 2018, closing the Fen Line north of Ely North Junction over this period.

No trains will run between King's Lynn and Ely on these days.

BUSES WILL REPLACE TRAINS BETWEEN KINGS LYNN AND ELY, calling at all stations.

Valid rail tickets will be accepted on the GTR rail replacement bus services.

This announcement affects rail travel to/from King's Lynn, Watlington, Downham Market, and Littleport, and relevant services to/from Ely.

CHECK WITH Great Northern or Greater Anglia BEFORE travelling.

*** Our usual news items follow below ***

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Friday 15 December 2017 - Writing in 'yourlocalpaper'', King's Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council leader Brian Long says: "We've heard much about the promised work on Ely North Junction that is to take place, but will inevitably be a long process. We also want the single-line sections between there and Lynn returned to a two-track line. The single-track bottlenecks result in a substandard level of service, which Great Northern is now proposing to downgrade further, with even longer journey times. [GTR's] consultation closes on Wednesday [20 December] so please respond."

Please see our announcement 'MANY FEN LINE JOURNEYS SET TO BECOME MUCH LONGER' at the top of this page.

Thursday 14 December 2017 - Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, officially launches the East West Rail Company today. The company is a "non-departmental public arm’s length body set up by the government to accelerate the East West Rail project – a new rail link between Cambridge and Oxford." Writing in the Cambridge News today, Mr Grayling says he is "pleased that the Budget provided £5m of funding to develop plans for a new station at Cambridge South, matched by a further £5m from Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, Greater Cambridge Partnership, and AstraZeneca. The new station at Cambridge South would be served by the restored East West rail line." [Just as we support all Fen Line trains calling at Cambridge North, we also ask for them to 'stop where the jobs are' at Cambridge South].

Tuesday 12 December 2017 - "Dear Network Rail Limited, I should be grateful if you could supply me with details of your plans to extend the platforms at the existing Waterbeach Station. In particular, whether this is a definite plan and, if so, when you envisage completion" writes Michael Williamson in a Freedom of Information request to Network Rail today. [Network Rail must normally respond to the request for information (about the existing Fen Line station, not the larger replacement station proposed by RLW Estates) by Monday 15 January 2018].

Monday 11 December 2017 - "Double bid to solve Lynn's travel woes" is the front page story of the Eastern Daily Press today. "...with rail journeys to and from King's Lynn set to increase, campaigners are keen to open a new gateway to ensure the town is open for business" writes Chris Bishop. "At the same time, business leaders and rail passengers are calling for the line to King's Lynn to be [re-]dualled as timetable changes look to result in longer travel times. Darren Taylor, chairman of King's Lynn Business Improvement District (BID) said: 'We need to make our dissatisfaction clear to government.'" The newspaper devotes page 4 to the front page story.

Sunday 10 December 2017 - New Fen Line timetables start today; changes are only minor. Table 17 of the Electronic National Rail Timetable, published by Network Rail, shows the new times. Every day of the week, the overwhelming majority of King's Lynn/Ely-King's Cross trains operate as 'The Cambridge Express'; these are trains which run 'fast' between Cambridge and King's Cross. Additionally, on Mondays to Fridays, the 0617 King's Lynn-Liverpool Street and the 1707 Liverpool Street-King's Lynn services operate as 'The Fenman'.

Sunday 10 December 2017 - Reporting in the Cambridge Independent on The Future of Transport conference, Mike Scialom reports: " Cambridge South station is 'a key enabler for life sciences from our point of view ', said AstraZeneca’s Andy Williams, who is vice president R&D for MedImmune and Cambridge Transition team leader for AstraZeneca." [We support a new Cambridge South station, asking of for all Fen Line trains to "stop where the jobs are."]

Saturday 9 December 2017 - "Call to restore double track rail line between King’s Lynn and Littleport" writes Chris Bishop in the Eastern Daily Press. "There are calls for the railway line to King’s Lynn to be dualled as proposed timetable changes will leave passengers facing longer journey times. West Norfolk council, the Fen Line Users Association and King’s Lynn Business Improvement District claim passengers will receive a worse service, as longer stops in stations add 12 to 14 minutes to the journey between King’s Lynn and London King’s Cross. They say the single line bottleneck imposes “severe limits on the scheduling of trains”, leading to the longer overall journey times now being proposed. They want the second track between Lynn and Littleport, which was removed to save costs in the 1980s, to be restored to accommodate 12-car trains. Council leader Brian Long said: 'We’ve heard much about the promised work on Ely North Junction that is to take place, but that will inevitably be a long process. We also want the single-line sections between there and King’s Lynn returned to a two-track line. The single-track bottlenecks result in a sub-standard level of service, which Great Northern is now proposing to downgrade further, with even longer journey times.' Train operator Great Northern has put its proposed timetable changes out to consultation."

Please see our announcement 'MANY FEN LINE JOURNEYS SET TO BECOME MUCH LONGER' at the top of this page.

Friday 8 December 2017 - "Passenger group demands fare cut for longer journeys" says the Lynn News today in a full-page feature given over to the Fen Line [page 12]. "Campaigners have demanded a minimum 10 per cent cut in rail fares on West Norfolk's line as compensation for the prospect of longer rail journeys. This week's announcement that fares will increase by an average of 3.4 per cent in January has sparked renewed anger over costs and a perceived lack of improvements to the service. Now the Fen Line Users Association has called for passengers to be compensated. Chairman Colin Sampson said: 'We've said before that more and more people are travelling to Cambridge and London and that they expect a decent train service. .... Not delivering the promised half-hourly frequency is bad enough, but now they're thinking of slowing things down on top of that.'" ... Rail Delivery Group Chief Executive Paul Plummer tells the Lynn News: "Alongside investment from the public and private sectors, money from fares is underpinning the partnership railway's long term plan to change and improve."

[If the proposed longer King's Lynn-King's Cross journey times are introduced, these will happen in the short-term, starting in December next year. Great Northern has talked about extra time to stop at the new Cambridge North station - something that the Association supports - and it is acknowledged that a very small part of the proposed longer journey times, say 2 minutes, is necessary for this stop. Great Northern has also said that evening journey times would be 'significantly faster' than they are now - see news item, dated today, which is immediately under this news item. These proposed faster journey times are for SOUTHBOUND evening services, i.e. not the return northbound services from Kings Cross to Kings Lynn. This point applies to the Mondays to Fridays proposals as well as to those for Saturdays. Click here for our compilation of GTR's complete 2018 Fen Line proposals].

*** FLUA Members - for details of how YOUR train would be affected by GTR's 2018 proposals, please go to our analysis, showing existing times and proposed replacement times on a service-by-service basis for Mondays to Fridays and Saturdays and Sundays. These details are in the Members' section. ***

The Lynn News also reports today that "Action for Rail activists, who want the network to be returned to public ownership, are expected to stage fresh demonstrations against the hikes when they come into force in January."

[The Association is not affiliated to any political party or organisation. Network Rail, which runs the infrastructure is wholly-owned by the Government; Govia Thameslink Railway, which operates the Great Northern 'The Cambridge Express' service between Kings Lynn and Kings Cross, operates as a management contractor to the Government, which specifies the service levels required. The Association is calling for a reduction in fares to compensate for the degradation of the service should these proposals go ahead. The news release issued jointly by the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, FLUA and King's Lynn Business Improvement District is here].

Friday 8 December 2017 - "Growth at risk from West Norfolk ‘rail downgrade’, campaigners warn" writes News Editor Allister Webb in today's Lynn News [Page 12 is devoted to the Fen Line stories]. "Passenger growth on West Norfolk’s rail line will be put at risk without urgent improvements to services, politicians and business leaders have warned. New figures have revealed almost 1.7 million passenger entries and exits were recorded at the borough’s three stations over the past year, up three per cent on the previous year. But campaigners have seized on the data to denounce new timetable plans for the route, which they say could add nearly 15 minutes to some journeys. Passengers are being urged to take part in an ongoing public consultation on weekend timetable plans. And King’s Lynn BID chairman Darren Taylor said this week: 'King’s Lynn businesses are getting increasingly fed up with false promises and a lack of action.' The BID committee has also teamed up with West Norfolk Council and the Fen Line Users Association to reiterate its demand for the government to intervene and ensure the long-awaited twice-hourly rail service between Lynn and London is delivered. They want a long-term commitment to 12 coach trains, instead of the eight that are currently proposed by industry bosses, plus work to re-dual sections of the line that were downgraded in the 1980s. And they say the latest data on passenger numbers published by the Office for Rail and Road (ORR) emphasises the need for urgent action." The newspaper points out that "According to the ORR data, nearly a million entries and exits were recorded at Lynn’s station during 2016-17, an increase of 2.5 per cent, or around 28,000 on the previous year. The total was also up by nearly 4.5 per cent at Downham, to around 523,000, making it now the fourth busiest station in Norfolk. But, although Watlington’s figure was down by just over three per cent to around 144,000, the overall increase in West Norfolk’s passenger numbers, around three per cent, is well ahead of the overall 0.4 per cent growth rate recorded across the whole of the network. The ORR data is based on estimates of ticket sales from each station. Great Northern insists longer journeys are necessary to improve performance and enable trains to stop for long enough at the new Cambridge North station, which opened in the spring. The company also says its weekend plans will offer standardised journey times throughout the, meaning evening services will be significantly faster than they are now. But West Norfolk Council leader Brian Long said the proposals would 'downgrade further' the borough’s service. He said: 'Our line is one of East Anglia’s most consistent heavy-hitters – official figures just out show what we know already from our packed trains – passenger numbers are up yet another year. We urge rail users to respond to Great Northern’s consultation and tell them what they think.'”

Friday 8 December 2017 - "Bodies voice rail dismay" reports 'yourlocalpaper' today. "West Norfolk Council, the Fen Line Users Association (FLUA), and the King's Lynn Business Improvement District (BID) warn Saturday journeys could take an extra 12 or 14 minutes. Earlier proposals would already see weekday journeys take longer. New official station usage estimates for 2016/17, released on December 1, say Lynn, Downham Market, Ely and Waterbeach - all in East Anglia's top 20 per cent biggest stations band - are consistently four of region's fastest growing stations. Despite the sustained growth in passenger numbers, the current timetable proposals for longer journeys risk jeopardising the Fen Line's success story, the three organisations say." Darren Taylor, King's Lynn BID Chairman, tells 'yourlocalpaper': "I'm concerned that the Fen Line, and Lynn specifically, is yet again being overlooked in favour of investment that will benefit other towns and cities in the east. We need to make our dissatisfaction clear to the Government."

East Anglia's busiest and fastest-growing stations

Overall Summary Proposed 2018 Timetable - Norfolk Stations - Proposed longer journey times

Friday 8 December 2017 - "Popular pub to re-open as a station cafe" says 'yourlocalpaper' today. "Opening in the New Year, Platform 1 will be selling hot drinks and sandwiches for customers to sit inside or takeaway." The premises at Downham Market station "is currently undergoing a £25,000 refurbishment" and will officially open in January. New owner Jason Sutton tells the newspaper: "It will have free Wi-Fi so people can charge their phones too."

Thursday 7 December 2017 - "Slowing down our train journeys"says radio station KLFM96.7."It's going to slow down our train journeys next year. That's because the proposed 2018 timetable would see trains to King's Cross taking up to 14 minutes longer. This is even worse news for commuters because it comes as more of us than before are using these trains. The Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, the Fen Line Users Association (FLUA), and the King's Lynn Business Improvement District Ltd have all expressed their dismay at the news. ... Here's the proposed changes ." [Many Mondays to Fridays journeys, which were consulted on earlier in the year, would be affected similarly if the proposals go through].

Thursday 7 December 2017 – “To further clarify our understanding with you,” writes Emma Wolstenholme of Network Rail, “ I have taken ‘any information’ to be directly in reference to knowing whether the use of 12 carriage trains at Waterbeach Station will be allowed, that the station will be manned, and that a park and ride scheme will be operating. I hope this is as expected but if I have in any way misunderstood your request, please let me know.” She is responding to a Freedom of Information request dated Wednesday 6 December 2017 made by Gareth Wright, which reads: "Dear Network Rail Limited, Please could you provide me with any information regarding the proposed relocation of the station at Waterbeach. In particular can you confirm or deny claims made by developer, RLW, that a relocated station would;*1. Allow for the use of 12 carriage trains at this station. *2. That the station would be manned. *3. That a park & ride scheme would be in operation." [Ref: FOI2017/01441].

Wednesday 6 December 2017 - Posting on the 'railforums' rail discussion site, 'Triumph' reports that many Ely-King's Cross services will be operated by class 700 Thameslink trains from Monday 12 February 2018 [Post 428 and others following].

Wednesday 6 December 2017 - The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee takes oral evidence today as part of its continuing Inquiry into the Thameslink Programme. Bernadette Kelly, Permanent Secretary at the Department for Transport, tells the PAC in respect of the Virgin Trains East Coast franchise: "We need to recognise that this is a franchise that, on its own admission, is in some financial difficulty. We need to find a way forward that preserves services for passengers and delivers a good deal for those passengers and for taxpayers. That is what we are focused on: finding a commercially sustainable way forward for this franchise, which also delivers better services for passengers. My Secretary of State’s clear view, as he set out in his statement, is that from 2020, a public-private partnership is the way to do that." [The new East Coast Partnership is likely to affect the integrated management of the East Coast Main Line, which is used between King's Cross and Hitchin by 'The Cambridge Express' King's Cross-Ely/King's Lynn trains]. PAC Member Heidi Allen, MP for South Cambridgeshire, raises the issue of the level crossing at Foxton, south of Cambridge, which is on the Kings Lynn-Kings Cross route.

Wednesday 6 December 2017 - "Weekend train journeys between King’s Lynn and London could take longer next year under new timetable proposals" writes Taz Ali in the Eastern Daily Press. "Weekend train journeys could take longer next year on one of the busiest routes in the region. The King’s Lynn to King’s Cross line, served by Great Northern trains, may increase up to 12 to 14 minutes on Saturdays [this also applies to the proposals for Mondays to Friday - consultation closed earlier this year] under new timetable proposals. Figures released on December 1, on estimated station usage, showed King’s Lynn, Downham Market, Ely and Waterbeach stations are four of the region’s fastest growing stations. But despite the sustained growth in passenger numbers, authorities and rail officials believe the current timetable proposals for longer journeys risk jeopardising the Fen Line’s success story. Earlier this year, West Norfolk council, Fen Line Users Association (FLUA) and the King’s Lynn Business Improvement District Ltd called on the government to improve existing journey times on the route and to honour their commitment for half-hourly trains. he three bodies believe the current proposals give added urgency to these calls. ...The proposals by Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs the service, are out for consultation until Wednesday, December 20. "

OUTPERFORMING PASSENGER GROWTH, BUT FEN LINE SERVICES TO BE WORSENED
FLUA CALLS FOR AT LEAST A 10% PRICE CUT ON ALL FARES
Statement by the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, the Fen Line Users Association and the King's Lynn Business Improvement District Ltd issued today

Wednesday 6 December 2017 - The Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, the Fen Line Users Association (FLUA), and the King’s Lynn Business Improvement District Ltd today expressed their dismay with the proposed 2018 weekend timetable for the King’s Lynn to King’s Cross rail route.

As under their earlier proposals for Mondays to Fridays, the rail company envisages Saturday journeys becoming much longer, many taking an extra 12 or 14 minutes.

On 29 November, Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, told Parliament: "I am doing what we need to do, which is to deliver better journeys, better journey times and new trains for passengers, which is what they want above all."

New official station usage estimates for 2016/17, released on 1 December, confirm King’s Lynn, Downham Market, Ely and Waterbeach stations, all in East Anglia’s top 20% busiest stations band, as consistently being four of the region’s fastest growing stations, over periods of 1 year, 5 years and 10 years.

Despite the sustained growth in passenger numbers, the current timetable proposals for longer journeys risk jeopardising the Fen Line’s success story.

Great Northern’s weekend proposals are out for consultation until 20 December 2017.

Govia Thameslink Railway (Great Northern) acts for Government as a management contractor. Earlier in the year, the three bodies called on the Government to:

• Explore ways of maintaining and improving existing journey times between King’s Lynn and King’s Cross (allowing for the additional, welcome, stops at the employment hub around the new Cambridge North station).

• Honour the clear commitment for a ‘half-hourly’ King’s Lynn and King’s Cross, initially extending the times of day when ‘half-hourly’ services do run.

The current negative proposals give added urgency to these calls.

The second track between King’s Lynn and Watlington and between Downham Market and Littleport was removed as an economy measure in 1984/5. The anachronistic single line bottlenecks impose severe limits on the scheduling of trains, leading to the longer overall journey times now being proposed.

The three bodies therefore reiterate their earlier call for the Government to:

• Adopt a minimum two-track railway between King’s Lynn and King’s Cross, equipped to accommodate 12-car trains, as a clear long-term strategic aim. Ensure that short-term plans are fully assessed to ensure they do not conflict with this ultimate goal.

• Instruct the West Anglia Task Force to develop proposals for full re-doubling of the single line sections to remove the root determinant of the places where and the times when trains can pass one another.

Councillor Brian Long, leader of the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, says: “We’ve heard much about the promised work on Ely North Junction that is to take place, but that will inevitably be a long process. We also want the single-line sections between there and King’s Lynn returned to a two-track line. The single-track bottlenecks result in a sub-standard level of service, which Great Northern is now proposing to downgrade further, with even longer journey times.

"Our line is one of East Anglia’s most consistent heavy-hitters – official figures just out show what we know already from our packed trains – passenger numbers are up yet another year. We urge rail users to respond to Great Northern’s consultation, which closes on 20 December, and tell them what they think.”

Colin Sampson, Chairman of the Fen Line Users Association, says: “We’ve said before that more and more people are travelling to Cambridge and London and that they expect a decent train service. The growth isn’t a flash in the pan – just look at the official statistics, which show strong passenger growth year after year. Not delivering the promised ‘half-hourly’ frequency is bad enough, but now they’re thinking of slowing things down on top of that. FLUA thinks fares should be reduced to compensate, not going up again. Many journeys would be 15% longer if this goes through, so we’re looking for at least a 10% price cut on all fares.”

Darren Taylor, Chairman of King’s Lynn BID Ltd, adds: “King’s Lynn businesses are getting increasingly fed-up with false promises and a lack of action from Great Northern. I welcome the bigger trains, but not the long delays before they are to be introduced, maybe over a year away, but we need them twice an hour, all day. I’m concerned that the Fen Line, and King’s Lynn specifically, is yet again being overlooked in favour of investment that will benefit other towns and cities in the East. We need to make our dissatisfaction clear to Government.”

Overall Summary Proposed 2018 Timetable - Norfolk Stations - Proposed longer journey times

East Anglia's busiest and fastest-growing stations

Please see our announcement 'MANY FEN LINE JOURNEYS SET TO BECOME MUCH LONGER' at the top of this page.

Tuesday 5 December 2017 - "No planning to alleviate the problem" writes Rob Beer in the Cambridge News today. "In addition to the daily bumper to bumper car journey, we now have the situation with the trains! For example, the 0632 from Waterbeach to London King's Cross via Cambridge from King's Lynn, is packed at this time in the morning. No, there are no seats available, on the 'new' trains which have less seats and no space/area for commuters with bikes, fold-up type and road bikes. On arrival at Cambridge the portion of the train from King's Lynn (four carriages) the attempts to join the waiting eight carriages, invariably the new trains have to be rebooted and at times after a 15-minute delay the driver informs everyone on board 'problem with the reboot' you will need to get off and catch a later train. We now have ... more people travelling by train, ... due to the number of house developments towards King's Lynn and still nothing is done to alleviate the problem!"

Monday 4 December 2017 - "New rail destinations for commuters to begin next spring from Cambridgeshire to London" reports ITV News. "For decades rail users travelling south from Cambridge and Peterborough have found Kings Cross the end of the line. But from next spring a short, new stretch of railway will make it possible to access a lot more destinations. In addition Govia Thameslink which operates the services says new rolling stock and greatly increased passenger capacity is also on the way." [The new Thameslink routes are separate from the King's Lynn-King's Cross 'The Cambridge Express' services].

*** FEN LINE STRONGLY OUTPERFORMS AGAIN - OFFICIAL 2016/17 STATION USAGE FIGURES NOW OUT - see news item below, dated Friday 1 December 2017 ***

*** Please see our announcement 'MANY FEN LINE JOURNEYS SET TO BECOME MUCH LONGER' at the top of this page. ***

Saturday 2 December 2017 - "King’s Lynn to Ely services, Cambridge South station and moving Waterbeach station all discussed at Fen Line Users Association meeting" reports Seb Pearce in the Ely Standard. "FLUA chairman Colin Sampson reviewed the events of 2017 before guest speaker, Lisa Barrett of Network Rail, confirmed that work on the Fen Line is being done as soon as possible. She also confirmed that the line, which runs between King’s Lynn and Ely, will be closed for five days between Monday February 12 and Friday February 16. ... 'You are still going to get your half-hourly King’s Lynn trains, but the LEP’s and council’s feasibility study has yet to determine exactly what needs to be done with signals and interlocking, overhead wires and track,' Mrs Barrett said. 'It does still need doubling of the [Ely North] junction so you can get your half-hourly service, and it will bring many benefits for the Anglia Region.' Mrs Barrett also said that a new, four-platform station near Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, is a 'really popular idea with a lot of support behind it,' and that Waterbeach station, currently on Clayhithe Street, could be relocated to firmer ground one mile north as part of the Waterbeach new town plans."

Saturday 2 December 2017 - Peter Austin, Delivery Director of the new East West Rail Company (which has been set up to develop the proposed Cambridge-Oxford route) addresses the national rail campaigning organisation Railfuture at the Tamburlaine Hotel, Station Road, Cambridge from 1400 today. The meeting is open to the public and Association members are particularly invited to attend.

FEN LINE STRONGLY OUTPERFORMS AGAIN - OFFICIAL 2016/17 STATION USAGE FIGURES NOW OUT

Friday 1 December 2017 - Official 2016/17 station usage estimates issued today by the Office for Rail and Road show that, against a GB annual growth of +0.4%, the Fen Line strongly outperformed with an annual growth of +3.5%. Taken together, the six Fen Line stations have over 4.5 million users.

King’s Lynn (998,316 users; +2.5%) missed the ‘one million station users’ category by a hair's breadth; Downham Market (523,846; +4.7%) consolidated its position as Norfolk’s fourth most-used station [Norwich (4,111,338; +1.5%), King’s Lynn (998,316; +2.5%), and Diss (685,326; +1.5%) are used more]. Given the observable stress on the car park there, a small decline at Watlington (144,114; -3.2%) is noteworthy, possibly indicating revenue collection/ticket sales issues.

Littleport (242,814; +5.7%) shows the strongest percentage growth on the Fen Line. The four Fen Line stations north of Ely are recorded as having a combined total of 1.9 million users; their combined +3.0% growth greatly outperformed overall GB growth of +0.4%.

The two Fen Line stations between Ely and Cambridge, Ely (all routes: 2,209,350; +3.6%) and Waterbeach (440,142; +4.6%) have a combined total of 2.6 million users and show an annual combined growth of +3.8%, decisively outperforming the overall GB +0.4% growth figure.

Cambridge (11,424,902; +4.3%) is East Anglia’s busiest station. Cambridge is one of the two most popular destinations for Fen Line passengers, the other being King’s Cross (33,816,396; +1.4%). See news item below, dated Monday 17 October 2016.

Thursday 30 November 2017 - In a House of Commons debate today, South East Cambridgeshire MP Lucy Frazer asks: "does the Secretary of State agree that doubling the line from Ely to Soham, as part of the Ely area improvement works, will bring significant benefits to the eastern region?" Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling replies: "Absolutely. I regard this, along with the trans-Pennine upgrade, as one of the key priorities for the next railway investment control period. The Ely junction project will unlock freight and passenger capacity in a really important part of the country. Along with the investments we are putting in place elsewhere, it is a very important part of our strategy."

Wednesday 29 November 2017 - "East Coast rail 'bailout' could cost taxpayers hundreds of millions - Unions and Labour criticise government as Virgin Trains East Coast’s contract is terminated three years early" writes Gwyn Topham in The Guardian today. "The East Coast rail franchise will be terminated three years early, avoiding the embarrassment of another private firm handing back the keys to the government but potentially forfeiting hundreds of millions in premiums due to the Treasury. Under a rail strategy announced by the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, a new partnership model will replace the franchise contract of Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC). The train operator, a joint venture led by Stagecoach with Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group, had pledged to pay £3.3bn to run the service until 2023 when it was reprivatised in 2015 after six years in public hands." Stagecoach's chief executive, Martin Griffiths, tells the newspaper that he was “encouraged by the positive new direction for Britain’s railway”, saying the strategy is "a clear statement of intent to seek to negotiate new terms for the East Coast franchise with Virgin Trains East Coast and we are hopeful of reaching an agreement through to 2020 within the next few months”. The Guardian comments: "The rail strategy laid out by Grayling said the East Coast Partnership (ECP) would be 'the first of the new generation of long-term regional partnerships bringing together the operation of track and train under a single leader and unified brand'. The partnership models will see private train companies invited to bid for contracts where they can take more control over tracks run by Network Rail."

Please see our announcement 'MANY FEN LINE JOURNEYS SET TO BECOME MUCH LONGER' at the top of this page.

Wednesday 29 November 2017 – “Transport Secretary Chris Grayling today sets out a new vision for our railways, including plans to end the operational divide between track and train and an evolution of the franchising system” says the Department for Transport. “The proposals - contained in the government’s Strategic vision for rail – also include commitments to expand the railway network to boost housing and economic growth, and deliver major passenger benefits – including rolling out improved compensation schemes for passengers.” Points from the strategy document include:

• "Commuting into many major towns and cities has become increasingly difficult. This is not just an issue in the largest cities, like London, Birmingham and Manchester. Congestion is a barrier to development in places like Exeter, Bristol and Cambridge”;

• "Cambridge South: one of the largest bio-medical campuses in Europe is being consolidated in Cambridge, and a new station could provide direct rail links to central London, Stansted Airport and regional housing development sites. Working in partnership with local stakeholders, we are committing £5m to develop proposals”;

• “We are also establishing a new East West Rail company to accelerate delivery of the central section between Bedford and Cambridge, aiming for completion by the mid - 2020s”;

• “We have already provided funding to progress the East West Rail project, and development funding via the Strategic Freight Network Fund for the development of a project to improve rail capacity through the Ely area in Cambridgeshire, in conjunction with funding from New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP”;

• “East Coast – The new intercity trains being introduced on this route from late 2018 to 2020 will bring a step change in passenger experience, providing greater comfort and reliability and also improved journey times. We expect future franchises to further improve the passenger experience, enhance stations and accelerate staff involvement. To support this we will develop plans with the industry to launch the first of the new generation of long - term regional partnerships on the East Coast Mainline. The East Coast Partnership will be operated by a single management, under a single brand and overseen by a single leader. It will see the train operator actively collaborate with Network Rail to bring its expertise and a passenger view to the planning of infrastructure management and to developing future plans for route infrastructure; create a unified ‘one - team’ identity and brand across Network Rail route and train operator; and ensure staff share in the success of the railway”;

• “In 2014, the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise brought together two different franchises under one management contract to support the delivery of the Thameslink Programme. The current franchise will come up for renewal in 2021 and with the completion of the Thameslink Programme the Government’s intention is to split the franchise into two or more new franchises. In advance of competitions planned to start in 2019, the Department intends to review the future shape and size of the franchises that will replace the existing arrangements”.

The Secretary of State's statement to Parliament today is here. In it, Mr Grayling says: "We are establishing the East West Rail company to restore the rail link between Oxford and Cambridge – lost to passengers in 1967 – and provide a major boost to the region. And we will look at other opportunities to restore capacity lost under Beeching and British Rail cuts of the 1960s and 1970s, where they unlock development and growth, and offer value for money."

The Secretary of State tells Parliament today: "I am doing what we need to do, which is to deliver better journeys, better journey times and new trains for passengers, which is what they want above all." [Column 344]. In response to Mr Grayling's statement, Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill asks: "I welcome the Secretary of State’s statement and the focus on passengers in particular. He will know that 30% of passenger improvements on Abellio Greater Anglia were due to the new fleet, but that 60% were due to the track. The Oxford-Cambridge line does not end at Cambridge, but goes through to Felixstowe and carries most of the freight for this country, so may I urge him to make Horley [Haughley] junction and Ely junction key priorities in order to deliver better services for both passengers and the freight industry?" Chris Grayling replies: "I can certainly give my hon. Friend that assurance and reiterate the commitment I have given to people in East Anglia that in control period 6 the work on Ely junction will free up both freight and passenger access through that important junction and open up all kinds of opportunities across East Anglia. That will be an early priority for us." [Column 353]. Lucy Frazer, MP for South East Cambridgeshire, asks: "I noted, both in the rail strategy—which I welcome—and in the Secretary of State’s reply to my hon. Friend Jo Churchill, a reference to improvement works at Ely North junction. Can the Secretary of State assure me that when those works—which will benefit the entire region and take freight off the road—are completed, my constituents in Queen Adelaide will not be disadvantaged?" Mr Grayling replies: "Our aim is always to minimise the impact of improvement works as they are happening, and also their consequences. I assure my hon. Friend that we will work with her and her constituents to ensure that this is a beneficial investment for her part of the world, and that where it has any impacts, we will minimise them as far as is possible." [Column 356].

In a Youtube video, Mr Grayling says: "We've now got a system that's bursting at the seams with overcrowded trains and too many trains chasing too little track ."

Please see our announcement 'MANY FEN LINE JOURNEYS SET TO BECOME MUCH LONGER' at the top of this page.

Tuesday 28 November 2017 - "Consultation launched on Great Northern timetable plans" says the Lynn News. "A new round of public consultations has been launched on proposed new timetables to and from West Norfolk. Passengers are being encouraged to have their say on the latest Great Northern plans, which look at late night and weekend travel. But anyone hoping for a change of heart on the prospect of longer journey times is likely to be disappointed as the plans follow a similar pattern to the weekday proposals published earlier this year. However, officials say they are standardising services in order to make the timetable easier for passengers to follow."

Please see our announcement 'MANY FEN LINE JOURNEYS SET TO BECOME MUCH LONGER' at the top of this page.

Tuesday 28 November 2017 - The Public Inquiry into the proposed Network Rail Cambridgeshire Level Crossing Reduction Order opens at 1000 today at the Hallmark Hotel, Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8EU. The Association's Representation of Support is here and its Supplementary Evidence can be found here. On 27 November 2017, we wrote to Network Rail referring to their proposals for C31 Littleport station, saying: "We note the reasoned justification for your proposals set out in your letter [of 23 November 2017] and your words of comfort as set out in the last two substantive paragraphs made in response to our concerns. In particular, we note that the raised footway would be constructed in line with the design principles set out in the Design Guide (submitted with the application for the Order) and that the final design would be subject to approval by the local highway authority. We agree with your view that abolition of all vehicular traffic from the Littleport station underpass is the optimum intervention. In the light of the above, we confirm that we formally WITHDRAW our request that the Secretary of State attach a condition to the Order in respect of C31 Littleport station. Please feel free to convey our revised position to the Inquiry Inspector and to any other relevant parties. We would wish to be consulted during the detailed design stage, as you offer in your letter."

Friday 24 November 2017 - "Cambridge station cash ‘will help West Norfolk too’, council chief says" reports Allister Webb in today's Lynn News. "A £5 million investment in the Cambridge South project was announced in the autumn Budget on Wednesday afternoon. ... West Norfolk Council chief executive Ray Harding believes the plan could have wider benefits for the fight to improve services here too, including the ambition of running twice-hourly trains." Mr Harding told the newspaper yesterday: “If anything, it strengthens the case for investment. It will lead to more commuter traffic switching from road to rail and therefore make half-hourly services even more important.” Mr Webb writes: "The announcement also came as rail campaigners renewed demands for action to tackle congestion on the line serving Lynn, Watlington and Downham. The warning was delivered at the annual general meeting of the Fen Line Users Association (FLUA) in Waterbeach on Saturday. Although afternoon peak services from Cambridge were identified as a particular concern, group chairman Colin Sampson said: 'There is serious overcrowding on the whole King’s Lynn-King’s Cross route.' Treasurer Ken Hubbard said the association was also looking to encourage more people and organisations to work with it to secure improvements. Both FLUA and [King's Lynn & West Norfolk] borough council, together with the King’s Lynn BID committee Discover King’s Lynn, have called for single track sections of the line that were downgraded ... in the 1980s to be re-dualled, in addition to the project to increase capacity at the Ely north junction." The Lynn News concludes: "meanwhile, eight-coach trains, instead of the current four unit services, are still expected to come into service on the Fen Line towards the end of next year."

We invite you to join the Association by becoming an individual member or a corporate member. You can pay by direct bank transfer (details on application forms) or by cheque. If paying by cheque, please make this payable to 'Fen Line Users Association' writing the four words in full and not as an abbreviation.

Friday 24 November 2017 - A reminder that the exhibition concerning RLW Estates' proposals for Waterbeach new town, including a re-located railway station, opens today. The venue is the Salvation Army hall, 7 Station Road, Waterbeach and the exhibition will be open today from 1430 to 1930. It will also be open tomorrow, Saturday 25 November, from 1000 to 1500. The exhibition boards can be found here.

Friday 24 November 2017 - "Never change Lynn's buffet bar, it's our station's home" writes Natalie Copeland in today's 'yourlocalpaper'. "For me one of the best things about travelling from King's Lynn train station is its buffet bar and I never want it to change." In her 'Nat'sChats' column, she goes on to say "... throughout the years Alan Gajdzik, 61, has become a familiar face behind the counter." Mr Gajdzik, who was recently presented with the Borough Crest from West Norfolk Mayor Carol Bower to mark his contribution to King's Lynn, says: "It's important to be polite and we like to ask where a traveller is going. We have customers who are about to travel the world. or, if there's something that's going on in London, there will be people in Norfolk with tickets to it." The 'roving reporter' points out that "Alan often knows what drink to prepare ahead for the regular commuters and will tap the shoulder of commuters lost in a book to warn them their train is about to leave."

Thursday 23 November 2017 - Greater Anglia, which runs the Cambridge-Norwich service and the Liverpool Street-Cambridge service (which is extended to/from Ely/King's Lynn in the peaks) is replacing every single train it has currently with brand new trains which will start to come into service from 2019. The train company is giving people the chance to experience its brand new trains through virtual reality. The virtual reality 'experience' will be open at Cambridge station today (Thursday) from 0645 to 1115 - people are invited just to turn up. A video is available at: https://youtu.be/N6idcmnOpwg. Please note that the train interior shown in the video is that of the regional trains which will run from Cambridge, but not that of the type which will run on the Fen Line between King's Lynn and Liverpool Street.

Thursday 23 November 2017 - The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee announces its Inquiry into the Thameslink Programme today.

Wednesday 22 November 2017 - Govia Thameslink Railway consults on its 2018 proposed Great Northern timetables for Saturdays and Sundays - "Phase 3". Proposals for late night trains (2300-0500) are also part of the current consultation. The consultation runs until 1200 on Wednesday 20 December 2017. We are currently studying the proposed weekendtimetables. [For our response to the earlier Phase 2, made in conjunction with the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk and King's Lynn Bid Ltd, see news item below, dated Tuesday 18 July 2017. See also the joint press release expressing considerable dissatisfaction with the proposed 2018 Mondays to Fridays timetable].

ADDITIONAL NOTE - The news release 'Govia Thameslink launches third consultation phase on once-in-a-generation timetable restructure' issued by GTR on Friday 24 November 2017 states: "Confirmation of the Monday to Friday daytime timetable that was consulted on in phase 2 will be available in the New Year. The phased introduction of cross-London Thameslink services south of Cambridge is set out here."

Wednesday 22 November 2017 - "This report focuses on the Department and Network Rail’s management of the remaining elements of the [Thameslink] programme as it nears completion" - the National Audit office publishes 'Update on the Thameslink Programme' today.

Wednesday 22 November 2017 - HM Treasury Budget policy papers include the following: "A new East West Rail Company is being established to accelerate delivery of the central section between Bedford and Cambridge, aiming for completion by the mid-2020s and leveraging private sector investment. Working in partnership with local stakeholders, the government is committing £5 million to develop proposals for Cambridge South station, and is starting a study on the enhancements needed to accommodate future rail growth across Cambridgeshire."[Section 5.25]

Wednesday 22 November 2017 - "Development of Cambridge South station to be ‘accelerated’, Philip Hammond confirms in Budget" writes Gemma Gardner in the Cambridge Independent. "The Chancellor Philip Hammond committed to government funding to speed up the delivery of a Cambridge South station to support the internationally significant [Cambridge Biomedical] campus. The station will serve the community, region and visitors through connections into London King’s Cross, Liverpool Street, Stansted, Cambridge and King’s Lynn stations with subsequent links planned with East West Rail. ... There are currently 26,500 visits to the campus every day which includes patients, academics, scientists, and visitors, and the 17,250 staff who are working there. This number is set to grow when AstraZeneca, Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Abcam among others, move into new facilities over the next two years. Current estimates at this early stage of scheme development are that around 1.8 million passengers a year would use the station within the first few years of opening. ... The Cambridge Biomedical Campus is currently being expanded by 90 acres to provide the room and facilities for life sciences businesses and institutions to work together and deliver the medical breakthroughs of the future." Dr Andy Williams, vice president for Cambridge strategy and operations at AstraZeneca, which is building its global HQ and R&D centre on the campus, tells the newspaper: “We are delighted at this news, which will bring significant and sustainable benefits to the city of Cambridge, the broader region and the UK life sciences sector."

Wednesday 22 November 2017 - Writing in the Cambridge News, Tom Pilgrim reports: "Seven ways the Budget could directly affect Cambridge - Plans include investment for major rail and road projects." Mr Pilgrim's article includes the following: "Oxford to Cambridge rail link: The Government reiterated that a new East-West Rail Company is being established to accelerate delivery of the central section between Bedford and Cambridge. It is aiming for completion of the project by the mid-2020s. Building a new Cambridge South station: The Government says it will spend £5 million to help deliver a new Cambridge South station. Early work is being done to work up the proposals."

Wednesday 22 November 2017 -"Mayor James Palmer promises to drive Cambridge South rail station forward after Government pledges £5 million towards project" says Seb Pearce in the Wisbech Standard. "Mayor Palmer welcomed the news but says he will 'do everything I can' to get the Addenbrooke’s Hospital-based station built as soon as possible." The Mayor tells the newspaper: "I’m glad that the Government has recognised the importance of delivering a new Cambridge south station in the budget. The Government’s financial commitment to the project is to be welcomed, and is a clear demonstration of how important Greater Cambridge is to the wider UK economy and the Government’s vision for the country post-Brexit. The station will also play an important role in complementing plans published last week for a new Cam-MK-oX arc, and plans for East-West rail. Clearly this is a vital piece of transport infrastructure that is needed to support the rapid growth jobs at the biomedical campus. However, I’m also of the view that the new station needs to be delivered quickly. The existing transport infrastructure around the biomedical campus is already under strain and a rail based solution is required sooner rather than later. The aim should be to look to deliver Cambridge south station within the next couple of years. It has been suggested by some that 2022 is a likely date for the station to come live, but in my view, this is nowhere near good enough. As Mayor I will do everything I can to drive the project forward as quickly as possible. Five years is far too long to wait for Cambridge South station to be delivered."

Wednesday 22 November 2017 - "Today’s Budget announcement on the ‘accelerated development’ of a new railway station for the south of the city has been warmly welcomed by organisations on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus (CBC)" reports the Cambridge Network. Dr Andy Williams, VP for Cambridge Strategy and Operations at AstraZeneca, says: “We are delighted at this news, which will bring significant and sustainable benefits to the city of Cambridge, the broader region and the UK life sciences sector. ... The CBC will be Europe’s largest life sciences cluster, where academia, industry, research and health meet, collaborate and work to tackle some of the most significant healthcare challenges facing the world today. This station will enhance connectivity within the ‘’Golden Triangle’ of Cambridge, Oxford and London and internationally, which in turn will help drive growth and investment in UK science and innovation.” Malcolm Lowe-Lauri, Executive Director at Cambridge University Health Partners, says: “To maintain our position as the UK’s Capital of UK Life Sciences, we must have the infrastructure in place to link with the East of England, other parts of the UK and the world. A railway station can help deliver this. A ‘destination’ station would significantly improve access for staff, visitors and patients ...” Stephen Posey, Chief Executive at Papworth Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, says: “As we prepare to move to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, we know how important it is for our patients and staff to have sustainable and integrated travel options to reach our new building. A new railway station will significantly assist with this. It will also help with the recruitment and retention of world class staff and taking a broader view, will enable academics, visiting researchers and investors easy access to the Campus to further our knowledge and tackle the key healthcare challenges of the future. [Section 5.25]”

Wednesday 22 November 2017 - The Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority's statement Cambridge South moves one step forward after budget announcement''gives more positive and supportive reactions from political and business leaders. [We support a new Addenbrooke's/Biomedical Campus station at Cambridge South, in line with our policy of campaigning for all Fen Line trains to 'stop where the jobs are' at both Cambridge North and Cambridge South].

Wednesday 22 November 2017 - The Greater Cambridge Partnership Executive Board resolves today "to make up to £1.75M contribution to the development phase of Cambridge South Station, with up to £8.25M from other national and local partners" and "to make a £50,000 contribution to a feasibility study into rail capacity in Cambridgeshire, in partnership with Network Rail, Cambridgeshire County Council and the Combined Authority."

Wednesday 22 November 2017 - RLW Estates, one of the two main promoters of a new town at Waterbeach, which is expected to take 20 years to complete, has launched its new website www.waterbeach.co.uk today. The company will be holding an exhibition at the Salvation Army building, 7 Station Road, Waterbeach, on Friday 24 November (1430-1930) and on Saturday 25 November (1000-1500). Chris Goldsmith, Director of RLW Estates, says: "The will be the second exhibition we have held to show the residents of Waterbeach the plans that are progressing for the new town and also the proposed move of the train station. We will be showing how previous comments have been incorporated into our plans and also enable people to start to visualise what it will be like to live in the new town." [The website for Urban&Civic, which covers the other, western part of the proposed new town is at: http://www.waterbeachbarracks.co.uk/].

The RLW Estates website states: "We recognise the importance of providing supporting infrastructure alongside housing delivery. We are committed to delivering a safe and sustainable transport network throughout the new town. Our proposals will be based around a new railway station, capacity improvements to the A10 and high-quality cycle corridors. ... Waterbeach’s current railway station is at the limit of its current capacity and is located astride a level crossing which is in Network Rail’s highest risk category. The provision of a modern station relocated to the north eastern corner of the village allows the provision of facilities that could not be provided in its existing location. Longer, wider platforms with more cover, together with a bridge linking the platforms including lifts and appropriate wheelchair access will provide significant benefits for passengers. The new station will have ample cycle parking, bus stops, a taxi drop off area, and car parking to serve the village. This will provide a step change for the environment of the village. Longer term a large car park will be provided once park and ride trips can be attracted directly from the A10. As it gets busier, the relocated station will be staffed so improving the feeling of security. ... The new settlement will deliver a modern high capacity station with plenty of parking capacity to attract car drivers off the A10, freeing capacity for essential car users. ... dedicated cycle lanes will link all key destinations including the [relocated] railway station."

The RLW Estates website goes on to say: "The location of the relocated railway station will be selected to ensure accessibility is retained to residents from the existing village. Whilst it is inevitable that access distance will be increased for some residents, this is equally balanced by the fact that for other existing residents, access distance will be shorter. [Road] Commuters from the north will be encouraged to use the new park and ride facility at the relocated station to relieve pressure on the A10. ... RLW considered upgrading the existing station ... Unfortunately it became clear that the existing station is not fit for purpose and increased use of the station is not an option that is acceptable to Network Rail, Cambridgeshire County Council or South Cambridgeshire District Council. The reason for this is three-fold. 1. Safety: ... [the existing station] is located astride a level crossing, which has the highest risk rating level on Network Rail’s assessment scoring system, this means all passengers using the station are brought into conflict with rail services when accessing the platforms. 2. Capacity: ... the existing station has serious capacity issues. Through our consultation we have found that trains are frequently packed during peak times, with some users even opting to travel to the previous stop to ensure that they are able to board. Unfortunately the constraints of the site mean that while it is possible to extend the station to accommodate additional carriages up to 8 car trains, it is not possible to upgrade the access arrangements to meet current standards, and it is not possible to introduce a footbridge to make the number of pedestrian movements across the level crossing acceptable. .. 3. Accessibility: ... the existing station suffers from poor connectivity via all modes of transport. ... A significant increase in the number of passengers using the station would generate unacceptable impacts on the railway station and the surrounding area, including overspill parking for cars and bicycles, congested footways and an untenable increase in use of the level crossing, which would require the level crossing to be converted to full barrier control, or possibly closed completely."

The company's website says the benefits of a relocated station include: "Capacity for at least 8 car trains with potential future expansion up to 12 car trains; Increased station parking to reduce parking congestion in the village as well as increased cycle parking capacity; A site with sufficient space to provide a modern high quality station, with a wider range of facilities including wheelchair accessible lifts and pedestrian bridge; Improved accessibility for cars, taxis, buses, cyclists, and pedestrians; Improved safety for users with a segregated footbridge for crossing the railway instead of using the existing level crossing; Providing enough space for the station to “grow” including provision for extended station platforms and turnback [train reversing] facility and potential for a Park & Ride system, to reduce car commuting to Cambridge; Staffing of the station will improve the perception of safety."

As a rail users' group, the Association does not take a view on the wider new town development proposals. We will, of course, continue to campaign for the best possible rail service from Waterbeach - and from all other Fen Line stations. [Earlier this year, the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, King's Lynn BID Ltd, and the Association joined forces to call for a long-term strategic commitment to a double track line along the length of the Fen Line - that is "equipped to accommodate 12-car trains"].

Wednesday 22 November 2017 - The New Anglia LEP Board meets today. Agenda item 13 item states: "Ely Area Rail Enhancement Scheme (£3.3m) ‐ the initial scoping work is complete following Local Transport Body and then LEP Board approval in March 2017. The legal agreement is still being finalised, however the challenge with the availability of GCGP LEP’s funding has now been resolved. A local delegation presented the case for funding the full project to the Secretary of State for Transport who has pledged that this is a top priority. [page 60]"

Wednesday 22 November 2017 - The Greater Cambridge Partnership Executive Board meets today. Agenda item 9 recommends that the Executive Board agrees "to make up to £1.75M contribution to the development phase of Cambridge South Station, with up to £8.25M from other national and local partners" and further agrees "to make a £50,000 contribution to a feasibility study into rail capacity in Cambridgeshire, in partnership with Network Rail, Cambridgeshire County Council,and the Combined Authority." Appendix 2 [page 16 of 29] states: "... the proposed station and additional associated infrastructure will allow public transport to the [Cambridge South] station from a much larger catchment area, which will be further expanded when East–West Rail is delivered. ... Discussions are currently underway with Central Government and other local partners to agree a funding package which could potentially see the creation of a £10M fund to invest into the development phase which, will take approx. 18 months, of this project. This funding agreement has the potential to greatly accelerate the delivery of the station and the necessary associated infrastructure to support on the ongoing development of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus." Appendix 5 [Page 21 of 29] states: "It is proposed that we commission a joint study with DfT, the Combined Authority, and the County Council, aimed at identifying and considering any fully committed rail projects/programmes and the most up to date growth and demand figures to establish a baseline. The study will then assess the aspirational train services required to accommodate the forecast and latent rail based demand up to 2043 and any wider stakeholder proposals. The study is to establish the required rail interventions to allow for the appropriate rail offering to be included in future transport investment priorities. It will cost in the region of £300k and will be carried out by Network Rail over a period of 24 weeks."

Monday 20 November 2017 - "Cambridge North sees continued passenger growth six months on" reports Greater Anglia (the train company which manages the new station) today. "Over 75,000 people have used the station since it opened in May, with almost 5,000 people passing through during the week commencing 24 September, the most yet and almost double that of its opening week. Train operator Greater Anglia says that passenger numbers have continued to grow above expectations since the station opened on 21 May 2017, demonstrating its importance as a vital point of access to the business park, which was previously only accessed by road. ... In 2019, a new direct Greater Anglia Norwich to Stansted Airport service will be introduced, stopping at Cambridge North, when the company brings in a complete fleet of new trains for all services on every route on its network during 2019-20."

Monday 20 November 2017 - "Elizabeth Truss backs Norfolk to become business leader as job losses loom" reports Richard Porritt in the Eastern Daily Press. "The South West Norfolk MP said the region is set to become a 'leader in advanced manufacturing, technology, energy and engineering' ... As the local MP for South West Norfolk I am backing infrastructure projects like Ely North rail junction that will transform rail travel on the Kings Lynn and Thetford routes."

Monday 20 November 2017 - "Wide range of benefits revealed for May 2018 South East timetable" announces Govia Thameslink Railway today. The cross-London Thameslink Programme is to be introduced in four stages, over two years. From May 2018, 1 Thameslink train per hour will operate semi-fast between Cambridge and Brighton and 2 Thameslink stopping trains per hour will operate between Cambridge and King's Cross; from December 2018 the frequency of the semi-fast Thameslink Cambridge-Brighton trains will be doubled to 2tph; from December 2019 the 2 Cambridge-King's Cross Thameslink stopping trains per hour will run through London to Maidstone East. All of these Thameslink services will be additional to Great Northern's King's Lynn and Ely to King's Cross 'The Cambridge Express' services.

Saturday 18 November 2017 - Addressing the 32nd Annual General Meeting of the Association, held at Waterbeach today, FLUA Chairman Colin Sampson reviewed the events of the past year and reminded a well-filled hall: “there is serious overcrowding on the whole King’s Lynn-King’s Cross route.” Late afternoon trains from Cambridge are now a major problem. Association Secretary Andy Tyler stressed that “we are doing much behind the scenes – we look for evidence on which to back up our many responses to consultations and proposals.” Ken Hubbard, FLUA Treasurer, remarked that the Association did not possess “mega money”; measures were being taken to encourage more people to join us and strengthen our work.

Guest speaker, Lisa Barrett of Network Rail confirmed that enhancement works on the Fen Line were going ahead as fast as possible. She stressed there would be a need to close the railway at times for the upgrading works but that line closures, although unavoidable, would be kept to a minimum. The line between King’s Lynn and Ely will be closed for 5 days between Monday 12 February and Friday 16 February 2018 to permit strengthening of structures.

King’s Lynn-Cambridge 8-car scheme - Mrs Barrett said that the Waterbeach station platform extensions will require a considerable amount of piling as ground conditions are very poor. Considerable piling is needed to support a light-weight steel modular structure, which can be re-used if Waterbeach station is eventually re-located. The northbound platform at Littleport is to be extended, requiring closure of the barrow crossing. The exact arrangements for the pedestrian underpass will be determined by the outcome of the Cambridgeshire Level Crossing Reduction Inquiry, due to start on 28 November. Additional train stabling will be required at King’s Lynn – “more trains will start from King’s Lynn, early trains will leave on time” - and the new track will be located in the triangle between the main line and the Middleton Towers line. The earliest possible start of works is Autumn 2018 – “we normally need two years’ notice, but we are not doing that!”

Ely Area Capacity Enhancements - This includes incorporating additional works for more Felixstowe-Midlands freight trains and more Ipswich-Peterborough and Norwich-Cambridge services. By tackling the problems comprehensively, there will not be the need for Ely North Junction to be closed for several periods. Mrs Barrett told the audience: “You are still going to get your half-hourly King’s Lynn trains. [But] … the LEPs’ and Councils’ feasibility study has yet to determine exactly what needs to be done with signals and interlocking, overhead wires and track. It does still need doubling of the junction so you can get your half-hourly service, and it [the entire Ely Area scheme] will bring many benefits for the Anglia Region. … Don’t expect it at the beginning of Control Period 6 (2019) but it will not be pushed into Control Period 7 [starts in 2024].”

Proposed new Cambridge South station - Following AstraZeneca’s proposal for a station at the Addenbrooke’s/Cambridge Biomedical Campus site, NR has worked with many companies and bodies to develop the idea. Mrs Barrett said: “This is a really, really popular idea, with a lot of political support behind it.” She hoped that design work for a four-platform station could start soon.

Potential Waterbeach station re-location (RLW Estates’ proposal) - As part of the proposed Waterbeach new Town, RLW Estates are proposing a “high specification” station on firmer ground about 1 mile north of the existing station. RLW will be staging an Exhibition at Waterbeach on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 November before submitting planning applications. The two-platform station would accommodate 12-car trains and include a footbridge with lifts. Asked if NR would consider delaying providing platform extensions at the existing Waterbeach station, Mrs Barrett replied: “the New Town proposals cannot keep up with the progress of our 8-car scheme … we do not want to risk this not happening at all in the event of the re-location of the station never happening.”

We thank Lisa Barrett of Network Rail; Karen Gregson, Larry Heyman, Graeme Pratt and Charles Salter of Govia Thameslink Railway (Great Northern); and Alan Neville of Greater Anglia for giving up their Saturday afternoon to come and engage in a frank and open discussion with Members today.

Friday 17 November 2017 - Lord Adonis, Chairman of the National Infrastructure Commission, "urged Ministers, and council leaders across the arc covering Oxford, Milton Keynes, Bedford, Northampton and Cambridge, to "seize the opportunity" and harness the area’s economic potential. The NIC Report "Partnering for Prosperity: A new deal for the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford Arc" recommendations include: "to accelerate work on the development of the new East West Rail line between Bedford and Cambridge, and commit to open the line by 2030 [Recommendation 1a, page 37]" and "the acceleration of East West Rail phase 3 works around south Cambridge to enable the delivery of a Cambridge South station in 2022 as part of Control Period 6 [Recommendation 1c, page 39]." Councillor Mark Shaw, of the East West Rail Consortium says: "Now let's turn this into reality".

Friday 17 November 2017 - South Cambridgeshire District Council issues a statement "New rail link and station move a step closer after backing from Government advisors. A rail link connecting Cambridge and Oxford and a new station near Addenbrooke’s Hospital have both moved a step closer to becoming a reality after receiving backing from an independent transport body that advises Government.... The [National Infrastructure Commission] report recommends accelerating the East-West Rail programme to open a new station at South Cambridge by 2022."

Friday 17 November 2017 - The Cambridge Independent reports on today's National Infrastructure Commission report. Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Mayor James Palmer tells the newspaper's Ben Comber: "I welcome the National Infrastructure Commission’s report. East-West Rail and the Cambridge-Oxford expressway can transform the economic potential of the Cambridge-Oxford corridor bringing forward one million new homes by 2050. As the report makes clear, the amount the corridor generates for the national economy could increase from £90 billion per year to £250 billion. This is truly exceptional. Locally, by East-West Rail joining up with the proposed Cambridge South station will ensure that the Biomedical campus, home to Astra Zeneca and others will be properly connected to the national rail network and the new corridor." Cambridge City Council Lewis Herbert tells Mr Comber: "This major investment in rail is both welcome and overdue, and we ask the Chancellor to support all the key NIC recommendations in his Budget next Wednesday, to deliver the vital new Cambridge South station by 2022 latest and the full East West rail route from Cambridge to Milton Keynes and Oxford by 2030, as a major boost to making our growth sustainable and shifting transport from road to rail. On Cambridge South, we will be working with the mayor, the Greater Cambridge Partnership and Government to try to beat the 2022 deadline, provided Government confirms funding next week to match planned private investment and local funding contributions. Timing depends on the scale of four track and best design to maximise stopping trains and we want to get it right, and earlier than 2022 if we possibly can." Paul Brackley of the Cambridge Independent reports more here and the newspaper's Ben Comber writes "Ambitious aims for Cambridge South railway station at Addenbrooke’s to be opened before 2022. Lord Adonis’ new deal for Oxford-Cambridge corridor endorses urgent need for station on Cambridge Biomedical Campus."

Friday 17 November 2017 - "New 'Cambridge South' station at Addenbrooke's could be finished by 2022. Cllr Lewis Herbert hopes the new station could be delivered even earlier" reports Josh Thomas in the Cambridge News. "... the National Infrastructure Commission, chaired by Lord Andrew Adonis, is calling on Chancellor Philip Hammond to put aside £7bn for new transport links dubbed the 'brain belt' expressway linking Cambridge with Oxford and Milton Keynes. As part of this boost, Lord Adonis is calling for the acceleration of the East-West Rail programme, including opening a new station at South Cambridge by 2022. A new station in the area could help bring in employees for the biomedical campus, with major new employers like AstraZeneca set to open their doors on the site in the coming months. It would also improve links with London, and ease pressure on the city's central station. Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Mayor James Palmer tells the newspaper: “I have been in contact with Lord Adonis a lot and we have discussed in detail what we expect from an east-west link. The key part of that would be a new station at Addenbrooke’s. We are desperate to see that come forward. Building a two platform station there is my ambition." Cllr Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council said he hoped to have the station completed even before the 2022 deadline. ... On Cambridge South, we will be working with the Mayor, the Greater Cambridge Partnership and Government to try to beat the 2022 deadline, provided Government confirms funding next week to match planned private investment and local funding contributions. Timing depends on the scale of four track [to allow moving trains to pass stationary ones] and best design to maximise stopping trains and we want to get it right, and earlier than 2022 if we possibly can." Cllr Ian Bates, chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council’s economy and environment committee and Greater Cambridge Partnership LEP board member tells Mr Thomas: "I would be very pleased to see improved links between Oxford and Cambridge, ... But ‘east’ doesn’t stop at Cambridge. I think there is a great opportunity to extend into Suffolk and Norfolk. I think you can see the advantages, particularly for the rail network.” [The Association supports all 'The Cambridge Express' King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross and all other Fen Line services stopping at Cambridge South as well as at Cambridge North and Cambridge - our policy is to call for trains from the six Fen Line stations in Norfolk and Cambridgeshire to 'stop where the jobs are']. More reaction on the Cambridge News website here.

Friday 17 November 2017 - "Rail upgrade plans are on track" reports 'yourlocalpaper' today. "Work to ease overcrowding at peak times on the King's Lynn to London rail line is set to be completed next year, campaigners have been told. ... Darren Taylor, chairman of the King's Lynn BID and the Town Centre Partnership, said he was happy with what he was told by senior officials at Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs Great Northern. He heard the company was committed to running twice-hourly trains to and from Lynn once the Ely North junction upgrade was completed. ... 'I'll now be looking to set up a meeting with Network Rail to discuss progress on the Ely North Junction improvements to make sure King's Lynn gets the train service we have been promised and which we deserve.' ... Mr Taylor also thanked North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham for setting up the meeting."

Friday 17 November 2017 - "Network Rail has today announced the sale of its commercial property business in England and Wales. The majority of properties will be sold on a leasehold basis, reflecting that access to these properties will be required for the future operation of the railway. Private bidders are being sought to purchase Network Rail’s commercial estate portfolio, which will create a significant injection of cash to the taxpayer-owned railway infrastructure company as it focuses investment on passenger benefits." Network Rail Chief Executive Mark Carne says: "The sale will bring a major cash boost to help fund key projects across England and Wales as part of the Railway Upgrade Plan. Passengers are about to see a bigger, better railway, with more reliable, more frequent services, and upgraded stations and facilities as these huge projects finally come to a conclusion in the months ahead.” [The projects identified by Network Rail as benefiting from the sale include the Thameslink Programme, which will serve Cambridge from next year. Integrating the successful 'The Cambridge Express' King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross service into the Thameslink Programme has resulted in proposals which would see slower journey times on the Fen Line - see news item below, dated Tuesday 25 July 2017. We support the Thameslink Programme but continue to call for faster, not slower, journey times on the Kings Lynn-Cambridge-Kings Cross route].

Thursday 16 November 2017 - "ECML power supply upgrade complete" reports the Railway Magazine. "The first phase of Network Rail’s programme to upgrade 25kV AC power supplies on the East Coast Main Line (ECML) is on track for completion in time for the introduction of new train fleets in 2018. Power Supply Upgrade Phase 1 (PSU1) is a £237million scheme to modernise and uprate traction power supply between Wood Green in north London and Bawtry, south of Doncaster. The work includes the installation of seven new sub-stations at Potters Bar, Welwyn, Langley Junction and Corey’s Mill, near Stevenage, Hitchin, Little Barford and Essendine, near Stamford, where a new 400kV National Grid supply has been installed. Eleven other sub-stations have been replaced, five more refurbished, more than 600km of new cabling and 110 foundations laid, and a disused sub-station at Tallington, north of Peterborough, has been removed, saving £3m. ... Other work undertaken over the last three years includes an enhanced protection and control system, replacement of copper control cables with fibre cabling, telecoms immunisation, and conversion of the key Welwyn to Hitchin section to more reliable and robust auto-transformer equipment." The Railway Magazine points out that the work "will allow Virgin Trains East Coast and Thameslink Great Northern to introduce enhanced timetables and new trains in 2018/19."

Wednesday 15 November 2017 - Developers Brookgate are holding an exhibition of their latest proposals for the main Cambridge station area reports Josh Thomas in the Cambridge News. An ‘aparthotel’ and multi-storey car park area are planned for the area around Cambridge station. The exhibition is due to take place between 3pm and 8pm on Wednesday November 29. It will take place at Brookgate’s offices at 2 Station Place, Cambridge.

Wednesday 15 November 2017 - Two planning applications submitted by Brookgate, the developers of the 'CB1' quarter around Cambridge station - one for a 217 bed hotel, ref S/2372/17/FL and the other for a large office block with ground floor retail units, ref S/2403/17/FL - adjacent to Cambridge North station are determined today. The Joint Development Control Committee (Cambridge Fringe sites) are being recommended to approve the hotel - report here - and the office block - report here, both subject to detailed conditions. The Cambridge News covers the planning meeting live here . At 1208 Tom Pilgrim of the Cambridge News reports that Councillors have voted to approve the new hotel. Concerns over the rerouting of the cycleway have led to the office application being refused. The full Cambridge News report "Huge office block and shops plan for Cambridge North station rejected due to cycle routes" gives more details.

Both the above-mentioned reports contain illustrations which show the large scale of the current proposals, which in themselves are only early phases of the CB4 development planned around Cambridge North station. We support all Fen Line trains calling at Cambridge North (just as we support all Fen Line trains calling at a future Addenbrooke's/Biomedical Campus station at Cambridge South) - we ask for Fen Line trains to 'stop where the jobs are'.

Tuesday 14 November 2017 - "Full steam ahead for King's Lynn trains" broadcasts radio station KLFM96.7. "There's been positive talks with senior management at Govia Thameslink about improving the town's service. They told the chairman of Discover King's Lynn Darren Taylor that they will be providing eight-carriage trains. That will help the over-crowding problem many commuters face on a regular basis. Work to make that happen is expected to start in December 2018." The radio station's website reports: "There were more positive conversations about the long-awaited half-an-hour trains running from the town to Cambridge and London throughout the day. Darren said management confirmed they are committed to the expanded service after work on Ely Junction is finished." Mr Taylor says: "I want to thank Sir Henry Bellingham for setting up the meeting so I could hear for myself how these plans are coming along. I'll now be looking to set up a meeting with Network Rail to discuss progress on the Ely North junction improvements to make sure King's Lynn gets the train service we have been promised and which we deserve. I would like to reassure town centre businesses and commuters that the plans appear to be going well, but we will keep up the pressure to make sure it happens."

Tuesday 14 November 2017 - " King’s Lynn business chiefs in talks with rail bosses" reports the Lynn News today. "Talks have taken place between rail bosses and representatives of the King’s Lynn BID committee over the ongoing work to double the length of trains running between Lynn and Cambridge. ... And BID chairman Darren Taylor said he was encouraged by what he heard during a meeting with officials from Govia Thameslink, the parent company of the borough’s main train operator Great Northern. He said the firm told him it still expects to start running longer trains from December next year and remains committed to running twice-hourly trains to and from Lynn, once the long-anticipated Ely North junction upgrade is completed. ... 'I’ll now be looking to set up a meeting with Network Rail to discuss progress on the Ely North junction improvements to make sure King’s Lynn gets the train service we have been promised and which we deserve. I would like to reassure town centre businesses and commuters that the plans appear to be going well, but we will keep up the pressure to make sure it happens.' He also thanked North-West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham for setting up the meeting." The newspaper says: "In July, the BID group also joined West Norfolk Council and the Fen Line Users Association (FLUA) to call for single track sections of the line to be re-dualled. The latest comments come ahead of FLUA’s annual general meeting this weekend. The meeting will take place at the St John’s Church Room, in Station Road, Waterbeach, this Saturday, November 18, starting at 2pm."

Friday 10 November 2017 - "LIVE: Train delays at Cambridge North after car 'smashes through' level crossing barrier. The incident has affected trains between Cambridge and Cambridge North station" reports Tara Cox in the Cambridge News. Ross Easton from Network Rail tells the paper: “Shortly before 7am this morning a vehicle struck and damaged the level crossing barriers at Chesterton. We sent our team in orange out to the scene quickly and the barriers were replaced by 9am.” [Level crossing abuse is the greatest risk to train travellers as well as causing delays to rail users trying to get to work or attend business and hospital appointments. Network Rail is currently promoting the closure/alteration of many level crossings in Cambridgeshire - though not that at Fen Lane, Chesterton, the site of today's scene; we have supported Network Rail's plans for 14 crossings on the King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross route. See news items immediately below, and those dated Monday 10 April 2017 and Wednesday 10 May 2017].

Friday 10 November 2017 - Network Rail publishes its Design Guide for its Cambridgeshire level crossings reduction plans. This states: "The Strategy is being coordinated with other projects in the Anglia region where there are relevant interfaces, such as the Network Rail Kings Lynn Service Enhancement scheme. [Paragraph 1.1.2.4]. "The proposals for C31 Littleport station are described as: "Proposals that will facilitate grade-separated access from each side of the railway as part of another Network Rail Scheme." The detailed wording of NR's proposal reads: "At Littleport Station the existing carriageway beneath the railway underbridge will be restricted (by bollards) to use by non-motorised users only via a new raised footway (approximately 30m in length). These works will, with the station works proposed under the Network Rail Kings Lynn Service Enhancement scheme (a separate scheme not part of the Anglia Level Crossing Reduction Strategy), enable grade-separated access to the station platforms from each side of the railway [page 46 of 77]."

Friday 9 November 2017 - Formal notice of the Public Inquiry into the Proposed Network Rail (Cambridgeshire Level Crossing Reduction) Order has been published today.

Thursday 9 November 2017 - "New era beckons for Downham Market railway station pub site" reports the Lynn News. "Train company bosses say they have found a new tenant to take over the former Railway Arms premises, at Downham’s station. "This week, a Great Northern spokesman said: 'We are very pleased to announce there will be a new tenant taking on the lease of the existing coffee shop and pub at Downham Market station. We are working with the tenant to finalise plans and hope to announce details and their opening date very soon.” South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss tells the Lynn News “Downham Market is a key gateway to the Fens, welcoming tourists and commuters on a daily basis. Part of the charm and popularity of the station has been the welcoming atmosphere in the Railway Arms so I look forward to seeing the new facilities when it is open in the very near future.”

Thursday 9 November 2017 - "What is happening with the new Costa at Cambridge North? The waiting game goes on for train travellers" reports Chris Elliott in the Cambridge News. "Cambridge's swish new station still hasn't got a shop or a Costa six months on from its opening date. And it's by no means certain when it will have. Trains started running at Cambridge North back in May this year, and operator Greater Anglia has confirmed it plans to open retail facilities - a Costa coffee shop, and a small Co-op store." A spokeswoman for Great Anglia tells the newspaper: "In terms of the two units at Cambridge North, the lease terms are still being negotiated, I'm afraid I don't have a definite date when the shop/coffee shop will open. In the meantime, passengers are still able to buy coffee from Tribecca, the cycle-powered coffee cart outside the station." Other Cambridge North news in the Cambridge News today is written by Josh Thomas: "This is what the new hotel, shops and offices at Cambridge North could be like. The hotel and planned offices and shops would be the start of a new city district. Cambridge is on its way to having a whole new district as plans for a new hotel, offices and shops near Cambridge North station move forward. ... Plans are also under way to build a large new building that has shops on the ground floor and offices on higher storeys on the Cambridge North 'Station Square'". The Joint Development Control Committee (Cambridge Fringe Sites) will be discussing whether to grant planning permission for application S/2372/17/FL at its meeting to be held on Wednesday 15 November 2017 - the Agenda for that meeting is here - pages 81-124 refer. [We support all Fen Line trains calling at Cambridge North (just as we support all Fen Line trains calling at a future Addenbrooke's/Biomedical Campus station at Cambridge South) - we ask for Fen Line trains to 'stop where the jobs are'].

Wednesday 8 November 2017 - East Cambridgeshire District Council has today published its Proposed Submission Local Plan, which includes housing expansion at Ely and Littleport, places where there are Fen Line stations. The main document is here. Relevant diagrams include those for Ely, Littleport, and Queen Adelaide [the latter is where Ely North Junction is located]. ECDC is consulting on the proposals and the consultation runs until Tuesday 19 December 2017.

Wednesday 8 November 2017 - "Littleport - The single line crossover for King's Lynn-London trains may be transferred from Downham Market to make the proposed half-hourly timetable more robust, but it could increase journey times by eight minutes. However the provision of eight-coach trains soon will eliminate the splitting of trains at Cambridge" reports RAIL magazine [page 25, issue 839].

Tuesday 7 November 2017 - "Congestion busting bypass moves a step closer for Ely" reports Kath Samsom in the Ely Standard. Her article gives details of how the road scheme, which is due to open in Summer 2018, is progressing. A spokesman for East Cambs District Council tells the newspaper: “The area around Ely station is currently heavily congested with lorries and other larger vehicles not able to use the low underpass. The bypass will ease congestion in Ely, reduce the need for traffic to pass the railway station and allow the level crossing to be closed."

Tuesday 7 November 2017 - "Ely gets ready to open a new car park from Monday - ... next to the rail station" writes John Elworthy in the Ely Standard. "Ely gets a new car park from Monday – with space for 128 vehicles – and ideally placed for commuters heading to London from the rail station.... First customers can use the park from Monday and the extra spaces will provide uplift to the neighbouring Angel Drove car park that has always filled to its 143 capacity quite quickly. ... Councillor Bill Hunt, chairman of the [East Cambridgeshire District Council] asset development committee, will cut a tape at The Dock and officially open it at 7am." Councillor Hunt tells the Ely Standard: "the new Cambridge North Station is now open and many new homes will be built in north Ely thus putting more demand on parking near the main rail station. Within a few months another new East Cambs Council station car park will be opening at Littleport to support the growth of this expanding community.”

Monday 6 November 2017 - "RLW have told us that they are arranging an exhibition about their forthcoming planning application for “up to 5,000 homes at Waterbeach New Town, and the proposed move of Waterbeach Train Station. ... RLW are one of the two main promoters of Waterbeach New Town. They have not yet submitted a Planning Application (Urban and Civic submitted their Outline Application to South Cambridgeshire District Council earlier this year)" announces Waterbeach Parish Council. The exhibition will be at the Salvation Army Hall, 7 Station Road, Waterbeach, CB25 9HT on Friday November 24th: 15:30 – 19:30 and Saturday November 25th: 10:00 – 15:00." [RLW Estates' website is at www.waterbeach.co.uk].

Monday 6 November 2017 - "First new Thameslink trains arrive on Peterborough route" says GTR. "For now, the trains will continue to run on two peak hour services to and from King’s Cross [and Peterborough] but from May they and many others operating to Peterborough and Cambridge will start to operate through new tunnels to St Pancras. ... A new timetable will be introduced in phases from May 2018 and will provide significant capacity increases into London in the morning peak: Cambridge: by the time the programme is complete almost twice as many carriages and almost double the number of standard class seats – 4,600 more vs 5,000 with over 2,000 more additional fast service seats." [The class 700 trains referred to currently run from St. Pancras to destination such as Brighton, Gatwick, Luton and Bedford, and will not be used on the Great Northern fast King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross services]. GTR also says: "Foxton, Meldreth and Shepreth: Northbound platforms are being lengthened for eight-carriage trains and the stations will get eight-carriage new Thameslink trains, unlike the mostly 4-carriage trains they receive today." [Network Rail's King's Lynn-Cambridge 8-car project envisages the existing class 387 units running as 8-car trains to/from King's Lynn. See page 33 of 188].

Sunday 5 November 2017 - "5,000-home development and railway station plans for Waterbeach on show at exhibitions" writes Ben Comber in the Cambridge Independent. "Waterbeach residents will this month get a better look at how a 5,000-home development and relocation of the railway station could change the village. RLW Estates is proposing up to 5,000 homes on a site to the east of a further 6,500 homes that are being planned for the former barracks site by Urban & Civic." Nick Dines, director of Belgrave, which co-ordinates consultations for the project, tells the newspaper: “The exhibition will be looking more at the vision we have for Waterbeach, and we’ll be looking in more detail at how we would move the railway station. It’s a very exciting development.” The Cambridge Independent says: "The developers have previously said that the railway station suffers from poor connectivity via all modes of transport and increased use of it as it stands is not an option. They propose moving it north of the current site, which means Station Road residents would face a walk of 15-20 minutes or a bike ride of six to eight minutes to reach it. They envisage a local shuttle service running along the tracks between Ely and Cambridge that would be utilised by residents and commuters. Public exhibitions on Friday, November 24 and Saturday, November 25 will be held at The Salvation Army, 7 Station Road Waterbeach."

Sunday 5 November 2017 - "Whitehall to overhaul rail network to bring strike-hit Southern into line. Mandarins are plotting the break-up of the biggest and most troubled rail franchise as they attempt to overhaul the network mid a backdrop of strikes and threatened renationalisation" says John Collingridge in today's Sunday Times. "Officials in the Department for Transport last month told rail industry insiders they wanted to break up the vast Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) franchise, which includes the strike-torn Southern Rail line between London and Brighton. ... The GTR franchise, which expires in 2021, is an amalgamation of the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern routes. The troubled Southern route is expected to be hived off to be run under supervision. Industry experts reckon lines out of London's Moorgate could also be separated. ... The department [DfT] said: 'We are actively looking at the shape and size of the next Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise on expiry of the existing contract in 2021.'" [Kings Lynn-Kings Cross services are part of Great Northern].

Thursday 2 November 2017 - The Greater Cambridge Partnership Joint Assembly meets today. The Agenda for the meeting includes a Quarterly progress Report (item 10) which covers Cambridge South station (Appendix 2) and the Cambridgeshire Rail Study (Appendix 5). The report says: "From a regional and a national perspective, the CBC [Cambridge Biomedical Campus, which includes Addenbrooke's Hospital] is a key strategic asset. The CBC will play a leading role in the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy, as a key contributor to the Cambridge biotech cluster, and the sector’s ‘golden triangle’ of Oxford, Cambridge and London. Over the next decade, the campus will become the largest concentration of healthcare and biomedical research and teaching in Europe. ... the proposed station will allow public transport to the station from a much larger catchment area, which will be further expanded when East–West Rail is delivered. ... Discussions are currently underway with Central Government and other local partners to agree a funding package which could potentially see the creation of a £10M fund to invest into the development phase of this project. This funding agreement has the potential to greatly accelerate the delivery of the station and support on the ongoing development of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. As part of this development phase, the Executive Board will be asked to agree to make up to £1.75M contribution, with up to £8.25M from other national and local partners." The report also says, in respect of the Cambridgeshire Rail Study: "It is proposed that we commission a joint study with DfT, the Combined Authority, and the County Council, aimed at identifying and considering any fully committed rail projects/programmes and the most up to date growth and demand figures to establish a baseline. The study will then assess the aspirational train services required to accommodate the forecast and latent rail based demand up to 2043 and any wider stakeholder proposals. The study is to establish the required rail interventions to allow for the appropriate rail offering to be included in future transport investment priorities. It will cost in the region of £300k and will be carried out by Network Rail over a period of 24 weeks. The cost is to be split 50% DfT with the remaining 50% being split equally amongst the other three partners, i.e. £50,000 each. Therefore, the Executive Board will be asked to support the allocation of £50,000 as its contribution to the study." [Just as we are calling for all Fen Line trains to stop at Cambridge North, we also support a new Addenbrooke's/Biomedical Campus station at Cambridge South - we want Fen Line trains to 'stop where the jobs are'. All six Fen Line stations currently see commuting traffic to Cambridge and to London. Kings Lynn , Watlington, and Downham Market are in Norfolk, Littleport, Ely, Waterbeach are in Cambridgeshire]. "The Joint Assembly discussed, noted and indicated their overall support of the recommendations to the Executive Board regarding Cambridge South Station, ... and the Cambridgeshire rail study."

Tuesday 31 October 2017 - "Could a huge cash boost for Cambridge's third station soon be announced?" asks Josh Thomas in the Cambridge News. "There are hopes the government will “stump up” a significant amount of cash to help build a new “Cambridge South” railway station when the Autumn Budget is announced next month. A new railway station in the south of Cambridge would help ease the burden of new homes and new jobs as major companies like pharma giants AstraZeneca and the new Papworth hospital move to the area. ... Last week, the News reported that the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority had set aside £1.75million towards a study into the feasibility of a new station near Addenbrooke’s hospital and the biomedical campus, and a business case for it. Cambridge City Council Leader, Councillor Lewis Herbert, tells the Cambridge News: "Along with our other partners, we have assembled £10 million of funding to get a detailed mission statement together. We are hopeful that the report from the National infrastructure Commission, which we are expecting in a few weeks’ time, and the budget, will give us the support from the government. ... We have had several meetings with representatives of the National Infrastructure Commission and have asked for a clear route within the next 18 months for an east–west connection, which could join up with the network in the Cambridge South area. ... I think we are now looking at a serious station with four tracks rather than two. This means the buttons can’t be pressed as quickly as the previous scheme, so there is no agreed date yet, but who knows?" Councillor Ian Bates, Chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council's Economy and Environment Committee tells the newspaper he has high hopes the government would "stump up" significant sums: "I think the thing I would say is fingers crossed ... We have done everything we can locally and everyone agrees they want it. I think we’ve got to wait for the Chancellor’s statement. Watch this space.” Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mayor James Palmer is reported as wanting to see progress "as soon as possible."

Tuesday 31 October 2017 - " Rail industry promises to work together to help East Anglia’s passengers" writes Paul Geater in the East Anglian Daily Times. "The Rail Delivery Group, which represents train companies and Network Rail, has drawn up a new plan to improve services called 'In Partnership for Britain’s Prosperity.' As part of this it published a poll of East Anglian business leaders that showed 77% believe that joint private/public investment in the rail network will boost the economy. The report does not contain specific promises of new investment like a commitment to rebuild the Haughley junction on the Great Eastern main line or a timescale to rebuild Ely North junction. But it does pledge to increase passenger satisfaction with rail services and to create more jobs." Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia tells the EADT: “The railway is key to the long-term prosperity of the Anglia region. Operating as a partnership railway, with income from both public and private sectors, we are bringing vital investment that will improve services for business, communities and passengers, which is critical to powering economic growth. This plan will benefit the region now and make Anglia a place where people want to live, work and invest.”

Saturday 28 October 2017 - As a special service to members, we are pleased to pass on a 25% discount offer on the price of FLUA Member Rob Shorland-Ball's forthcoming book Cambridge station - its development and operation as a rail centre. The book is due to be published on 30 November.

Friday 27 October 2017 - "Civic reception celebrates railway anniversary" - the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk marks the 25th anniversary of electric trains from King's Lynn here.

[Key dates: The Fen Line King's Lynn to Cambridge electrification scheme was authorised on Tuesday 7 February 1989 at a cost of £20.5m (£11m infrastructure and £9.5m rolling stock); Ely Route Rationalisation and Resignalling was authorised on Monday 2 July 1990 at a cost of £11.73m; the electrification was formally opened by the late HM the Queen Mother on Tuesday 28 July 1992; test train 302998 'proved' the completion of the work on Tuesday 18 August 1992; unit 317309 worked the first electric service train into and out of King's Lynn on Saturday 22 August 1992; Borough Mayor the late Mike Tilbury formally flagged away the first working of 'The Fenman' service from King's Lynn to King's Cross on Monday 24 August 1992, the first 'official' day of full electric working].

Friday 27 October 2017 - "Train and car in ‘near miss’at Watlington" reports the YLP News Team on todays 'yourlocalpaper'. "A car was able to cross in front of an oncoming train because of an error by the signaller, an investigation has concluded. The near miss happened on a level crossing at Watlington on August 9 when the barriers were wrongly allowed to open automatically." [See news items below, dated Thursday 19 October 2017 and Friday 20 October 2017].

Thursday 26 October 2017 - "'We must continue fight for rail improvements' , campaigners say as King’s Lynn line electrification anniversary is marked" reports the Lynn News. A civic reception was held at Lynn’s town hall on Wednesday, just two weeks after ministers gave their strongest signal yet of significant future investment in the route. ... former Lynn News editor Malcolm Powell, who was a leading figure in the electrification fight, said: 'We won the first 25 year battle. We now have to win the second.' ... Fen Line Users Association chairman Colin Sampson said the success of the line since it was electrified enables the current calls for improvements ranging from longer trains to the re-dualling of tracks that were downgraded to allow for the electrification to take place." The article continues: "The reception followed the news earlier this month that transport secretary Chris Grayling had signalled his intention for the Ely upgrade to proceed during the next spending round, which runs from 2019 to 2024." North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham had sent a message: “Now is not the time to rest on our laurels and we need to progress with Ely north junction. We must all work together to ensure that commitment is honoured.' The Lynn News also reports: "Work is also understood to be progressing to enable longer trains to run regularly along the line from late next year or early 2019."

Thursday 26 October 2017 - "This bridge is the most bashed in Britain: You'd have thought there are enough warnings and signs up there." Josh Thomas on another Cambridge News Fen Line story: "Stuntney Road bridge in Ely [Ely station] has been awarded the unfortunate title of the nation's “most bashed bridge”, having been hit, on average, once a month since 2009. Despite warning signs, tall vehicles have hit the bridge or got wedged under it 113 times since 2009. And strikes at this bridge, which have cost rail passengers 36 hours in delays and £109,000 in the last five years. ... Network Rail and TFL are calling on haulage companies and drivers of high vehicles to check their height and plan their routes, to help reduce these numbers and keep the travelling public safe." [The Cambridge News article is illustrated with photographs of some of the all too frequent bridge strikes at Ely station. When this (or any other) bridge is struck, the resultant delays for rail passengers can be severe, causing rail users to be late for work, miss business appointments, and have other arrangements disrupted. This comes at a monetary and productivity cost. Once the Ely Southern Bypass, now under construction with the works very visible to Fen Line users, is opened, there will be an alternative route for through road traffic which currently uses the Ely station level crossing and bridge].

Thursday 26 October 2017 - Josh Thomas writes for the Cambridge News today:" £1.7m to make Cambridge South railway station a reality. The Combined Authority wants to see progress on this 'sooner rather than later'. ... Another new railway station in Cambridge has been earmarked as a transport priority by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority. It is hoped the station, which would be situated near Addenbrooke’s hospital and the biomedical campus, will provide access to a major employment site which will support new homes and 16,000 existing, and 7,000 new jobs, with further growth planned as AstraZeneca and Papworth hospital move to the area." [We support a new station at Cambridge South, wishing Fen Line trains to 'stop where the jobs are']. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mayor James Palmer tells the Cambridge News: "There is a pressing need for the station and I believe that the current timescales aren't ambitious enough. I'm keen for the Combined Authority to play a significant role in ensuring that Cambridge South station comes live sooner rather than later. 'I believe that the current timescales aren't ambitious enough'."

Wednesday 25 October 2017 - Out today, RAIL magazine no 838 contains an article comparing rail journeys in differing parts of the country, written by Howard Johnston. Under the title "The worst experience: Great Northern" Mr Johnston writes: "it has already been said that 1969 wasn't a good year to travel on the railways. If you live in Norfolk, you might think that 2017 isn't very good either. A Govia Thameslink Railway Great Northern journey from King's Lynn to Cambridge and London King's Cross is a clear demonstration that investing millions of Pounds in new rolling stock can still result in a thoroughly poor journey experience. At the heart of the problem are the new Class 387 electric units. They are simply not fit for purpose, especially for those who have paid a high premium to travel First Class. ..."

Wednesday 25 October 2017 - We have published issue 3/2017 of The Fenman today; we have emailed and posted copies to Members. This issue contains Notice of the AGM to be held at Waterbeach Church Room (near to the station) on Saturday 18 November 2017, starting at 1400. The Fenman includes" Hard class or soft?", "'Eccentric' is not the word for it", "New luggage racks for the Lady" and "It's the passengers who are doing the running" as well as a rolling stock comparison chart. Members can access a full chart, comparing 11 types of past, current and proposed Fen Line train types, located in the Members' section of the website.

Wednesday 25 October 2017 - The New Anglia Local Enterprise partnership meets today - the Agenda for the meeting is here. Managing Director Chris Starkie reports in Item 10: "Doug Field [LEP Chairman] and Chris Starkie participated in a meeting with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to discuss future Government funding for rail infrastructure improvements to the Ely area. The delegation was led by Chief Secretary to the Treasury and South West Norfolk MP Liz Truss and included fellow MPs from Norfolk and Suffolk as well as representatives from the GCGP LEP, Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Council and the rail industry. New Anglia LEP with GCGP and the rail freight industry are together funding the outline business case which will take the project to “shovel ready” state by mid-2019. At this point the delivery of the project can be funded by Network Rail. Mr Grayling confirmed the Ely scheme was a national priority for Control Period 6 – which is the period from 2019 to 24 and all parties resolved to do whatever was needed to ensure work could start as soon as possible at the beginning of CP6 [page 24 of 43]." Item 13 gives an 'Update on Live Projects' [page 30 of 43] - "Ely Area Rail Enhancement Scheme (£3.3m)‐ the initial scoping work is complete following Local Transport Body and then LEP Board approval in March 2017. However there has been a delay to getting the legal agreement finalised, due to challenges with the availability of GCGP LEP’s funding. This has delayed the delivery timetable. A plan to agree the contracts is underway as a matter of urgency."

Wednesday 25 October 2017 - The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Board meets today and will discuss Priority Transport Schemes (excluding those currently being promoted, funded and/or developed independently of the Combined Authority, including Ely North Junction and East West Rail). The Board is being recommended to approve £0.75m in the current Financial Year to progress the Feasibility Study and Business Case for Cambridge South Station. The report [Page 7, Agenda item 3.1] states: "The £1.0m funding for 18/19 is to complete the Feasibility and Business Case development of Cambridge South Station. This is in addition to the 0.75m outlined above [for 17/18]. Discussions are currently underway with Central Government and other local partners to agree a funding package which could potentially see a further £8.25m invested into the development of this project. This funding agreement has the potential to greatly accelerate the delivery of the station and support on the ongoing development of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus." The report also states: "There are also a small number of key projects which, whilst not requiring investment during 17/18, will still be actively pursued by the Combined Authority during the current financial year. The Combined Authority will engage will potential delivery partners to secure funding and commitment so that these schemes can progress early in 18/19. Such projects will include the A10 Foxton Level Crossing ...." Appendix 1, which gives information on the shortlist, is here. Appendix 2 - Evaluation Criteria - is here. The latter sets out the basis of the system to be used for the preparation of Strategic, Economic, Management/Deliverability and Financial Cases; it includes positive factors such as increased capacity, improved connectivity, better reliability and shorter journey times, and their negative equivalents, in an 8x8 scoring matrix and gives a good indication of the depth of analysis necessary when promoting rail and other transport schemes.

Tuesday 24 October 2017 - "People fear a hamlet will be 'destroyed' in a major rail upgrade: Network Rail has no plans to close any level crossings in Queen Adelaide but some people aren't convinced" writes Tom Pilgrim in the Cambridge News. "Plans to upgrade a major rail junction near Ely will "destroy" a hamlet because its level crossings won't be able to cope, it is feared. Queen Adelaide are concerned changes to the Ely North junction could lead to the closure of the B1382 Ely Road through the village. Three level crossings and a railway bridge currently intersect the road carrying trains through Ely to King's Lynn, Norwich and Peterborough. Businesses and rail operators say the junction upgrade will boost the region's economy through greater passenger and freight train numbers. The government says it will be a high priority from 2019 to 2024. Network Rail says there are currently "no plans" to close any level crossings and is leading an £8.8million feasibility study into the potential impact of the scheme. But residents remain unconvinced by the reassurances of Network Rail and Cambridgeshire County Council and have set up a campaign group to highlight their concerns." Rupert Moss-Eccardt, who lives at Queen Adelaide and who is one of those setting up the new campaign group, tells the Cambridge News: "I felt we should come together as a community to make it clear that closure is unacceptable. The response has been strong. Clearly people are very worried." Network Rail responded by telling the newspaper: "We are currently in the very early stages of looking at the road and rail issues in the Ely area. This is the research phase, which will inform the development of any potential solution to increase the number of trains that pass through the area. We do not have any plans to close the crossings but we know that putting more trains over them will mean that they have to be upgraded, which will impact on the road traffic in the area. The scheme is not fully funded and any solution would have to demonstrate value for money for the taxpayer, and the statutory process for a scheme of this scale would require public consultation so no decisions will be taken lightly or quickly."

Tuesday 24 October 2017 - "Promise made to improve Ely North junction - but you may have to wait years" writes Anna Savva in the Cambridge News. . "An upgrade to a major rail junction has been promised - but travellers will have to wait another two years until work could start. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has met with local MPs and councillors, as well as representatives of LEPs and train and freight operators, to discuss the problems at Ely North junction. ... Mr Grayling told MPs getting improvements underway would be a high priority from 2019 to 2024 - despite a spokesman for the Department for Transport (DfT) confirming it will continue to be reviewed and saying 'affordability' would be a key consideration. ... A spokesman for the DfT said the project was 'key' for the region. He added: “Improving the bottleneck around Ely Junction is key to the delivery of improved rail services for much of East Anglia, with the benefits extending to the midlands and the north. 'We are committed to improving journeys for passengers and rail users focusing on delivering a dependable railway, with an increased focus on punctuality and reliability.' West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock tells the Cambridge News: "It is excellent news that the Transport Secretary has agreed to upgrade the rail junction at Ely. Chris Grayling met with East Anglian MPs to discuss the issue and I am pleased that the Department for Transport has taken the decision to unblock the bottleneck at Ely junction - the effects will be considerable. It's important to relieve a bottleneck for rail transport in Suffolk and the rest of East Anglia."

Friday 20 October 2017 - "Near miss between car and train " - the Lynn News reports the Magdalen Road [Magdalen] incident today, as does the Eastern Daily Press: "Near miss after signaller forgot to follow level crossing procedures." [See news item immediately below, dated Wednesday 19 October 2017]

"Thursday 19 October 2017 - The Rail Accident Investigation branch publishes a Safety Bulletin relating to the near miss at Magdalen Road [Watlington station] level crossing on Wednesday 9 August 2017. [See news item below, dated Wednesday 6 September 2017].

Wednesday 18 October 2017 - "Full steam ahead as minister signals major boost for Wisbech rail and Fenland’s future prosperity" reports the Fenland Citizen. "MP Steve Barclay says Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has finally turned the key to unlocking essential transport schemes in Fenland and bringing economic growth to the area. The North East Cambridgeshire MP welcomed Mr Grayling’s commitment for a multi-million pound upgrade to Ely North rail junction and says it is the scheme Fenland has been waiting for. ... The Conservative MP is confident the scheme, which is included in the next round of government spending for 2019 to 2024, will go-ahead sooner rather than later." Mr Barclay tells the paper: “Obviously we have a strong preference for it starting early in the control period, and I feel confident that will happen as there is so much ministerial support for it. We have both the economic secretary and the transport secretary backing it, plus support of a treasury minister, and four MPs all pushing for this to happen. This is hugely significant, both for the scheme and for Fenland. Frankly it is the key we have been waiting for. Ely North junction is a bottleneck – a major blockage to improving rail services across Fenland. The upgrade will remove that blockage and will strengthen the business case for the Wisbech to Cambridge service and will also allow improved services to the other Fenland stations.” The newspaper goes on to say: "Mr Grayling’s commitment was announced following a meeting with the area’s MPs and rail campaigners on Wednesday. The upgrade is also critical in enabling a half-hourly service between King’s Lynn and London’s King’s Cross."

Monday 16 October 2017 - Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling gives oral evidence to the House of Commons Transport Select Committee today on Policy priorities for the Department for Transport. Lilian Greenwood (MP for Nottingham South) chairs the Committee, of which Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner is also a member. Mr Grayling told the Committee: "We are also not setting aside now all the enhancement money that we will put in place over the next five years. We have taken the decision that we will start with the initial total of around £9 billion, but we expect to provide money for other projects as time goes by." The questioning continued: "[Q106] Chair: Have you set out what enhancements that £9 billion is meant to pay for? Is it for things carried over from CP5, or for something else? Chris Grayling: We have not set it out in great detail yet. The two things I have confirmed are that we will do the Ely junction and the trans-Pennine modernisation. [Q107] Chair: When can we expect to see more detail on what that money is intended to be used for? Chris Grayling: In due course. On the trans-Pennine route, we will have to wait and see what the Network Rail proposal is. We are doing the work on Ely junction at the moment. The other area that will get investment is around Bristol. Those are probably the three decisions that we have taken. They are not the only decisions that we have, but they are the three things I have set out very clearly that we will do. [Q108] Chair: When can we expect further clarity on the detail? Chris Grayling: I will set it out in the coming weeks."

Monday 16 October 2017 - "Residents fear Ely North junction upgrade could lead to level crossing closures in their village" reports the Eastern Daily Press. "Last week, South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss announced upgrades to the Ely North junction will be going ahead. This will mean more frequent passenger and freight services will pass through Queen Adelaide on Ely Road, where crossings for the King’s Lynn, Peterborough and Norwich lines are located within half a mile. A feasibility study into the project is currently under way and could be completed before spring next year. But residents in Queen Adelaide are concerned one or more of the crossings will be closed as a result of the upgrade to avoid traffic build up and long queues in the area. Risk assessments of the crossings by Network Rail places them at high risk to the general public. ... One resident, former county councillor Rupert Moss-Eccardt, said decisions might have already been made if the feasibility study is to be completed in the next couple of months. He said drivers getting to and from the village may be directed towards Queen Adelaide Way or circle around Littleport via Branch Bank." [The Feasibility Study is expected to report by March 2019 and will be examining possible options and making reccommendations - it is correct to say that at this stage no decisions have been made - the range of possible options has not yet been determined. We continue to press for the fastest possible resolution of the problems at this major regional rail bottleneck and for the introduction of the committed 'half-hourly' Kings Lynn-Kings Cross rail service which such a resolution will enable].

Friday 13 October 2017 - "Rail junction upgrade work 'will happen’, says minister - MPs jubilant after government commitment to opening Lynn line bottleneck" writes Allister Webb on page 12 of today's Lynn News. "MPs and rail campaigners say they have secured a commitment to work on the Ely north junction [Cambs], following a meeting with the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, on Wednesday. But it could still be several years yet before the long-awaited scheme finally gets underway. The project is thought to be critical to enabling twice-hourly trains to run between Lynn and London King’s Cross, along with a raft of other service improvements across East Anglia." Elizabeth Truss MP tells the newspaper: "This is fantastic news, we have been campaigning for years for this and it will definitely be going ahead. I am delighted that the Transport Secretary fully understood all the points we raised and that he has given this commitment today." Sir Henry Bellingham MP says the meeting had been "'one of the most successful meetings' he has had with a senior minister during his Parliamentary career." He tells the paper: "This will be an incredible boost to the region and the UK as a whole, investing in key infrastructure that will really transform rail travel in Norfolk." FLUA Chairman and Borough Councillor Colin Sampson says: “I have rarely been at a more positive meeting in any capacity as this one. Many big projects in this area can now proceed beyond proposal stages as a result of this commitment.”

Friday 13 October 2017 - The Lynn News also reports that King’s Lynn BID chairman Darren Taylor welcomes the government commitment, but "says the rail industry must get on with its study of the project. He told the newspaper: "It is disappointing that, having been started earlier this year, this will not be finished until 2019. This pushes the likely start date back from the earliest funding opportunity, which is that year. We therefore urge our MPs to insist that the feasibility study is finished more quickly, as it would be in the private sector, so the Secretary of State can sign off the release of funds for a 2019 start date." Mr Taylor says he would be "meeting rail operators later this month to call for further work to dual single line sections of track in order to reduce delays."

Friday 13 October 2017 - "Minister gives assurance over rail project start date" reports today's 'yourloclapaper'[page 4]. "Campaigners have this week been assured important rail junction improvements will definitely go ahead some time between 2019 and 24. The pledge was secured from transport secretary Chris Grayling at a meeting on Wednesday. South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss led a delegation of fellow MPs, business and council leaders, rail users and freight operators as part of their ongoing campaign to keep the £35m Ely Rail Enhancement Programme a government priority." Ms Truss tells the paper: "The project, the first of its kind in the UK, will see a partnership investment of £8.8m pay for detailed feasibility work to be completed before the junction improvement options can be considered."

Thursday 12 October 2017 - "Work on 79 extra parking spaces at Littleport railway station begins - and should be complete by Christmas" writes Seb Pearce in the Ely Standard. "Councillor Bill Hunt, chairman of the council’s asset development committee said: 'These spaces are much needed and are a significant boost for people who want to use Littleport station to get to work. Alongside the extra spaces which are being built at Ely train station, and coupled with the opening of the new Cambridge North railway station, it means that travelling to work by train for people in our district has become much more viable." The newspaper reports that "The Littleport station car parking charges will remain the same and the spaces are scheduled to be completed before Christmas." [16 additional car parking spaces have recently been constructed at King's Lynn station as well].

Thursday 12 October 2017 - Network Rail Chief Executive Mark Carne comments on today's government funding announcement, saying: ""Continued high levels of investment in our railway is essential to create the jobs, housing and economic boost our country needs to prosper. Today's announcement shows the Government's endorsement of this approach. Over the next 12-18 months millions of passengers will experience significant improvements to their services as thousands of new trains, faster and more frequent services come on-stream. ... We will submit our detailed plans to the regulator in the next few months that will help to finalise the railways funding for the five years to 2024 and continue to drive our company's transformation to better equip it for the demands ahead." [Current proposals for the 2018 Great Northern timetable envisage longer journey times between King's Lynn and London and the committed 'half-hourly' service between Kings Lynn and Kings Cross, which should have started in May this year, awaits resolution of the Ely North Junction and other issues].

Thursday 12 October 2017 - The Transport Secretary Chris Grayling unveils the "latest stage in the government’s record investment in Britain’s railways. He set out the next round of rail funding, announcing that around £48 billion will be spent on the network over a 5 year period, from 2019 to 2024, including more maintenance and a huge uplift in renewals to increase reliability and punctuality for passengers. The funding comes on top of record rail funding over the past 5 years as the government delivered the biggest rail modernisation for over a century ... [he] confirmed there will also be a new funding process for major upgrades and enhancements which will provide more rigour in investment decisions to make sure public spending best meets the needs of passengers and freight. The Statement of funds available for the rail industry continues the government’s record investment with a direct grant of up to £34.7 billion for spending between 2019 and 2024. Total spending will be around £47.9 billion once Network Rail’s expected income is calculated and added to the pot. Today’s announcement includes funding for the early stages of developing new rail schemes. But, in a departure from the previous approach, the government will allocate funds separately for major upgrades following a new process to ensure they are deliverable and secure the best value for money for the tax payer. This new process will be set out in more detail later this year." The Statement of Funds Available states [page 3 of 5] : "the Secretary of State expects decisions regarding specific enhancements to be dealt with separately, building on the principles set out in the ‘Memorandum of Understanding between Department for Transport and Network Rail on rail enhancements,’ and this statement makes no commitments to specific enhancements."

Thursday 12 October 2017 - KLFM96.7 announces: "A big step forward for Norfolk's train services. It's what train commuters in West Norfolk have been waiting to hear. The latest news on plans for the Ely North Junction could also be a big boost for our local economy too." As well as showing a photograph of the delegation which met Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling yesterday, the radio station's website shows a photograph of the interior of a class 387/1 train, the type which has been recently introduced on King's Lynn-King's Cross services.

Thursday 12 October 2017 - A delegation presenting the economic and business case for the Ely Area Enhancement Programme has been told the project is a ‘top priority’" says the New Anglia LEP. "The project, which is the first of its kind in the UK, will see both the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP and New Anglia LEP fund technical and feasibility work associated with the Ely area, including Ely North Junction. This study, carried out by Network Rail, will provide options for funders to increase rail capacity and provide improvements for both freight and passenger services from King’s Cross to King’s Lynn, Ipswich to Peterborough and Felixstowe to Nuneaton and beyond. £2.2 million will be provided by the Strategic Freight Network, and £3.3 million each from the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP and New Anglia LEP, making the total partnership investment of £8.8 million. The investment will also fund Network Rail to complete a business case, to demonstrate the value of investment by government and other potential funders. The Transport Secretary told the delegation he wanted to press on with the upgrade during Control Period 6 (CP6) which runs from 2019-2024. Doug Field, Chairman of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: 'We are delighted that the Secretary of State has confirmed the case for improvements at Ely North is compelling and a priority for Government. It will bring huge improvements for passengers in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Also services connecting the UK’s busiest container port at Felixstowe with the Midlands and the North will be greatly enhanced. This project will deliver jobs and economic growth for the East.'”

Thursday 12 October 2017 - "Take a sneak peek inside the new high-tech trains coming to Cambridge. We took a ride on the high-tech new Thameslink services, which will link Cambridge directly to central London and the south coast " report Adam Care and James Laybourn in the Cambridge News. "It feels more like a London tube train than a Cambridge commuter chugger, but if you’re heading into the capital this is how you could soon be travelling. From May 2018 a fleet of brand new hi-tech trains will be introduced on the Cambridge to King’s Cross line, as part of a £7 billion improvement scheme. ... The new trains will run with eight or 12 carriages, and are designed to carry more passengers than ever before. A fully-packed 12 coach train will be able to hold up to 1,700 passengers." GTR spokesman Roger Perkins tells the newspaper: “They have ‘two plus two’ seating, but wide aisles, and no [internal] doors at the end of the carriages. It’s like a bendy bus, you can see right through the whole way down. As they will run through London, stopping at St Pancras, Farringdon, and Blackfriars, among others, they are designed to allow easy access at peak times, with large open spaces at the doors. ... While there are fewer seats, we are running longer services. Cambridge will get far more frequent services, and longer services.” [Infrastructure work has been completed which would allow these new trains to operate as far north as Ely (but not to stop at Waterbeach). Please note that these new class 700 trains will not work Great Northern's King's Lynn-Ely-Cambridge-London King's Cross 'The Cambridge Express' route, which will continue to be operated by the 110 mph class 387/1 trains introduced onto this Fen Line service in May this year. We will be sending members the next issue of our newsletter 'The Fenman' towards the end of this month and it is intended that this will contain comparative information on the various types of past, current and future trains].

Wednesday 11 October 2017 - Susie Fowler-Watt says on this evening's BBC Look East: "MPs and business leaders have been lobbying ministers to argue for improvements to a notorious railway bottleneck. Tom Barton reports: "An upgrade badly needed, but never delivered. ... The Transport Secretary today promised the upgrade will be included in the next round of infrastructure funding. That is good news for campaigners, but there could still be a wait for as long as seven years before work begins to transform this crucial junction." Susie Fowler-Watt puts to Elizabeth Truss MP that "the work might not start until 2024 and the local economy will suffer." Ms Truss replies: "Well, the Transport Secretary acknowledged that this was a strategic project of vital importance to the area and he's said that of all the projects going across the country, this was one of his absolute top priorities. ... what I and the others [at the meeting] are going to be doing is lobbying to get that [date] brought forward as much as possible but we need to get the feasibility study done first and that feasibility study finishes in 2019." The South West Norfolk MP points out that "we have not stopped making the case for this project because it's so vitally important - it's what's going to unlock half-hourly services on the Fen Line to Downham Market, on the Norwich-Cambridge line as well, and freight traffic..." The BBC news presenter queries: "this guarantee that you've now got - is that set in stone? Is there no chance that it could be delayed at a later stage?" Elizabeth Truss counters: "Well, he has absolutely committed that it will take place by hook or by crook and we're going to hold him to it."

Wednesday 11 October 2017 - "Suffolk and Norfolk MPs get rail bottleneck action promise" reports the Bury Free Press. "The Secretary of State for Transport has committed his department to unblock a crucial rail bottleneck into Suffolk and Norfolk. MPs from the two counties met secretary of state Chris Grayling today to discuss Ely North rail junction, a key railway intersection into and out of East Anglia. The meeting secured a crucial commitment from the Department for Transport to address the blockages at this key intersection by including it in the Department’s national infrastructure projects. MPs were joined at the meeting by members of both the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP and the New Anglia LEP, as well as key local councillors and members of the freight industry. The commitment to include it in Control Period 6 (CP6) could see plans underway as early as 2019, delivering vital upgrades of the rail junction with associated work on the roads and level crossings in the Ely area. ... East Anglia’s representatives argue blockages at Ely North obstruct economic growth across the eastern region and create lengthy commuter delays." [Current proposals for the 2018 timetable for the King's Lynn-Ely-Cambridge-King's Cross service envisage trains being slowed down by some 10 minutes - see news items below, dated Friday 14 July 2017]. "Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill tells the newspaper: “Having secured the green light for funding, it is now the job of myself and colleagues to fight to ensure these vital improvements at Ely Junction are delivered.” The paper also reports: "West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock tweeted after the meeting: 'Great news from Transport Secretary: he’ll upgrade Ely North junction and unblock the bottleneck: so important for more trains in East Anglia.' Thetford MP Liz Truss tweeted: 'Delighted that Transport Sec will upgrade Ely North in CP6 (2019-2024). Vital for half hourly services to Thetford and Downham Market.' She added that she would seek a start on the work as soon as possible."

Wednesday 11 October 2017 - "Minister promises work will go ahead on vital rail junction for Suffolk route" reveals Paul Geater in the East Anglian Daily Times. "Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has promised a group of East Anglian MPs that a vital rail upgrade for the region will happen within the next seven years. Replacing a rail junction north of Ely station in Cambridgeshire is vital if more cross-country freight trains are to run from Felixstowe to the midlands and north. And it will also make it easier for Greater Anglia to increase its services between Ipswich and Peterborough – with connections to the rest of the country – to one an hour rather than one every two hours." Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill, who was at the delegation which met the Minister today, tells the EADT: “That is good news that it is firmly in the programme but we have to keep up the pressure to make sure it is at the start of the programme to get it in place as soon as possible. I was with my colleagues from Norfolk and they stressed its importance for their trains to Norwich and Kings Lynn – but it is also very important for the cross country route which will increase the number of trains from my constituency and will also help to take lorries off the A14.” The EADT comments: "The junction at Ely controls trains heading north out of the station splitting in three different directions – to Norwich in the east, Kings Lynn to the north and Peterborough to the west and is now busier than it has been for decades with more trains using all the lines."

Wednesday 11 October 2017 - " Multimillion pound upgrade to Ely Junction 'will definitely go ahead', says Norfolk MP" reports the Eastern Daily Press. "Transport secretary Chris Grayling has given his commitment into making the Ely North junction upgrade a priority for the Department for Transport. This could lead to the project jumping ahead of the queue in time for Control Period 6 - the next round of funding for major rail projects which begins in 2019." The newspaper says: "South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss led a delegation of MPs and officials from local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) to see the minister today." Speaking after the meeting, Ms Truss tells the EDP: "The transport secretary Chris Grayling agreed with us that the Ely Area Enhancement Programme is a priority and he wants to push ahead in Control Period 6 (CP6) with the upgrade. This is fantastic news, we have been campaigning for years for this and it will definitely be going ahead. One of the key aspects is to ensure the scheme is properly costed by Network Rail and the LEPs agreed to provide every assistance with this. Once the costings are finalised this will determine when in CP6 work starts." FLUA Chairman Colin Sampson says: “As things stand we will get that work done between 2019 and 2024. We need to keep the pressure from now on so that everybody realises we mean business." The EDP article, which is written by Taz Ali, also reports "The cost of the project will become known once an £8.8m feasibility study into the scheme has been completed within the next few months. The study is being carried out by Network Rail to determine the design of the scheme and how much it will cost before it can be considered for funding. The study is partly funded by Greater Cambridge/Peterborough and New Anglia LEPs, both contributing £3.3m each, with the remaining £2.2m provided by the Strategic Freight Network" and Doug Field, Chairman of New Anglia LEP, tells the newspaper: “We are delighted that the secretary of state has confirmed the case for improvements at Ely North is compelling and a priority for Government. It will bring huge improvements for passengers in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. Also services connecting the UK’s busiest container port at Felixstowe with the Midlands and the North will be greatly enhanced." Mr Ali concludes: "Once the funding has been secured work could begin in 2020, bringing more frequent services including half-hourly trains between King’s Lynn and London."

Wednesday 11 October 2017 - Following today's meeting with Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling concerning the Ely North Junction upgrade, Sir Henry Bellingham MP says that he is "delighted with the Secretary of State’s positive response." The North West Norfolk MP goes on to say: "“The reason why this project is so important is that it is absolutely key to unlocking the half hourly service to King’s Lynn as well as radically reducing the journey time from Cambridge to Norwich. All of this is vital to Norfolk’s continuing economic growth. This was one of the most successful meetings I have ever been to with a senior Minister. The delegation received an exceptionally positive welcome and Chris Grayling told us that this was undoubtedly one of the most important strategic projects across the whole country. He went on to say it would definitely be included in the Control Period Number 6, which covers the period 2019-2024. As the project is almost ready to go all efforts must be now focussed on making sure that it commences in 2019. Myself and other members of the delegation are now going to be putting pressure on Network Rail to ensure that they deliver it on time.” South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss issues a statement which says: "The Transport Secretary Chris Grayling agreed with us that Ely Area Enhancement Programme is a priority and he wants to push ahead in Control Period 6 (CP6) with the upgrade. This is fantastic news, we have been campaigning for years for this and it will definitely be going ahead. One of the key aspects is to ensure the scheme is properly costed by Network Rail and the LEPs agreed to provide every assistance with this. Once the costings are finalised this will determine when in CP6 work starts. I am delighted that the Transport Secretary fully understood all the points we raised and that he has given this commitment today to see the work done in CP6 2019-2024. This will be an incredible boost to the region and the UK as a whole, investing in key infrastructure that will really transform rail travel in Norfolk.’ The project, which is the first of its kind in the UK, will see both the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP and New Anglia LEP fund technical and feasibility work associated with the Ely area, including Ely North Junction. This study, carried out by Network Rail, will provide options for funders to increase rail capacity and provide improvements for both freight and passenger services from King’s Cross to King’s Lynn, Ipswich to Peterborough and Felixstowe to Nuneaton and beyond. ... [She also notes] King’s Lynn to London [King's Cross], half hourly at peak times, hourly at other times. Franchise commitment specified by government to deliver half hourly services throughout the day from May 2017."

Wednesday 11 October 2017 - "Give us the railway investment we need - our message to transport minister ahead of crunch Ely Junction talks" says the today's Eastern Daily Press on its front page. The regional newspaper reports that South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss will lead a group meeting Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, to discuss the benefits of upgrading Ely North Junction today. MPs Henry Bellingham, George Freeman and Lucy Frazer will be present too, as will representatives from the Greater Cambridge, Greater Peterborough LEP, New Anglia LEP and passenger and freight train operators. King's Lynn Borough Council's Chief Executive, Ray Harding, will also be there. Speaking ahead of the meeting, Ms Truss told the Eastern Daily Press: “Ely North rail junction is a key priority for me and I have long campaigned to secure the investment and upgrade of it. The meeting this week with the Transport Secretary is to demonstrate the substantial support for the upgrade and the significant benefits this will bring." The EDP throws its weight behind the campaign today with both the front page story and a full page article on page 8. North West Norfolk MP, Henry Bellingham, tells the Ely Standard: "“This is very much an important meeting in order for this project to progress. It is going to be pivotal in unlocking some of the work that needs doing on the line and modernising the infrastructure to make it fit for purpose.” Improvements to the junction are essential to secure the promised 'all-day' half-hourly King’s Lynn-King's Cross service. The Government is to make a statement on railway funding by this coming Friday. Elizabeth Truss MP has issued a full statement "MPs and business to meet Transport Secretary to press for Ely rail upgrade."

Sunday 8 October 2017 - Former Cambridgeshire County Council Michael Williamson and his wife Jane maintain a Waterbeach blog; amongst other things, they monitor proposals for Waterbeach and the proposed Waterbeach new station. Today, they issue a commentary on walking distances from places within Waterbeach to the proposed new station. They include a link to the 'New Waterbeach Station GRIP 2 Report’. [A potential new station at Waterbeach is associated with the proposed Waterbeach new town. For additional rail documentation associated with this see news item below, dated Friday 14 July 2017].

Friday 6 October 2017 - Network Rail publishes its Enhancements Delivery Plan Update for September 2017.

Wednesday 27 September 2017 - The website for the Public Inquiry into the proposed Network Rail Cambridgeshire Level Crossing Reduction Order can be found here. The Inquiry will open at 1000 on Tuesday 28 November 2017 at the Hallmark Hotel, Bar Hill, Cambridge, CB23 8EU. The Association's Representation of Support is here and its Supplementary Evidence can be found here.

Monday 25 September 2017 - The Department for Transport replies to Rupert Moss-Eccardt's request of 18 August 2017, saying: "Network Rail are currently undertaking a feasibility study to look at the changes to infrastructure that would support an increase in passenger and freight services through the Ely area. That study has been funded by the Strategic Freight Network (SFN), Greater Cambridgeshire, Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and New Anglia LEP. The work will be completed in spring 2019. As well as doubling the junction at Ely North, the study will also look at the impact of increased services on level crossings (including the Queen Adelaide crossings), the track layout at Ely station, bridges and the distance between signals. The issue in Queen Adelaide is unique in that the road is bisected by three level crossings on three separate lines. Any future scheme would have to take into account the increasing the number or trains over the crossings will increase the risk. This means that the current half barrier style crossing would not be viable in the future. This is further complicated by traffic flow through the village, which, with increased barrier down time from full barrier crossings would likely cause issues with traffic congestion. Without finding viable solution to these issues the rail traffic in the area cannot grow. This would effect a wide range of services including interregional cross country services, main freight flows and commuter traffic from [to?] Cambridge and London. Cambridgeshire County Council is currently undertaking traffic study to look at the flow of traffic through the village. This will then feed into the wider development work being undertaken on the scheme. This scheme is only funded through development at present [i.e. development work is currently funded but any capital scheme arising from this is not at present]."

Monday 25 September 2017 - "Not so good north of Cambridge" reports national rail campaigning group Railfuture in the latest Edition of RailEast, the newsletter of its East Anglia branch. The newsletter also includes items about the second Thameslink 2018 timetable consultation, East-West Rail, and Greater Anglia's proposed new trains. RailEast says: "... journey times north of Cambridge are being extended by up to eight minutes. This is apparently to make the timetable more robust for trains to negotaate the two single-line sections north of Ely. The present passing place, Downham Market, will become Littleport, where some services will wait. This slowing of Fenline services is most disappointing, especially as latitude in the current timetable for joining and splitting portions at Cambridge will no longer be generally necessary. An important Railfuture East Anglia campaign will focus on the restoration of part or all of these single-line sections to double track as they are becoming a real constraint on the local economy." [The Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, King's Lynn BID Ltd, and FLUA have joined forces to call for a long-term strategic commitment to a double track line that is capable of accommodating 12 coach trains. They also are calling for proposals to re-double the single line sections of track between Lynn and Watlington and between Downham Market and Littleport respectively. There is more information in the joint press release "Proposed 2018 Great Northern Timetable" issued by the three bodies on Wednesday 19 July 2017."

Friday 22 September 2017 - "Safety fears raised about Lynn train overcrowding" writes Winston Brown in today's Lynn News. Tydd St Mary Parish Council Chairman, John Ley, has emailed his Member of Parliament, South Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes, who is also Minister of State at the Department for Transport, saying that infrastructure on the King's Lynn to King's Cross line has "not kept up with population growth and both the train operator, Great Northern, and the government needed to do more about it." Lincolnshire County Councillor Chris Brewer says he does not have problems finding a seat: "Fares are also dramatically cheaper than going via Peterborough and I find the service first-class." FLUA Secretary Andy Tyler urges Lynn News readers to "join the campaign for more, longer and faster trains between King's Lynn and King's Cross." Great Northern tells the newspaper that they have "plans to double the length of trains between King's Lynn and Cambridge from the end of next year, subject to Network Rail completing the necessary upgrading of power supplies and lengthening of platforms at Littleport and Waterbeach." A Great Northern spokesman says: "When power and platform upgrades are completed by Network Rail, we will also be able to run two trains per hour between King's Lynn and Cambridge [and on to King's Cross].

Tuesday 19 September 2017- Chris Elliott is back writing about Ely station bridge in the Cambridge News: "Ely's low railway bridge hit by lorry for second time in 24 hours. ... The notorious low railway bridge at Ely has claimed another victim. Just a day after a van got stuck under the low bridge spanning the A142, a lorry has now hit the structure, which only has clearance of nine feet. Police and Network Rail engineers are at the scene today (September 19). A police spokeswoman said: 'We were called to Station Road, Ely at about 7.25am today with reports that a van is stuck under the bridge at Ely station. We've been in touch with Network Rail who will be attending.'"

Tuesday 19 September 2017- "'Larger offices key to keeping larger employers': Massive office block planned for CB1 development at Cambridge station. The applicant says larger spaces will keep companies like Amazon, Arm and Deloitte in the city" - Josh Thomas in the Cambridge News reports on developer Broadgate's latest proposals for the employment zone around Cambridge station.

Monday 18 September 2017 - Chris Elliott reports in the Cambridge News: "Another vehicle gets stuck under Ely's notorious railway bridge. Traffic queues building up after second crash in a fortnight. ... The bridge, under the city's main railway track, has been struck many times in recent years, despite signs warning drivers to beware. Two weeks ago, the bridge was damaged when a white van got stuck under it, before managing to reverse out."

Thursday 14 September 2017 - " £400,000 boost by East Cambs Council to get work started on extension to Littleport station car park" writes John Elworthy in the Ely Standard. "A cash boost of £400,000 from East Cambridgeshire District Council will be agreed next week to ensure an early start to extending the car park at Littleport station. The council’s resources and finance committee will be asked to rubber stamp the money to ensure “a speedy commencement. ... Earlier this summer the council was told work would begin in August on providing the extra 80 spaces that the extension will provide. Councillor Bill Hunt, chairman of the asset development committee, said the spaces are much needed and are a significant boost for people who want to use Littleport station to get to work. 'It will also boost local economy and make Littleport and the surrounding area a more attractive place to live,' he said. Littleport station car parking charges will remain the same."

Thursday 14 September 2017 -Representatives from Cambridgeshire County Council and Network Rail meet the public at an 'engagement event' at Queen Adelaide Village Hall between 1800 and 2000 today. The event is aimed at discussing with residents and businesses how they travel in the area and the impacts of the crossings on day to day life in Queen Adelaide. Responses must be sent to Cambridgeshire County Council before Friday 29 September 2017 - further details available here.

Wednesday 13 September 2017 - Tom Pilgrim writes in the Cambridge News: "Here’s what the new Waterbeach development may have - including new train station." He explains that: "The first steps have been taken in a bid to build 5,000 homes and a new railway station in Waterbeach, Cambridgeshire. An initial report has been submitted to South Cambridgeshire District Council ahead of a formal planning application. Landowners RLW Estates' masterplan for the land north of the village includes retail, leisure, primary and secondary schools and new landscaping. The 231 hectare site sits alongside Urban&Civic's separate plans to build 6,500 homes at the former Waterbeach barracks and airfield. If both developments progress the village's 5,000 resident population could more than treble in the coming decades. Part of the RLW Estates proposals also include moving the existing Waterbeach station further north."

Tuesday 12 September 2017 - In an article about delivering improvements to transport infrastructure, Cambridgeshire & Peterborough mayor James Palmer writes: "Take the example of the proposals for Cambridge South railway station. Rarely, if ever has there been such a cut and dry case for a new railway station. The proposed site is at the heart of the biomedical campus, with much of the land owned by Astra Zeneca. The businesses based on the campus, such as Astra Zeneca, are international in their reach and are at the cutting edge of the life sciences sector. Astra Zeneca alone employs over 2,000 people on the campus and that number is scheduled to increase tenfold once its new research facility opens. With the roads around the campus being already congested, the need for a new train station is urgent and in time will become acute. Astra Zeneca who own the site of the proposed station are keen to do everything they can to move the project forward. However, according to Network Rail, it’s likely that the station won’t open for another five years, that is, in 2022. The main reason for the very lengthy timescale is the incredibly complex and cumbersome Governance for Railway Investment Process (GRIP) that Network Rail must follow before the station opens. Last month I attended a meeting at the US Embassy to push for increased trade links between Silicon Valley and Cambridge and I had some difficulty in explaining the reasoning for the long timescales associated with the project."

Tuesday 12 September 2017 - "New Cambridge trains with wi-fi and USB ports unveiled - Mock-ups have been created of trains that will be running through Cambridge from 2019" writes Paul Whyatt in the Cambridge News. "New trains with wi-fi, USB ports and air conditioning will be running through Cambridge from 2019 - and the design has just been revealed. Mock-ups have been unveiled today (September 12) of carriages that will be running from London Liverpool Street to Cambridge and other East Anglian locations, as Greater Anglia plans to replace every train on its network by 2020. Some 665 carriages will make up 111 new trains – 80 five-carriage trains and 22 ten-carriage trains. The mock-ups were revealed at the Derby factory of manufacturer Bombardier. The new trains will have air conditioning, plug and USB points and “free, fast Wi-Fi” [See news item below, dated Monday 11 September 2017].

Monday 11 September 2017 - Greater Anglia posts a YouTube video showing the interior of a life-sized mock-up of the Bombardier Aventra trains which will operate Liverpool Street services from 2019. Echo Essex has an interesting video of the new train interior here and East Suffolk Lines has a YouTube video of the mock-up here.

Thursday 7 September 2017 - The Inspector’s Note of the Pre-Inquiry Meeting held today in respect to the proposed Network Rail (Cambridgeshire Level Crossing Reduction) Order is here.

Wednesday 6 September 2017 - The Rail Accident Investigation branch is looking into a near miss between a passenger train and a car at Magdalen Road level crossing [Watlington station] which occurred on Wednesday 9 August 2017. RAIB says: "We have undertaken a preliminary examination into the circumstances surrounding this incident. Having assessed the evidence which has been gathered to date, we have decided to publish a safety digest. The safety digest will shortly be made available on our website" - www.gov.uk/government/organisations/rail-accident-investigation-branch.

Sunday 3 September 2017 - In a Sunday Times article "Oxbridge blues: tech hubs bursting at the seams" Sabah Meddings writes: "The university cities desperately need more housing an better transport links ... some of the solutions - such as a new railway station next to Cambridge's Biomedical Campus - seem fairly certain to go ahead. AstraZeneca has already part-funded a feasibility study, and the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, has visited the site." AstraZeneca's vice-president for Cambridge strategy and operations Andy Williams tells the Sunday Times: "This station will play an important part in the development of Cambridge as a world-class hub for life sciences and innovation." The newspaper points out that there are already 15,000 people employed at the Biomedical Campus and says that "there were soon be 19,000 workers commuting to the campus south of Cambridge every day." [We support a new Addenbrooke's/Biomedical Campus station at Cambridge South, asking for Fen Line trains to 'stop where the jobs are'].

Thursday 31 August 2017 - East Cambridgeshire District Council grants planning permission for a "restaurant with takeaway options" at the former 'Rosie and Dolly' premises at Ely station; the reference number is 17/01081/FUL.

Tuesday 29 August 2017 - "Sustainable solutions must be found at new Cambridge railway station. 'It will make it easier for patients, staff and visitors to come for treatment and work'" writes Josh Thomas in the Cambridge News. "Now, groups setting up on the Biomedical Campus, which include AstraZeneca and Papworth Hospital, as well as Addenbrooke’s Hospital, have welcomed the new station, saying it will help make accessing the area easier for staff, visitors, and patients." Malcolm Lowe-Lauri, Executive Director of Cambridge University Health Partners on behalf of Cambridge Biomedical Campus, tells the paper: "The proposed Cambridge South railway station is very important for the future development of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. It will make it easier for patients, staff and visitors to come for treatment and work as well as relieve the traffic congestion we see build up on the road network every day. We must find sustainable transport solutions to help address the current pressures and growth of demand both now and in the future ... The railway station is key part of this."

Tuesday 29 August 2017 - "Cambridgeshire County Council and Network Rail are working together to understand more about how traffic flows through the village of Queen Adelaide and impacts local residents and businesses. With wider plans to see increased train services within the county to improve connectivity, the purpose of this [traffic] study is for us to understand the implications increased number of trains can have on traffic in this location, particularly looking at the impact on the level crossings. ... The valuable input taken from these conversations will form part of the evidence base of the traffic study which the County Council commissioned and is working with Network Rail on. This work will feed into Network Rail's wider plan for the railway in the Ely area. This is currently in the very early stages of development and any proposals will be subject to extensive consultation. At this early stage we want to gain the widest understanding of how people travel in the area to feed into the planning work. For more information, attend our engagement event on Thursday 14 September 2017 from 6pm-8pm at Queen Adelaide Village Hall. Representatives from both Cambridgeshire County Council and Network Rail will be on hand to discuss with residents and businesses how they travel in the area and impacts of the crossings on day to day life in Queen Adelaide" say the two bodies.

Tuesday 29 August 2017 - In a letter to the Lynn News, Darren Taylor writes: "... the railway is not being improved – it is going downhill. In 2012 we were promised half-hourly trains and now that is not happening, in 2016 the railway said we would have half-hourly trains ‘at peak times’ from next year, but that is now not happening. Far from getting faster journey times, although the newer trains are capable of going faster, they will in fact be going considerably slower from late next year. So, if all the improvements Mr Plummer [of the railway industry body, the Rail Delivery Group] claims add up to 'boosting the economy and creating skilled jobs', then when his members set out to deliver reduced standards it follows that they have decided to blight the local economy and, by extension, destroy skilled jobs. ... the claim which is plain wrong is that 'politicians set increases to season tickets'. No they don’t. They set out the maximum increase that is allowed. That means it is quite within the means of Mr Plummer’s members, such as the operator of the Fen Line, when they deliberately set out to reduce standards, to also reduce fares, and that is why it is so right that the [King's Lynn & West Norfolk] borough council has called for fares to be reduced from December 2018 and why it is right for unremitting pressure to be kept on our failing train infrastructure provider and operator to both do better or quit the line."

Monday 28 August 2017 - "What's happening with the newsagent and coffee shop at Cambridge North?" asks Jasmine Watkiss in the Cambridge News. Greater Anglia tells the paper that "definite dates for the openings of the two outlets have not yet been set, but a spokeswoman said Costa and Co-Op should be at the station in early autumn, and the Co-Op will have a cash machine." Greater Anglia has also confirmed that the Tribecca, the 'pedal powered coffee' service, will "still be able to pitch up outside the station once Costa has opened. Also in the Cambridge News, Olivia Bell reveals: "Cambridge station should not be renamed, say News readers - Cambridge News readers who responded to our poll think the station should keep its name." Most of those taking part in the poll thought there was no need to for change. For example, Jill Allen commented “Leave it as it is. The new stations will have names to differentiate them (such as Cambridge North and Cambridge South/Cambridge Addenbrooke's or whatever it will be called eventually. Changing the name of the main station will mean new signage, new software required for ticketing etc. No point just additional cost!”

Monday 28 August 2017 - "Is it time to rename Cambridge's railway station?" asks Josh Thomas in the Cambridge News: "Edward Leigh, a transport campaigner with Smarter Cambridge Transport, has a few suggestions. With a new station in the north, and momentum growing for another one near Addenbrooke’s, Cambridge’s original railway station may be in need of a new name. Once it was fine to tell a visiting friend 'I’ll meet you at the station'. It was unambiguous, and was an easy landmark to locate. Now, with the city’s second station fully functioning, you have to make it clear which station to meet at and, with a third station potentially set to open within years, it will be even more important to have Cambridge’s main station labelled with clarity. Edward Leigh, a transport campaigner with Smarter Cambridge Transport, had a few name suggestions." Mr Thomas' article outlines some of campaigner Edward Leigh's ideas, including Cambridge City. He writes that Mr Leigh "noted that Cambridge Central may not be entirely accurate given that the station is about a 20 minute walk from the city centre." The newspaper is running a poll to find out what people think would make a good name.

Thursday 24 August 2017 - The Rail Accident Investigation branch has launched an Investigation into a derailment of a freight train at Ely West Junction, 14 August 2017. [Though not on the Fen Line, the site where the accident took place is visible from Fen Line trains passing Ely North Junction].

Wednesday 23 August 2017 - " Light rail link will mean no need for Cambridge South station car park says mayor Palmer" writes Ben Comber in the Cambridge Independent, "Transport secretary Chris Grayling said he would be ‘very supportive’ of regional light rail plans." The newspaper says: "The proposed station, which was given support by transport secretary Chris Grayling during a visit to the city, will not have a car park. But the region’s mayor, James Palmer, has said the station’s proposed links to a light railway network – a plan that also has support from Mr Grayling – would mean a car park would not be necessary. ... At the recent opening of Cambridge North station, Mr Grayling said: 'If Cambridge is going to grow in the way that we all believe it needs to – it’s become a really important economic and innovation hub for the UK – then it’s going to need modern infrastructure, so I think the case for Cambridge South station is strong.' Following the transport secretary’s opening of the station he joined mayor Palmer to visit the proposed site of Cambridge South station. The mayor said a limited amount of parking at Cambridge South, which could open in 2022, should not be ruled out." Mayor James Palmer tells the Cambridge Independent: "During his visit to the proposed site earlier this month the secretary of state could see for himself the huge growth potential of the area. Together we are able to discuss the site and what’s needed with Andy Williams from AstraZeneca. The secretary of state was supportive of what is being proposed and I am confident that if we keep making the case then the Government can play a role in helping turn the station into a reality. ... with the rail improvements planned and the possibility of Addenbrooke’s being connected to a light rail system, I would hope that the vast majority wouldn’t feel the need to use a car.” Mr Comber also writes that at "the station launch, Mr Grayling also gave his support to a regional light railway. He said: 'It’s one of those concepts being driven by a great new mayor that I think has really interesting potential. It’s one of the innovative things that we are expecting to come from the new generation of mayors. I haven’t seen how the plans will take shape yet but will be very supportive of him as he develops that concept.'”

Tuesday 22 August 2017 - The pre-inquiry meeting for the Inquiry into the proposed Network Rail (Cambridgeshire Level Crossing Reduction) Order will now be held at 1000 on Monday 4 September 2017 at the Hilton Cambridge City Centre Hotel, Downing Street, Cambridge, CB2 3DT. This is a revised date. [See news item below dated Monday 14 August 2017].

Tuesday 22 August 2017 - Writing today in the Cambridge News, Josh Thomas says: "Sustainable solutions must be found at new Cambridge railway station. 'It will make it easier for patients, staff and visitors to come for treatment and work'." Mr Thomas continues: "Now, groups setting up on the Biomedical Campus, which include AstraZeneca and Papworth Hospital, as well as Addenbrooke’s Hospital, have welcomed the new station, saying it will help make accessing the area easier for staff, visitors, and patients. Malcolm Lowe-Lauri, Executive Director of Cambridge University Health Partners on behalf of Cambridge Biomedical Campus, said: 'The proposed Cambridge South railway station is very important for the future development of the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. It will make it easier for patients, staff and visitors to come for treatment and work as well as relieve the traffic congestion we see build up on the road network every day. ... We must find sustainable transport solutions to help address the current pressures and growth of demand both now and in the future ... The railway station is key part of this. There is a lot of work still to be done and there will no doubt be challenges as this project moves forward but the station will help deliver many benefits not just for people coming to the site but also the community.'" [We support a new station at Cambridge South, wishing Fen Line trains to 'stop where the jobs are'].

Monday 21 August 2017 - "Do we need a car park at new Addenbrooke's railway station? Intelligent, innovative cities like Cambridge need to be at the forefront of making this happen." That's the headline of Josh Thomas' article in the Cambridge News. "The [Cambridge South station} scheme’s supporters say a predictable rail link from Chesterton in the north to the new biomedical campus in the south, via the central station in Cambridge, would be an important step in linking major employment centres in the city. But does this require car parking? Some say the provision of the 450 spaces at Cambridge north was a mistake given that it is well served by busway and cycle paths. The busways are linked to park and ride sites, which should help keep cars of city streets – helping to improve air quality and stop costly traffic jams. Many are excited by the idea of making a city where cars are not necessary, with calls for more, larger park and rides on the periphery to help people coming in from surrounding towns and villages access work in Cambridge, and continue journeys on to London, King’s Lynn, and beyond."

Monday 21 August 2017 - "North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald welcomes possibility of reinstating morning train from Royston and fast evening service" reports Bianca Wild in the Royston Crow. "In a letter to Sir Oliver, Govia’s stakeholder engagement manager Katherine Cox said that there may be a possibility of starting one Thameslink service an hour in the mornings from Royston and that fast northbound trains that were no longer going to stop at Royston after 19.12 will be reinstated. Sir Oliver said: 'I know commuters will be pleased to see that there has been some movement from Govia to try to meet the concerns of Royston commuters. Of course, we await the final timetable announcement in due course. I will continue to press the case for commuters in the constituency.'” Sir Oliver's statement can be seen here.

Monday 21 August 2017 - "Line between Ely and Peterborough reopens following major recovery operation" reports Network Rail. Simon Ancona, Network Rail’s chief operating officer for Anglia, says: “Our engineers and specialist teams have worked tirelessly over the last week to recover the derailed wagons and carry out major repair work so that services can resume today as planned. I’d like to thank passengers for their patience while we completed the repairs.”

Friday 18 August 2017 - The newly-formed Royston & Villages Rail Users Group has met with Govia Thameslink [on Thursday 10 August] over the proposed 2018 Great Northern timetable reports the Royston Crow. The newspaper reports: "The group was founded by Dr Edward Carder from Royston, who launched a petition in a bid to make Govia reconsider proposals which would see off-peak fast trains scrapped, evening off-peak services after 7.12pm running fast to Cambridge, and increased journey times for commuters. ... The outcome of the meeting was that Govia has given a firm commitment to restore the evening fast service from King’s Cross to Royston at the current level – through to the last fast train at 23:42." Dr Carder tells the Royston Crow: “They have gone away to develop some proposals and will share those with us and then would like to meet with us to finalise proposals in September.” A spokesman for Govia tells the newspaper: “We had a very constructive meeting with the rail user group as well as Herts County Council and other groups, and were delighted to find a way to accommodate some of their key concerns."

The petition, "Great Northern/Govia - Keep the evening fast trains to Royston and Letchworth after 19:12" states: "Under the proposed 2018 timetable Great Northern (run by Govia Thameslink Railways) are planning a massive downgrade in the service to Royston and Letchworth. The big problems are: *There will be no fast trains to Royston and Letchworth from Kings Cross after 19:12 (the trains will instead run non-stop to Cambridge)[and on to Ely/King's Lynn]. The replacement will be a train from St Pancras that takes 49 minutes instead of 36 minutes (to Royston). For someone commuting every day that's an extra 48 hours on the train a year; *There will be no trains starting at Royston in the morning. The 07:32 and 08:34 will be replaced by trains starting at Cambridge. For commuters from the stations south of Cambridge, these are the only trains on which you can get a seat (especially with the new trains that, ridiculously, have fewer seats). The train service is a vital resource for our towns, our prosperity depends on it and we all plan our lives and buy our homes based on it. This is especially true with the need for affordable housing in commuting distance of London."

Friday 18 August 2017 - Network Rail advises that the derailed wagons near Ely North Junction have now been cleared and that the tracks are now being replaced. It is anticipated that the Ely-Peterborough line will re-open on Monday. [Please note that this accident is NOT affecting the running of King's Lynn-London or Cambridge-Norwich trains].

Friday 18 August 2017 - The Lynn News writes: "Fury as rail fare hike leaves West Norfolk facing first £7k season tickets ... Rail passengers in West Norfolk could have to pay up to £250 more just to get to work next year, after new fare rises were confirmed this week." The newspaper continues: "At present, an annual season ticket for travel from Lynn to London, costs £5,628 or £6,928 including access to the London Underground. However, a 3.6 per cent rise will see the cost of the latter ticket go above £7,000 for the first time, to £7,177. The rise is also set to add around £80 to the cost of an annual season ticket between Lynn and Cambridge and further fuel demands for urgent network improvements here. Last month, the Fen Line Users Association called for fares to be cut because of what it claimed was a broken promise to deliver more frequent services between West Norfolk and London. And North West Norfolk Labour party secretary Jo Rust said: 'As always it’s the ordinary people who suffer here. ... This increase benefits no one but the shareholders.' But Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents operating companies and Network Rail, said: 'Money from fares pays to run and improve the railway, making journeys better, boosting the economy, creating skilled jobs and supporting communities across Britain, and politicians set increases to season tickets.'" [Our call for fare cuts is made in response to the currently proposed GTR 2018 timetable changes should these materialise, no final decision has been made - see news item below, dated Friday 21 July 2017]. [The Go-Ahead Group, majority owner of GTR, itself the operator of Great Northern King's Lynn-King's Cross services, reported overall GTR franchise losses during the second half of last year - see news item below, dated Tuesday 28 February 2017].

Wednesday 16 August 2017 - "'If we have to pay more for tickets, we want better trains’- Cambridge rail users group Railfuture says operators must up their game after 3.6 per cent fare rise signalled" reports Chris Elliott in the Cambridge News. Railfutures's East Anglia branch Chairman Nick Dibben tells the newspaper: "The best response to passengers after these fare increases is for Network Rail to announce they are speeding up delivery of improvements, such as work at Ely, and have costs under control."

Wednesday 16 August 2017 - "Crane moves in to remove derailed Ely freight train" reports the BBC news. "Eleven carriages came off the tracks at Queen Adelaide near the Ely North junction, Cambridgeshire, on 14 August. A rail crane has begun lifting the stricken wagons, with some individual sections weighing as much as 106 tonnes. A spokesman for Network Rail said teams would work "day and night" to reopen the line by Monday." [Please note that this accident is NOT affecting the running of King's Lynn-London or Cambridge-Norwich trains].

Monday 14 August 2017 - "A derailed freight train has caused chaos on services across the East of England. A derailed freight train in Cambridgeshire has caused chaos on services across the East of England. The line is blocked at the Ely North junction near Queen Adelaide, preventing passage of train services to and from Peterborough, Ely, London, Cambridge, Stansted Airport and Bury St Edmunds" reports BBC News. A replacement bus service is running between Bury St Edmunds and Peterborough, via Ely and March, organised by Greater Anglia, which reports: "Network Rail engineers are on site working to recover the derailed wagons, which is likely to take a number of days as they will require to be lifted away by crane. The track is also damaged and will need to be replaced before services can run again. Further updates and timescales will be released over the next few days [on the Greater Anglia website]".

Please note that King's Lynn-Cambridge-London services (as well as Cambridge-Norwich services) are NOT affected by this derailment, which is on the Peterborough line.

Monday 14 August 2017 - the Secretary of State for Transport has appointed Ms Heidi Cruickshank BSC(Hons), MSC, MIPROW as inspector to conduct the Inquiry into the proposed Network Rail (Cambridgeshire Level Crossing Reduction) Order [see news items below dated Monday 10 April 2017 for our Representation of Support and Wednesday 10 May 2017 for our Supplementary Evidence]. A pre-inquiry meeting will be held at 1000 on Wednesday 23 August 2017 [now postponed - revised date to be announced] at the Hallmark Hotel Cambridge, Bar Hill, Cambridge CB23 8EU. The Inquiry itself will begin at 1000 on Tuesday 28 November 2017 at the same venue.

Sunday 13 August 2017 - John Elworthy writes in the Ely Standard: "‘Most bashed bridge’ - in Ely of course- escapes damage as police ride to the rescue of hapless driver and van stuck beneath it. It’s been tagged the ‘most bashed in Britain’ and the bridge outside Ely station has now claimed its latest victim. Police were called last Thursday just after 6pm to deal with a van that had driven underneath the bridge, failed to spot the tell tale warning signs about height, and got stuck. A spokesman for East Cambs police said they had become experts in removing vehicles from the bridge. 'The recovery took over two hours at a very busy time of day and as always we appreciate the patience of other road users while we deal with these types of incidents.'" [Our priority is for rail travellers, many of whom commute to and from work, and who are all to frequently the victims of rail delays caused by road users striking the bridge at Ely. The new Ely Southern bypass, under construction and visible from Fen Line trains, should provide an alternative route for vehicles to cross the railway].

Sunday 13 August 2017 - "Cambridge's third railway station could be closer than you think - The Department for Transport has confirmed they are looking forward to getting to work to deliver the new station" writes Josh Thomas in the Cambridge News. "Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, threw his weight behind the campaign for a third city railway station near Addenbrooke’s hospital after visiting the city on Friday (August 11) and hearing of the expected growth in the area. South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen said Mr Grayling was now 'convinced of the need for a railway station at Addenbrooke’s, ensuring the biomedical campus is able to reach its full potential as a world renowned centre of excellence, thereby securing continued economic growth for the region and beyond.' Now, The Department for Transport has confirmed they are looking forward to getting to work to deliver the new station."

Saturday 12 August 2017 - Rupert Moss-Eccardt writes to the Department for Transport: "It has been reported in the press that, at the opening of Cambridge North Station this week, Chris Grayling said 'Ely (North) ​is ​a ​priority.​ It’s ​one ​of ​a ​number ​of ​projects ​to ​be ​done ​and ​it’s ​really ​important ​to ​unlock ​growth ​potential ​across ​the ​region. ​There ​is ​a ​clear ​commitment ​to ​doing ​it.' So can you please tell me what 'it' is? In particular what has the SoS in mind for the level crossings at Queen Adelaide?"

Friday 11 August 2017 - The Cambridge News reports: "An Addenbrooke's train station has got the thumbs-up from the Transport Secretary: Chris Grayling is "convinced" of the need for a third train station in Cambridge. Cambridge could be in line for yet another new railway station as Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has come out in support of a station near Addenbrooke's. Mr Grayling visited Cambridge Biomedical Campus earlier this week to discuss plans for a train station, 'Cambridge South', on the site. He has now lent his support to the scheme and is 'convinced' of the need for a new station in the south of the city." ... Councillor Ian Bates, chairman of the economy and environment committee at Cambridgeshire County Council, tells the newspaper: "We have all been working very hard on this. The biomedical campus and AstraZeneca, everybody wants to have a station in the south of the city, as well as the Greater Cambridge Partnership and the district and city councils. We are very pleased.” [We support a new station at Cambridge South, wishing Fen Line trains to 'stop where the jobs are'].

Friday 11 August 2017 - "Secretary of State Gives Addenbrooke’s Station the Thumbs Up" says South Cambridgeshire MP, Heidi Allen. She continues: "Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling visited Cambridge Biomedical Campus earlier this week to discuss plans for a train station on the site. ... As the campus has been transitioning from a highly respected acute teaching hospital to a world renowned biomedical cluster, partners have been working closely to develop more sustainable transport options, including a railway station. ... The Secretary of State was really impressed by our ambitions and has asked me to work closely with him to further develop funding plans for the station. I shared our proposals with him just a few weeks ago, so was delighted when I heard he was coming to visit. The Secretary of State went away, convinced of the need for a railway station at Addenbrooke’s, ensuring the Biomedical Campus is able to reach its full potential as a world renowned centre of excellence, thereby securing continued economic growth for the region and beyond."

Friday 11 August 2017 - "Minister gives signal for vital East Anglia rail upgrade" reports Allister Webb, the News Editor of the Lynn News: "A senior cabinet minister has insisted a key bottleneck on the rail network of Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire is one of his main priorities during a visit to the region. Transport secretary Chris Grayling gave his backing to the Ely north junction upgrade as he officially opened the new Cambridge North station on Monday." Speaking about rail upgrades in the region, Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling "admitted there was more to do, including the need to 'sort out Ely junction.' Mr Grayling said: 'Ely is a priority. It’s one of a number of projects to be done and it’s really important to unlock growth potential across the region. There is a clear commitment to doing it.'” The newspaper reports: "Last month, West Norfolk Council, together with the King’s Lynn BID group and the Fen Line Users Association (FLUA), submitted a joint list of areas for action to the Department for Transport. It included the re-dualling of single track areas of line that were downgraded in the 1980s and a commitment to maintain journey times at their current level, rather than the slower journeys planned in Great Northern’s current draft timetable proposals. FLUA secretary Andy Tyler, who met Mr Grayling at the Cambridge North ceremony, said: 'He was fully aware of how important Ely is and how necessary it is. It was very encouraging.'” North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham tells the Lynn News: “Myself, Elizabeth Truss and Lucy Frazer have been working hard on him. I think he gets the point that this is needed to unlock improvement and growth.” The article contains photographs of Mr. Grayling and of FLUA's Robert Stripe (Hon. President), Andy Tyler (Secretary) and Ben Walsh (Committee Member) at the new station's official opening. Page 6 of today's paper is devoted exclusively to rail matters and the paper also reveals that Mr Grayling said: "I am persuaded that the Wisbech line should be re-opened. We can't get the infrastructure in place until Ely (north junction) is sorted out but we're looking at how we can speed up growth." North East Cambridgeshire MP Steve Barclay tells the Lynn News: "I am delighted he [the Secretary of State] has given his personal endorsement [to the proposed Wisbech line re-opening]."

Friday 11 August 2017 - "A high-level study has concluded there is a positive economic and strategic case for improving East West Rail’s Eastern Section, from Cambridge to Norwich and Ipswich, and beyond" reports the East West Rail Consortium. The report suggests that improving the Eastern Section would promote economic growth, create shorter journey times, get the best value out of the wider East-West Rail project [central section: Cambridge to Oxford], reduce overcrowding in London, reduce car dependency, add freight capacity and support regeneration. The report includes a list of journey pairs "which, with an improved Eastern Section, would provide the most benefits in terms of journey time reduction, impact on GVA Gross Value Added) and getting people out of their cars and onto trains by 2031." The list includes Ipswich-King's Lynn and Norwich-Cambridge. There is a summary of the report and presentation here.

Wednesday 9 August 2017 - Greater Anglia's video of the Official Opening of Cambridge North is available here on YouTube.

Tuesday 8 August 2017 - "King’s Lynn named among country’s worst stations for train punctuality" writes Allister Webb in the Lynn News [page 5]. "Figures published by the Sunday Times at the weekend claimed that more than 15 per cent of trains at the station were at least 10 minutes late over a two week period. ... [The Sunday Times] said 15.3 per cent of trains were at least 10 minutes late at Lynn, making it the 10th worst station in the country. And the list of worst performers also included nearby Watlington, which was 30th with 11.6 per cent of trains failing to arrive within 10 minutes of their scheduled time. ... Fen Line Users Association secretary Andy Tyler said the figures were 'very disappointing', but not surprising." The Lynn News reports "[FLUA] have also joined West Norfolk Council and the King’s Lynn BID group in urging the government to re-dual single track sections that were downgraded in the 1980s. ...'We need longer, faster and more frequent trains. If that can be achieved, the service would be a lot better.' A Great Northern spokesman said yesterday: 'Supporting the delivery of the Thameslink Programme, Great Northern and Thameslink will see £100 million of government funding invested in track renewal, improving signals and overhead lines, and enhancing fencing to prevent trespassers. This will directly improve the reliability of services on Great Northern routes and we look forward to all passengers enjoying the benefits of this investment.'" Mr Webb points out: "The figures were published on the eve of yesterday’s official opening of the new Cambridge North station by transport secretary Chris Grayling."

Tuesday 8 August 2017 - Today's Lynn News says: "Free Wi-Fi is now available on Great Northern train services in West Norfolk and farther afield. The additional facility has been brought in recently for passengers between Lynn and London King's Cross. ... free Wi-Fi is also available at Lynn Railway Station."

Monday 7 August 2017 - Rachel West reports in the Cambridge News "Why Cambridge North is so important according to Transport Secretary". Transport Secretary Chris Grayling says: "Two new reports published at the start of the year named Cambridge as the fastest growing city in the UK, and the city with the best economic prospects outside London. And it’s not hard to fathom why. More investment is going into the city today than at any time for generations. The University is expanding rapidly. Global businesses like AstraZeneca are building major new headquarters in Cambridge. And the region’s world renowned science, digital and technology sector is well on its way to becoming Britain’s Silicon Valley. But such growth can only be sustained if we also invest in better transport, so people can travel and commute to work easily and reliably. ... The new station provides regular services to Norwich, Ely [Great Northern's proposed 2018 timetable shows services also running to Downham Market and King's Lynn from next year] and London, and improves access to the Cambridge Science Park and city centre. ... The new station is funded by the Department for Transport, and is part of a wider government programme to transform Cambridge’s rail connections. ... the railway is growing fast. Over the past two decades, passenger journeys in this country have doubled. In preparation for future growth, the Government is delivering the biggest rail investment programme since the Victorian era. We are investing £40 billion in our railways and by the end of 2019 we will have more than 3,700 new carriages on the network. ... just as prospects for Cambridge are looking up, so are prospects for the transport network. And Cambridge North Station is set to become a big part of the city’s success story."

Monday 7 August 2017 - "Network Rail delivered the station [Cambridge North] as part of its Railway Upgrade Plan .... It is now a vital point of access to the business park, which was previously only accessed by road. It is anticipated that the station will encourage new businesses to the area in the future as well as aid the expansion of Science Park and St John’s Innovation Centre" says NR, reporting that "The Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP, unveiled a plaque at Cambridgeshire’s newest station today (Monday 7 August) to officially mark its opening." The Network Rail announcement is headed by a photograph showing Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, shaking hands with Jamie Burles, Managing Director, Greater Anglia [which manages the station] in the present of NR's Anglia Route Director, Meliha Duymaz, and Councillor Ian Bates, Chairman of the Economy & Environment Committee, Cambridgeshire County Council.

Monday 7 August 2017 - "Cambridge's newest train station has been officially opened by a special guest - Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said Cambridge North formed part of plans to turn the region into 'the UK's own Silicon Valley'" reports Tommy Lumby in the Cambridge News. Mr Grayling is reported as saying: “The opening of Cambridge North marks the start of our plans to transform journeys for passengers in Cambridgeshire and maximise growth for the wider region. We are committed to making journeys across this region quicker and easier, as soon as possible. The new station is already contributing to that." Meliha Duymaz, Network Rail’s route managing director for Anglia, says: "This station brings a welcome boost to the local economy as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan. It has improved the way people travel around the city with better connections to both Cambridge city centre and to London, and provides vital rail links to the science and business parks, to support jobs and create new opportunities." [We support Great Northern's proposals for all their Fen Line services to call at Cambridge North from 2018 and also welcome Greater Anglia trains stopping at the new station].

Monday 7 August 2017 - "The newest railway station in the region has been officially opened today by the Transport Secretary" says Janine Machin on BBC Look East News. "Cambridge North has cost £50m. It's near the Business and Science Parks and it has been in use since May. Passenger numbers have already risen to more than a thousand per day ...." Secretary of State Chris Grayling tells Look East: "I want to see the whole route from Oxford to Cambridge reopened ... that route is a really important part of opening up links between ... places that are going to be so important to our growth as a nation in future."

Monday 7 August 2017 - "Transport minister Chris Grayling in Cambridgeshire to officially open Cambridge North rail station" reports John Elworthy in the Ely Standard. Mr Grayling tells the newspaper: “We are committed to making journeys across this region quicker and easier, as soon as possible. The new station is already contributing to that. East West Rail is at the heart of that transformation and can be a critical part of our plans to make this region the UK’s own Silicon Valley, a world renowned centre for science and innovation.” Jamie Burles, managing director, Greater Anglia says: “We’re grateful to our partners at Network Rail, the Department for Transport, Cambridgeshire County Council and Great Northern for their work with us in developing, funding and operating the station.” The newspaper reveals that "in 2019, a new direct Greater Anglia Norwich to Stansted Airport service will be introduced, stopping at Cambridge North, when the company brings in new trains across every route on its network during 2019-20. A coffee shop and retail unit will open soon in the main station concourse." Nick Brown, chief operating officer, Govia Thameslink Railway [operators of Great Northern services], says: “With two Great Northern trains an hour from King’s Cross to the new station, it’s never been easier for companies from the UK and across the globe to do business at the renowned Cambridge Business Park. Our service will support the wider economic growth of Cambridgeshire by attracting commercial and residential development to the area.” [Govia Thameslink Railway, which serves the new Cambridge North with some of its Kings Cross-Ely/Kings Lynn 'The Cambridge Express' trains, is intending that all Great Northern Fen Line services will call at Cambridge North from 2018; the Association welcomes this development].

Monday 7 August 2017 - Greater Anglia News presents a live video of the speeches and the unveiling of the plaque by Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, at today's official opening of Cambridge North station. Mr Grayling says: "It's a great pleasure to be here for the next stage in the growth of the railway in Cambridge and in East Anglia. ... there's talk about one [new Cambridge station] in the south [Addenbrooke's/Cambridge Biomedical Campus; supported by the Association] ... we've got East West Rail coming along the way, we've got to sort out Ely Junction [Ely North Junction/Ely Area], I want to find ways to make the Wisbech connection work ... a very exciting time for the railways in East Anglia ... [Cambridge] needs a transport system that's fit for the twenty-first century ... this is going to make a real difference to this area ... ."

Monday 7 August 2017 - Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling tells Greater Anglia: "This station [Cambridge North} is obviously going to be an absolutely critical centre for this part of Cambridge and it's got the capacity for what I suspect will be a huge amount of growth for the future. Cambridge is one of our more important innovation cities ... having proper modern infrastructure and a modern railway station is going to be a really important part of that." [Govia Thameslink Railway, which serves the new Cambridge North with some of its Kings Cross-Ely/Kings Lynn 'The Cambridge Express' trains, is intending that all Great Northern Fen Line services will call at Cambridge North from 2018; the Association welcomes this development. Greater Anglia, which serves the Liverpool Street route and which manages the new station, already runs services which stop there].

Monday 7 August 2017 - ITV News reports: "New station is just the start for East's Silicon Valley, says Transport Secretary. Cambridge’s newest rail station is already helping to speed up journeys for commuters into and out of the city less than two months after opening. Cambridge North Station was officially opened by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling today (7 August). On his visit to the city today he also met with key stakeholders on the innovative East West Rail (EWR) project. ... It's hoped that the East West rail project will link Cambridge and Oxford directly by rail for the first time in 50 years. As well as helping to develop the region into the UK’s own Silicon Valley it could boost other initiatives including housing, science, technology and innovation. The aim is also to provide a new direct rail link between East Anglia, the South Midlands and the South West, helping to grow the UK’s economy. Upon completion, it will mean journeys between some of the country’s most economically vibrant towns and cities will be quicker and easier."

Monday 7 August 2017 - "Multi-million pound transport projects show commitment to UK’s new Silicon Valley. Cambridge North station officially opened by Transport Secretary Chris Grayling" says the Department for Transport. Mr Grayling was joined at the official opening of Cambridge North station by Network Rail’s Meliha Duymaz, Greater Anglia Managing Director Jamie Burles, and Nick Brown, Chief Operating Officer at GTR. FLUA's Andy Tyler (Secretary), Ben Walsh, and Robert Stripe (Vice-President) were at this morning's ceremony.

Sunday 6 August 2017 - "If it's Tuesday evening, your train service is about to hit the buffers. Rail journeys are more likely to run late after work than in the morning peak, with one day particularly badly hit, official data shows" report Andrew Gilligan, Louis Goddard and Sam Joiner in today's Sunday Times [page 8]. They say: "the figures were obtained from a huge trawl of Network Rail data .... The analysis also picks out Britain's worst stations for punctuality." Revealing that: "taking lateness of 10 minutes or more, Weymouth came top [i.e. had the worst lateness record].... Other important towns that did badly that did badly were King's Lynn, ... " The newspaper tabulates the percentage of "trains delayed by at least 10 minutes or cancelled" for stations with at least 10 arrivals a day. The Sunday Times reports that the figure for King's Lynn was 15.3% and that Watlington also makes the black list, with 11.6%.

Thursday 3 August 2017 - We are pleased to announce that issue 2/2017 of our newsletter, The Fenman, has now been published and Members who receive this electronically have been sent their copy and that today we have also posted members' printed copies to those that receive their copies this way. Issue 2/2017 focuses on GTR's 2018 timetable consultation and on infrastructure and service delivery issues. The Fenman issue 2/2017 is now available in the Members' section.

As a special service to members, we are pleased to pass on a 25% discount offer on the price of FLUA Member Rob Shorland-Ball's forthcoming book Cambridge station - its development and operation as a rail centre. The book is to be published in November.

Wednesday 2 August 2017 - Ken Gray writes a two page article titled "Problems to resolve before Ely achieves smoother running" in the latest issue of RAIL magazine.

Wednesday 2 August 2017 - Norfolk County Council launches a consultation on the draft Norfolk Strategic Framework - Shared Spatial Objectives for a Growing County. This covers strategic rail links, including Kings Lynn-Kings Cross, in discussing the "A10 Corridor" [page 29], Committed Transport Projects [page 52] and Priority Rail Projects for Promotion [page 52]). The "A10 Corridor" section states: "To realise the growth potential of the A10 Corridor there is a need to improve journey times, reliability of services and enhancement of operational capacity." The 'Committed Transport Projects' table includes the commitment to run half-hourly services between King's Lynn and King's Cross. The 'Priority Rail Projects for Promotion' table includes Ely Area Enhancements. The consultation closes on Friday 22 September 2017.

Tuesday 1 August 2017 - "Interactive rail times: Cambridge has one of the slowest rail connections to London - Interactive tool shows rail times between major cities, and Cambridge is in the slow lane" says the Cambridge News. The newspaper adds: "Cambridge rail users have one of the slowest connections to London, when compared to other major UK cities. Our [the newspaper's] exclusive new gadget (scroll down to see it) [on the Cambridge News website] reveals the slowest rail connections from Cambridge to all other major British cities. The journey from Cambridge to London averages 40.4mph, making our connection to the capital one of the slowest." [We are puzzled by the latter: Cambridge to Kings Cross is 58 miles, we think this gives an average 74 mph; Cambridge to Liverpool Street is 56 miles, giving an average 52 mph].

Monday 31 July 2017 - "The Hansford Review: Unlocking rail investment – building confidence, reducing costs" - an independent review by a panel chaired by Professor Peter Hansford - has been published today. The Review's recommendations seek, inter alia, to encourage more third-party investment into rail projects. Also published is Network Rail's response "Network Rail open for business" in which NR Chief Executive Mark Carne says: "The review makes a number of recommendations for Network Rail, which we accept wholeheartedly. We are now committing to changing our behaviours and approaches so that a range of organisations can come forward with alternative solutions and new ways of working." A trial of a new approach to third parties is to start in the Autumn on NR's Anglia Route.

Friday 28 July 2017 - Allister Webb, News Editor of the Lynn News, writes: "Remembering King’s Lynn electrification 25 years on. On July 28, 1992, hundreds gathered at Lynn’s station to see Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother mark the completion of electrification on the borough’s line. ... the belief that better transport links would stimulate greater economic growth was as strong then as it is today. In October 1987, this newspaper [Lynn News] reported the launch of a West Norfolk Council electrification campaign document where future editor Malcolm Powell, then the vice-president of Lynn’s Chamber of Trade, said the area’s growth prospects would have been 'merely a dream' just two years earlier. But he added: 'But it’s happening and we have to grasp it now. If not, we are going to go backwards.'" Mr Webb concludes: "It may have been a slow journey, but the final destination was eventually reached. The lesson for us is to keep fighting on now."

Friday 28 July 2017 - "Phase 2 of the Timetable Consultation has now closed" says GTR. We'll be working our way through all the comments and suggestions in order to fine tune the timetable for the next phase. Come back in the autumn to see and comment on the refined timetables, weekend timetables and late night services. ... We'll list the key themes from the second phase soon."

Thursday 27 July 2017 - "A Cambridge to King's Cross train service is the second most overcrowded in England and Wales" report Neil Lancefield and Anna Starnes in the Cambridge News. "There's an average of 426 passengers on the Great Northern weekday service when its official capacity is 202." The train in question - the 0755 Cambridge-King's Cross is not a Fen Line service but was recorded as the second most overcrowded train in Britain. Pointing out that once the government-funded Thameslink Programme has been completed in 2018 [many] services from Cambridge will transfer to the Thameslink route, and services will be operated as eight and 12 car trains, a DfT spokeswoman says: "We know some passengers have not received the service they deserve, and we continue to work with the industry to cut journey times and crowding, improve reliability and deliver more frequent services."

Wednesday 26 July 2017 - "Public urged to have their say on new Fen Line timetable " writes Taz Ali in a full page article in the Eastern Daily Press today [page 21]. "Passengers are being urged to have their say on changes to the King's Lynn to London rail timetable,which could see 10 minutes added to the journey. ... The changes are due to be implemented in 2018 but passengers can contribute to the consultation which closes at 5 pm on Thursday July 27 [tomorrow]." South West Norfolk MP tells the EDP: "The proposed retiming of trains at the end of the school day and the loss of an early morning train means that there is an hour gap between 0632 and 0733 [these times are arrival times at King's Cross - the well established arrival at King's Cross around 0715 (achieved by a planned connection at Cambridge) has already been degraded by the current, May 2017 timetable to a sub-standard 'connection' and since the introduction of that timetable it has been suppressed from timetable publicity]. ... I would urge commuters to contribute to the consultation before it closes this week." The EDP reports that "Govia has introduced new trains on the Lynn to London line, with plug sockets, larger tables and free wifi for passengers."

Tuesday 25 July 2017 - "MP joins critics of slower train journey plans" written by Allister Webb in the Lynn News, says: "The plans, on which a consultation exercise ends this Thursday, would see most daytime journeys from Lynn to the capital take around 10 minutes longer than they do now. ... The company [Great Northern] has said the timetables are meant to coincide with the expected introduction of longer trains late next year and will improve performance on the network." Writing elsewhere in today's Lynn News, Sarah Juggins says: "Under new plans to modernise the rail service in East Anglia, Lynn and the other stops up to Ely are to 'benefit' from a slower and less frequent service than that promised. Oh goodie. More people jammed into the train and for 10 minutes longer - what's not to like about that? Our tracks were downgraded in the 1980s to reduce costs ...." Mr Webb writes: "South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss yesterday became the latest to voice concerns over operator Great Northern’s new draft timetables for the route. The plans, on which a consultation exercise ends this Thursday, would see most daytime journeys from Lynn to the capital take around 10 minutes longer than they do now. The company has said the timetables are meant to coincide with the expected introduction of longer trains late next year and will improve performance on the network. But Ms Truss, who has held talks with Great Northern’s parent company Govia Thameslink on the issue, said: 'I want to ensure our current provision is improved and lengthening travel times is not good news for rail passengers in our region.' Ms Truss said she welcomed the extra stop at the new Cambridge North station, which is not currently served by trains to and from Lynn, that is included in the new timetable. She also described plans for new direct services linking Cambridge with Gatwick and Heathrow airports, as well as Ashford International, where passengers could then join Eurostar services to the continent instead of London St Pancras, as 'very good news' [Please note: only a tiny number of Eurostar trains call at Ashford, whereas all Eurostar services - to Brussels, Marseille, Paris and, from December, to Amsterdam, depart from St. Pancras International, which is adjacent to the King's Cross terminus used by Fen Line trains]. But she also warned that the re-timing of services was likely to have a particular impact on students making their way home from schools."

Tuesday 25 July 2017 - The importance of Fen Line trains services for pupils and students travelling to/from their places of education in Cambridge, Ely, King's Lynn and elsewhere is underscored in "Travelling to King's, Ely", the new brochure produced by the King's School, Ely.

Tuesday 25 July 2017 - "MP's call for constituents to make noise over plans to scrap fast train services to London - the South Cambridgeshire MP is urging constituents to respond to a public consultation on the 2018 timetable" is the headline of Tom Pilgrim's article in the Cambridge News." Heidi Allen has expressed her concern over potential timetable changes on the Cambridge to London rail line. Under current plans an off peak half hourly service will call at rural villages in North Hertfordshire and South Cambridgeshire all day, including Royston, Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton. The villages will also benefit from more later services at night to Cambridge. However despite the increase in frequency, journey times from the villages to London will all be longer in the future. ... Mrs Allen said: 'I’m delighted that we’re getting half hourly trains to and from Cambridge and London throughout the day and some people will really feel the benefit of trains now arriving into St Pancras or City Thameslink. However, I have concerns about service levels within Thameslink and I raised these with Great Northern during my meeting last week. They were clear that this consultation is seeking feedback and they assured me they will look again at all of the points I raised. They confirmed that submissions were a key driver in the last round of consultation conclusions. The bottom line is that the timetable shake-up will cost South Cambs commuters if we don’t take action and submit to the consultation.'" [Half-hourly services are proposed for the 'village stations' at Foxton, Shepreth and Meldreth]. Susan van de Ven, chair of the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group, tells the newspaper that there were concerns about the lack of trains from the villages travelling through to the new Cambridge North station and employment areas around it.

Monday 24 July 2017 - "GTR gives passengers free Wi-Fi on board trains" - GTR Engineering Director Gerry McFadden says: "GTR was brought in to modernise the railway. That means bringing in new trains as well as new services, infrastructure and working practices to address the massive increase in passenger numbers on this, the UK's most congested railway. One of the intended spin-offs is the introduction of on-board Wi-Fi. We've had it on our new Gatwick Express fleet for 10 months; now it's been switched on across our new Great Northern trains [including the new class 387/1trains on King's Lynn-King's Cross route]. Coupled with power points at every pair of seats and air conditioning, we're doing our best to give passengers a better journey." Passengers will see Wi-Fi symbols on train doors. They can log on simply by telling their device to search for new Wi-Fi networks. There is no download limit but after a certain limit is reached, browsing speeds will be reduced to ensure others on board have a good connection (all websites will continue to load, just slower). The available remaining allowance is shown on the train operator’s Wi-Fi website landing page.

Monday 24 July 2017 - "South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss urges public to join consultation on new Fen Line timetable" writes Taz Ali in the Eastern Daily Press. "Passengers are being urged to have their say on changes to the King’s Lynn to London rail timetable, which could see 10 minutes added to the journey. A number of changes have been made to the [proposed] timetable, including an additional stop at Cambridge North. The Fen Line route currently runs in 1h and 40min, but the proposed changes could add 10 minutes to the journey. The changes are due to be implemented in 2018 but passengers can contribute to the consultation which closes at 5pm on Thursday, July 27." Ms Truss tells the EDP: "I would urge commuters to contribute to the consultation before it closes this week.” The paper says: "Govia has introduced new trains on the Lynn to London [King's Cross] line, with plug sockets, larger tables and free wifi for passengers. Passengers can contribute to the consultation and find out more about the timetable changes on www.transformingrail.com . [The proposed Monday to Friday 2018 timetable for the Great Northern Kings Lynn-Kings Cross route can be found here].

Monday 24 July 2017 - "MP concerned over increased journey times on the Fen Line through Downham Market, Littleport, Ely and Cambridge into London" writes John Elworthy in the Ely Standard: "MP Liz Truss says she remains concerned about changes to the Kings Lynn to London service through Littleport, Ely and Cambridge that could extend journey times." The South West Norfolk MP tells the newspaper: "I spoke to Govia Thameslink, the rail operator on the Fen Line route, Kings Lynn to London [Kings Cross], and raised my concerns about the extended journey times and removal of services. “For example the proposed retiming of trains at the end of the school day will impact on students and the loss of an early morning train means that there is an hour gap [in arrivals at King's Cross] between 0632 and 0733.“ Mr Elworthy continues: "She said that although the additional stop at new station Cambridge North will add three minutes to journey time 'it is nevertheless a welcome addition on the line due to the significant employment opportunities there'. ... However at least an additional four to five minutes has been built into the timetable to allow for longer stopping times at stations and for what is being referred to as ‘resilience’ in the programme ." A spokesman for West Norfolk Council tells the Ely Standard that they had "considerable concerns regarding the general lengthening of journey times proposed in the 2018 timetable for the King’s Lynn to King’s Cross rail route. The proposals mean average peak journeys of 113 minutes out and 110 minutes back between King’s Lynn and King’s Cross, an increase of up to 8 minutes.”

Monday 24 July 2017 - "Rail passengers urged to contribute to new timetable before consultation closes this week" says South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss. "Rail passengers are being urged to contribute to the consultation on the proposed Kings Lynn to London rail timetable, due to be implemented in 2018. The consultation closes this week on Thursday 27th July 2017." Speaking about the proposed 2018 timetable, she points out there are: "A number of changes ... including an additional stop at Cambridge North, longer journey times, re-timing of services. "I spoke to Govia Thameslink, the rail operator on the Fen Line route, Kings Lynn to London [Kings Cross], and raised my concerns about the extended journey times and removal of services. ... Govia Thameslink also highlighted the fact that one of the reasons for the changes to the timetable was to accommodate the new cross rail [Thameslink] service in London. When fully operational there will be direct trains every day of the week from Cambridge to Gatwick, Heathrow, Farringdon and Ashford International. This is very good news for rail passengers but I want to ensure our current provision is improved and lengthening travel times by an average of eight minutes is not good news for rail passengers in our region." Ms Truss concludes: "I would urge commuters to contribute to the consultation before it closes this week." [The consultation is to be found at www.transforming rail.com and closes at 1700 on Thursday 27 July 2017. The times proposed to operate on the King's Lynn-King's Cross route in 2018 can be found here].

Monday 24 July 2017 - " 'We are truly sorry': Great Northern social media mistake confuses commuters about new train capacity" report Tom Pilgrim and Jasmine Watkiss in today's Cambridge News: "Commuter Andrew Booker is now calling on train operator to make data public regarding standing capacities and carriage numbers. Train operator Great Northern made "a mistake" when it claimed on social media that its new train carriages have more space for passengers. In a Twitter exchange with one customer the company said its new Class 387s trains had more 'overall capacity' when the carriages actually have less space inside. ... A spokesman for Great Northern conceded that the company's tweets had mistakenly given the impression there was increased capacity on its new trains. ... our social media team has made an honest mistake in saying that overall capacity has increased and for that we are truly sorry. It was based on their belief that fewer seats meant more standing space but there is less space inside the train saloon because of updated crashworthiness standards."

Writing on Twitter on 15 June, GN had said: "The new trains to provide more overall capacity. And customers that were surveyed stated they prefer 2by2 seating." [We have long supported '2by2', i.e. 2+2 seating for Fen Line services, contrasting it with the class 377 trains originally proposed by GN for King's Cross services. Like the class 365 'old trains', the class 387 trains now in use ('new trains') do have 2+2 seating and not the greatly disliked 3+2 arrangement].

The Cambridge News continues: "Mr Booker is now challenging the train company to make their data about the number of carriages and official standing capacities available to the public. He said: 'Unsurprisingly, I take issue with a lot of Great Northern's responses, some of which I feel are worded to confuse people by changing the metrics half way through the article, and some of which are completely off-topic for the discussion on capacity. The only way this debate will get resolved is for Great Northern to publish two key pieces of information, and I am calling on them to do so.' The two pieces of information Andrew wants the company to reveal are: the number of carriages making up all Great Northern services between King's Lynn, Cambridge and King's Cross, both peak and off-peak, both before and after the introduction of new trains; and the official standing capacities of the old and new trains." GN told the paper: "Modern trains do have less space inside because of updated crashworthiness standards but they feature other improvements such as air conditioning, power points at every pair of seats and great passenger information systems." [Andrew Booker's blog contains his points raised with Great Northern].

Sunday 23 July 2017 - It has been drawn to our attention that Network Rail's latest Anglia Route Scorecard (dated 1 April 2017) is NOT measuring the performance of Govia Thameslink Railway trains against set targets. Scorecards were introduced in response to Recommendation 1 of the Shaw Report 'The future shape and financing of Network Rail': "Place the needs of passengers and freight shippers at the heart of rail infrastructure management. Train operators should drive this customer focus into Network Rail through scorecards and agreed action plans, recognising they are sharing use of the network with others and operating within a national (and international) system.” Scorecards include various measures (CaSL – Cancelled and Significantly Late, On time, Right Time, PPM - Public Performance Measure). NR's Anglia Route Scorecard records Public Performance Measure (PPM), Cancelled & Significantly Late (CaSL) and Right Time Arrival for train operators c2c, Greater Anglia, London Overground, and TfL Rail, but not for any of the other passenger train companies operating over the Anglia Route, including for Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR). [GTR's Great Northern trains run over NR's Anglia Route from King's Lynn to the boundary of the Anglia Route with the London North Eastern & East Midlands Route between Cambridge and Royston].

Sunday 23 July 2017 - Reactions from more areas affected by GTR's proposed increased journey times in 2018 are being reported in the media, for example: 'Longer train journeys, but more frequent service from St Albans and Harpenden into London' - reported today by the Herts Advertiser. In this case, a more frequent service is being offered to compensate for the proposed longer journey times.

Saturday 22 July 2017 - "First class could be cut on busy trains, says Grayling" - the BBC reports that Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling has said that "Train firms could be forced to reduce first class seats on busy commuter lines to ease overcrowding. ... He said people will see 'less first class in the future' with busy suburban trains having 'one class' instead. Mr Grayling suggested operators may be forced to scrap first class areas when franchises are awarded in the future. ... However, some are not due for renewal for several years, with the Northern and East Anglia franchises currently not due for renewal until 2025."

The abolition of First Class on the peak only King's Lynn/Ely-Liverpool Street services may already be under way, however. Speaking at the AGM of the national rail campaigning organisation Railfuture held at Peterborough on Saturday 20 May 2017, Jamie Burles, Managing Director of Greater Anglia, which operates these services, said that from 2019/20 King's Lynn/Ely-Liverpool Street services will be Bombardier 'Adventra' units - all standard class, no First Class, with 3+2 seating - "the only way you could fulfill the seat capacity requirements of the Government, unless there was a massive infrastructure upgrade at the same time." Mr Burles explained that the 5-car version will have 544 seats and the 10-car version 1,146 seats [each carriage is 23 metres in length, a 5-car set being broadly equivalent in length to 6 cars of the current trains and a 10-car set being almost equivalent to a current 12-car train. These seat capacities are also shown in the East Anglia Franchise Agreement - on page 178 of 750, types OS10 and OS5 refer]."

Friday 21 July 2017 - "Fare cuts sought as train plan anger grows" headlines today's Lynn News [page 5]. "... the Fen Line Users Association (FLUA) says passengers are at risk of losing out as previous service commitments are not being honoured in the current plans. Its chairman, Colin Sampson, said: 'More and more people are travelling to Cambridge and London. They expect decent trains and a decent train service. Cutting back on the frequencies promised last autumn – and slowing things down on top of that – is unacceptable. We think fares should be reduced to compensate.'” The newspaper continues: "As first reported in the Lynn News last Friday, the current plans would see most daytime journeys last for around 10 minutes longer than they do now. ... Now, FLUA says that, despite committing to two peak-time trains an hour in initial consultations last year, the new plans have seen one morning peak service to London and two afternoon peak services back to Lynn cut [from the plans for 2018]. A Great Northern spokesman said the services highlighted were 'duplicate' trains which will not be removed from the timetable until Network Rail has completed the work necessary to enable eight-coach trains to run between Lynn and Cambridge, instead of the current four. The project is expected to be finished late next year. [The relevant peak services are those ADDITIONAL to the current timetable, promised by Govia Thameslink Railway in its Phase 1 Consultation document, published on 15 September 2016 (page 69 of 71). The 'schools' train, the 1619 Cambridge-Downham Market, does act as a duplicate to the heavily overcrowded 1544 King's Cross-King's Lynn, which leaves Cambridge at 1635]."

Friday 21 July 2017 - In a separate article, "Government urged to restore rail link 'stuck in the 1980s'", the Lynn News also highlights that the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, King's Lynn BID Ltd, and FLUA have joined forces to call for "a long-term strategic commitment to a double track line that is capable of accommodating 12 coach trains. They also want proposals to re-double the single line sections of track between Lynn and Watlington and Downham and Littleport respectively. The tracks were downgraded in the mid-1980s to reduce costs. But campaigners say they are now the main cause of the proposal to make journey times even longer under the current draft timetable plans." Lynn BID Chairman Darren Taylor tells the paper: "I’m concerned the Fen Line, and King’s Lynn specifically, is yet again being overlooked in favour of other towns and cities in the East. We need to make our dissatisfaction clear to the government.” Borough Council leader Brain Long says: "We expect to see the promised work on Ely North Junction taking place and we also want the single-line sections between there and King’s Lynn returned to a two-track line. With the huge growth in use of the Fen Line, this money-saving measure has just left us with bottlenecks, resulting in a sub-standard level of service. It’s time that our railway line was dragged out of the 80s and brought up to date and in line with other modern railway lines."

Friday 21 July 2017 - "MP and council voice rail delay concerns" reports Yourlocalpaper today [page 3]. Weight has been added to concerns expressed at a new train timetable proposed for the King's Lynn to King's Cross route. South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss and West Norfolk Council have spoken out about operator Great Northern's proposed timetable which would see journey times to and from the capital increase by eight to 12 minutes in 2018." Ms Truss tells the paper: "I have long been campaigning to have our rail routes upgraded with increased services and this to me is a backwards step." The Yourlocalpaper points out that "the timetable consultation deadline ends next week. To view and comment on Great Northern's proposals go online to www.transformingrail.com by 5pm on Thursday."

Friday 21 July 2017 - "Longer journey times between King's Lynn and London" reports the Eastern Daily Press today [page 55]. Elizabeth Truss MP tells the paper: "Business and tourism, regular rail commuters, all want shorter journeys and I will be speaking to Govia Thameslink ... raising my concerns about this proposal." The article concludes: "Govia has introduced new trains on the Lynn to London line, which it says 'provide a very fast and very reliable service'. The ride is quieter and smoother, with plug sockets, larger tables and free wifi for passengers." [The new, air-conditioned class 387 trains have fewer seats than the trains they replaced; but they are Norfolk's fastest trains, being capable of 110 mph south of Hitchin, i.e. on the East Coast Main Line part of the King's Lynn-King's Cross journey].

Thursday 20 July 2017 - "The Council has considerable concerns regarding the general lengthening of journey times proposed in the 2018 timetable for the King's Lynn to King's Cross rail route" says the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk in it's 'Borough Council Response to the Proposed 2018 Great Northern Timetable Consultation', submitted to Govia Thameslink Railway today. "Despite the very welcome recent introduction of faster trains (capable of 110 mph south of Hitchin) on our line the proposals are for King’s Lynn - King’s Cross Fen Line services to become slower. The proposals mean average peak journeys of 113 minutes out and 110 minutes back between King’s Lynn and King’s Cross, an increase of up to 8 minutes, although most users will experience a greater increase. ... The concerns and request for changes and Government action expressed ... are shared with FLUA and the King’s Lynn Business Improvement District (BID)."

Thursday 20 July 2017 - Top news story at radio station KL.FM 96.7 today: "If plans go ahead, the trip to London from King's Lynn could end up taking even longer. The proposed rail route to King's Cross will take 10 to 12 minutes longer than it does now. Councillor Brian Long, the leader of the Borough Council of King's Lynn, tells us what he wants to see happen: 'The commitment was to provide a half-hourly service and we've been involved with helping the sort of technical aspect of getting that to be able to happen. Instead of increasing the time that journeys take, they need to be looking to cutting the time and increase the frequency of those trains. This is a backwards step and we cannot support it in any way.'" KL.FM 96.7 sets out the background to this news item here on the radio station's website.

Thursday 20 July 2017 - Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, announces the Government's High Level Outputs Statement 2017 (HLOS) for CP6 (2019-2024)to Parliament. Mr Grayling tells Parliament: "In light of the findings of the Bowe Review, which emphasised the need to enable better planning, cost control and alignment with the needs of users of the railway, government will take forward the funding of these enhancements separately. The government is developing a new process for delivering enhancements and intends to publish more information on this in the autumn." The HLOS also provides an initial Statement of Funds Available (SoFA), "which will be subject to finalisation by 13 October 2017, following ... further work." HLOS Appendix A gives AM Peak demand forecasts for the period 2018/19 to 2023/24 - services into Liverpool Street are expected to grow at an annual compound growth rate of 4%; the corresponding figure for King's Cross services is 5%.

Thursday 20 July 2017 - The Government issues East Midlands Rail Franchise Public Consultation today. East Midlands Trains currently operate through Ely on their Liverpool-Peterborough-Norwich route. The consultation document [page 32] states: "We want to improve the service on the Liverpool – Norwich route to meet the needs of the different markets which it currently serves. This could include providing faster journeys for those travelling long distances and dedicated services for local passengers. ... At the eastern end of the route, options might exist to provide direct services between Nottingham and a wider range of stations in East Anglia, such as Cambridge and Stansted Airport. Some options could also result in changes to the destinations served by the existing Birmingham to Stansted Airport service currently operated by the Cross Country franchise." The Government is asking if there is support for "changing the destinations served by the existing Birmingham – Stansted Airport service, such as serving Norwich instead of Stansted Airport" (question 16). The document also states: "A transfer of the Birmingham to Leicester/Stansted Airport services from the Cross Country franchise to the East Midlands franchise could: allow bidders flexibility to offer new services, e.g. Norwich – Birmingham or from East Midlands stations to Cambridge/Stansted Airport (question 17)."

Thursday 20 July 2017 - Also issued today is the DfT's updated Rail Franchise Schedule.

Thursday 20 July 2017 - Network Rail publishes its Statement of Case and other Inquiry documents for the proposed Cambridgeshire Level Crossing Reduction Order. (See news items below, dated Monday 10 April 2017 and Wednesday 10 May 2017).

Wednesday 19 July 2017 - "Great Northern urges train commuters to be patient over demand for more peak time seats" reports Jasmine Watkiss in the Cambridge News. "The company has responded to a commuter who claims their new trains have much less seating and standing space than the old models [see news item below, dated Tuesday 18 July 2017]. A Great Northern spokesman questioned the accuracy of [the commuter making the original claims] Mr Booker's analysis, saying that during the three-hour morning peak, on the fast services from Cambridge to London, the actual number of standard class seats lost is 396. The spokesman also said there were 239 standard seats on an older Class 365 train, meaning there are 36 fewer seats per carriage. He added that in the off-peak time there are 262 more seats in a standard hour, because Great Northern is now running more eight-carriage trains instead of four-carriage trains. That adds up to more than 1,800 extra seats a day."

We continue to press for the earliest implementation of the King's Lynn-Cambridge 8-car scheme (page 33 of 189), which, as well as doubling the number of seats per train (446 in an 8-car class 387/1 train) will permit currently overcrowded King's Lynn-King's Cross trains to stop at the new Cambridge North station.

The Eversholt class 365 datasheet shows 263 seats in a 100 mph 4-car class 365 unit ('old' train) - 239 standard class plus 24 First Class. This varies slightly in practice. The Porterbrook class 387 brochure shows a total of 219 seats in a 110 mph 4-car class 387/1 unit ('new' train). The trains themselves are labelled on the exterior as having 223 seats; this includes 22 First Class. On Mr. Booker's website he says he has counted the seats and that there are "201 standard class seats (plus 22 first class) on the new trains", thus giving a total of 223 seats per 4-car class 387/1 "new" train.

The 125/140 mph type 3 Super Express Trains proposed earlier for the King's Lynn-King's Cross route as 'East Coast Main Line Phase 2' under the Government's Intercity Express Programme (IEP) were to have some 370 seats per half-length, electric 5-car unit [Section 2 on page 4 of 23 and paragraph 2.2 on page 6 of 23 - 'East Coast Main Line (Phase 2)']. Currently under construction by Hitachi Rail Europe, from 2018 class 800/01 'Azuma' Super Express Trains will operate on long distance East Coast Main Line routes from King's Cross. Each carriage is some 26m in length, longer than the current 20 m carriages on the Fen Line, so that a 5-car Super Express Train is broadly equivalent in length to 6 cars of a class 387/1 or 365 unit. This would approximate to some 245 seats per current 4-car train length.

The Agreement between the Secretary of State for Transport and Agility Trains East Limited (the latter being a joint venture set up by Hitachi and John Laing Investments Limited), the East Coast IEP Network Master Availability and Reliability Agreement Amended and Restated on 15 April 2014, includes "[Kings Cross]-Hitchin to Kings Lynn via Cambridge - electrified" as an Intercity Express Programme (IEP) "Core Route ... Secondary" [page 196 of 696]. Also listed are "Hitchin to Peterborough via Ely (electrified to Ely) ... Diversionary Route ... Secondary" [page 195 of 696] and Ely North Junction to Ely West Junction [Ely West Curve] Diversionary Route ... Secondary" [page 200 of 696].

The Intercity Express Programme [IEP] Appendix C Added Value Monetary Values, published by the Government on 6 May 2008, also addressed the monetary value of journey time savings for the King's Lynn-King's Cross route. Paragraph 3.2 'East Coast Main Line (Phase 2)' on page 9 of 23 states: "£ million per 1 minute [journey time] saving - London Kings Cross-Cambridge 36.6 [£ million], London Kings Cross-Kings Lynn 2.8 [£ million], London Kings Cross-Ely 2.2 [£ million]." These figures need to be increased by some 25% to give indicative current values [CPI over period: +22%; RPI over period: +27%. RPI is the measure used by government in calculating regulated fare price increases].

Wednesday 19 July 2017 - "Longer journey times between King’s Lynn, Downham Market, Ely and London" writes Chris Bishop in the Eastern Daily Press. "South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss said she was 'extremely concerned' at proposals which would add 10 minutes to the 1hr 40min journey" and tells the newspaper: "I have long been campaigning to have our rail routes upgraded with increased services and this to me is a backwards step.” The article continues: "If the new timetable is adopted, trains will spend around a minute longer at each station on their way to the capital." Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs services between Lynn and King’s Cross tells the EDP: “Our timetable proposals reflect the need for a minor increase in dwell times at stations and to improve performance on the single line tracks between King’s Lynn and Cambridge. Doubling the length of trains between King’s Lynn and Cambridge from next year will allow us to meet the increasing capacity demands in the East Anglia region.” But Ms Truss says: “Business and tourism, regular rail commuters, all want shorter journeys and I will be speaking to Govia Thameslink later this week raising my concerns about this proposal. I have been in contact with the Fenline Users Association (FLUA) and will be seeking further input from local councils and business associations. We all recognise that timetables from time to time need to be adjusted, for example with the addition of the new railway station at Cambridge North station, and I have been pressing for the upgrade of the Ely North rail junction which once upgraded will allow for more trains and alleviate congestion. However extending travel times is not a move in the right direction and one that I am not supportive of.”

Wednesday 19 July 2017 - "Businesses and politicians in West Norfolk are accusing the rail company which runs King's Lynn to King's Cross trains of planning a service which is worse than the current one. They say the new timetables being put forward by Govia Thameslink Railway are slower and promises of more trains have been broken" - Sophie Price on BBC Radio Norfolk News today.

Wednesday 19 July 2017 - "Our signalling assets on the southern end of the East Coast Main Line (ECML) – Kings Cross to Peterborough – are due for renewal. Working with the Digital Railway team we have identified opportunities to make the necessary investment more effective through modernisation. An Outline Business Case analysis evaluated a potential deployment of the European Train Control System (ETCS) and Traffic Management between London King’s Cross and Peterborough. It concluded that it would provide good value for money and based on this analysis we believe the best option at this stage would be to install ETCS without signals" writes Rob McIntosh, Route Managing Director, London North East & East Midlands Route, Network Rail. [King's Lynn-King's Cross trains run over the LNE&EM Route between Royston and King's Cross].

Tuesday 18 July 2017 - The Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk, King’s Lynn Business Improvement District Ltd and the Association today express their considerable dissatisfaction with the proposed 2018 timetable for the King’s Lynn to King’s Cross rail route.

Govia Thameslink Railway (Great Northern) acts for Government as a management contractor. The three bodies are therefore jointly calling on the Government to:

• Explore ways of maintaining and improving existing journey times between King’s Lynn and King’s Cross (allowing for the additional, welcome, stops at the employment hub around the new Cambridge North station).

• Honour the clear commitment in the Phase 1 consultation for trains “every 30 minutes” between King’s Lynn and King’s Cross during peak times (arriving 0700-0959 at King’s Cross and departing there 1600-1859). This is something that has now been cut back in the current Phase 2 consultation.

• Introduce trains “every 30 minutes” between King’s Lynn and Cambridge/Cambridge North during peak times (i.e. arriving 0700-0959 at Cambridge and departing there 1600-1859).

The second track between King’s Lynn and Watlington and between Downham Market and Littleport was removed as an economy measure in 1984/5. The anachronistic single line bottlenecks impose severe limits on the scheduling of trains, leading to the longer overall journey times now being proposed.

The three bodies are therefore further calling on Government to:

• Adopt a minimum two-track railway between King’s Lynn and King’s Cross, equipped to accommodate 12-car trains, as a clear long-term strategic aim. Ensure that short-term plans are fully assessed to ensure they do not conflict with this ultimate goal.

• Instruct the West Anglia Task Force to develop proposals for full re-doubling of the single line sections to remove the root cause of delays and timetabling constraints north of Ely.

"The Government finalises its 2019-2024 railways budget later this week. It is vital our requests are taken into account as the area is being left at a disadvantage because of the lack of progress. We expect to see the promised work on Ely North Junction taking place and we also want the single-line sections between there and King’s Lynn returned to a two-track line" says Councillor Brian Long, Leader of the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk.

Darren Taylor, Chairman of King’s Lynn BID Ltd, adds: "King’s Lynn businesses are getting increasingly fed-up with false promises and a lack of action from Great Northern. I welcome the bigger trains, but we need them twice an hour, all day. I’m concerned that the Fen Line, and King’s Lynn specifically, is yet again being overlooked in favour of investment that will benefit other towns and cities in the East. We need to make our dissatisfaction clear to Government.”

An alternative timetable, based on existing journey times and prepared by FLUA member Ben Colson MBE, FCILT shows the sort of timetable we would like to see. It can be found here.

"More and more people are travelling to Cambridge and London – they expect decent trains and a decent train service. Cutting back on the frequencies promised last autumn – and slowing things down on top of that – is unacceptable. FLUA thinks fares should be reduced to compensate” concludes FLUA Chairman, Colin Sampson.

Tuesday 18 July 2017 - "Cynics among us might say it’s a good job longer trains are planned for West Norfolk’s rail line given the current draft timetables would have us on them for longer than we are now" writes Allister Webb in the Lynn News 'Purfleet' column today. The hard-hitting page 12 article, "Why time is running out for jam tomorrow", pulls no punches: "... it seems to me that the rail industry, especially in this region, has a perception problem; the perception of jam tomorrow. Essentially, we, the travelling public, are told that things may not be that good now, but they will be better at some point in the future. Except that point never seems to come. For as long as I’ve worked in Lynn, we’ve been talking about upgrading the Ely north junction. That was supposed to be happening around now but is still several years away, at best. Then there’s the twice-hourly trains, which were supposed to be running this year, but won’t be any time soon, largely because of the Ely issue." Mr Webb continues: "And then we come to the here and now with the promise of longer trains from late next year but with the prospect of longer journeys as a sting in the tail. ... even if we do get longer trains when we’re told we should, the prospect of journeys being slower, rather than faster, is only likely to feed the perception of things not being as good as they should be. I doubt Great Northern’s explanation that the plans will help to 'improve performance' will have gone down well either. Would a car manufacturer knowingly release a new, inferior model of a successful brand? I doubt it and I don’t see why rail passengers should have to accept it either." He concludes: "If there are implications to all this, then the most immediate one should be to increase the pressure on Great Northern and Network Rail to make these desperately needed longer trains a reality."

Tuesday 18 July 2017 - "Great Northern aren't making up for lack of seats on new trains, says number-crunching commuter " reports Jasmine Watkiss in today's Cambridge News: "A number-crunching commuter is convinced the new Great Northern trains between Ely and London have fewer seats and less standing space. Software engineer Andrew Booker, from Ely, has analysed the timetables, total number of seats, and measurements of Great Northern’s new fleet of trains linking the city to the capital, and claims the company has significantly reduced the amount of space available to customers." Mr Booker says: "At times when the trains are busy, they are now absolutely rammed with people standing, whereas on the old trains it appeared there were fewer people without a seat." The Cambridge News article continues: "Noticing the changes, Andrew decided to find out exactly how the new trains were different to the old. He counted the number of seats on both an old model and new model train, and realised the 'simple reduction of around 40 seats per carriage - the exact number varies depending on different sources - is actually equivalent to completely removing one four-carriage train between Cambridge and London per hour during off-peak ... I spent a while looking for any information about the standing capacity on the new trains, but other than Great Northern's insistence that there was more capacity, I couldn't find anything definite. That's when I decided to measure the trains'. ... From measuring the train, Andrew was surprised to discover the floor area had reduced. He also researched the standard limit for standing density on trains, and discovered the guidelines for measuring standing capacity have changed. The old capacity allowed 2.25 people to stand per square metre, giving each person 0.45m2 of floor space – the new regulations put it up to four people per square metre, or 0.25m2 per person." Mr Booker has published his findings as Reduction in seats on Great Northern trains to/from Cambridge from May 2017.

Tuesday 18 July 2017 - "Union to hold strike ballot in train guard dispute" reports the Lynn News today [page 17]. "Drivers and guards on some West Norfolk train services are to be balloted for industrial action in a dispute over working practices. RMT union bosses announced yesterday that they would invite members who work on Greater Anglia services to vote on whether to take strike action or action short of a strike. The dispute relates to proposals to introduce systems where train drivers would open train doors, rather than guards" reveals the newspaper, going on to point out: "If the dispute is not resolved, any disruption to services in West Norfolk would only affect a small number of services that Greater Anglia run between Lynn and London Liverpool Street. Most of the borough’s services are run by Great Northern [to King's Cross]."

Friday 14 July 2017 - Front page story for today's Lynn News is "The rush hour is getting slower -claims new timetable will cost local economy millions of pounds a year." Allister Webb reports: "London will be further away from Lynn than it is now, if new draft rail timetables come into force, it has emerged. That’s because the proposals ... would make many journeys even longer than they already are. Political and business leaders have hit out at the schedules, claiming they would make services even worse for passengers and cost the local economy tens of millions of pounds a year." The Lynn News adds: "But the area’s main train operator [Great Northern] claims the measures would actually improve performance ... under the current proposals, journeys would take around 10 minutes longer, even though longer trains that would not need to be divided at Cambridge as the current service does, are meant to be introduced late next year." ... A Great Northern spokesman tells the paper: “Doubling the length of trains between King’s Lynn and Cambridge from next year will allow us to meet the increasing capacity demands in the East Anglia region. Our timetable proposals reflect the need for a minor increase in dwell times at stations and to improve performance on the single line tracks between King’s Lynn and Cambridge." [The sections between King's Lynn and Watlington and between Downham Market and Littleport, previously double track, were singled as part of economy cuts in 1984/5 - the land and structures occupied by the former second track are still within the railway's boundaries]. Allister Webb continues: "She also highlighted the ongoing work to secure improvements to the Ely north junction, which secured almost £9 million of feasibility study funding from the region’s local enterprise partnerships and rail industry bodies earlier this year. But North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham said longer journeys would not be acceptable, particularly given the improved trains that were introduced to the line earlier this year, and which are meant to be capable of making up time following delays. ... If our journey times do get longer, we’d be going backwards, rather than forwards. I will not stand by and let that happen." (See news item immediately below, dated today).

Friday 14 July 2017 - "Members of King’s Lynn BID – the town centre’s business improvement company – have this week expressed their concerns at a new train timetable being proposed by operator Great Northern" reports Yourlocalpaper. Darren Taylor, BID Chairman tells the paper: "the good news is that trains will be made up of eight carriages all the way from Lynn to London [King's Cross] which should relieve overcrowding" but BID is concerned trains will be slowed down by several minutes by holding them in Cambridge towards London and in Littleport towards Lynn. Mr Taylor says: “I welcome the bigger trains but, we need them twice an hour, all day." The newspaper reveals that "BID has contacted North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham, county and borough councillors, local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) and the Fen Line Users’ Association to put pressure on the company not to go ahead with the change, which BID claims could cost the West Norfolk economy up to £35m a year in lost business." A spokesman for Great Northern says: “The wider infrastructure challenges in the region are being addressed through the Ely area task force, led by Elizabeth Truss MP and is jointly made up of Great Northern, Network Rail, FLUA, regional MPs, LEPs and local authority representatives. £8.8 million of funding was confirmed in March for a feasibility study of proposed major infrastructure upgrade works in the region. Our timetable proposals reflect the need for a minor increase in dwell times at stations and to improve performance on the single line tracks between King’s Lynn and Cambridge [the second track was removed during economy cuts made in 1984/5]. Passengers can find out what the changes mean for their journey at transformingrail.com or request paper copies by post. The consultation into the weekday timetables runs until 5pm July 27." [We urge Members to take part in this extremely important consultation - longer journey times are proposed for Fen Line trains (see news items below, dated Monday 3 July 2017 and Monday 26 June 2017). Members are also asked to note that the next issue of The Fenman will now be delayed so that we can devote our attentions to this significant and contentious subject. We will advise a revised publication date in due course].

Friday 14 July 2017 - As part of the consideration of the outline planning application by The Secretary of State for Defence and Urban&Civic Plc for up to 6,500 dwellings and associated 'new town' facilities at Waterbeach, ref.S/0559/17/OL, Network Rail has submitted a number of documents, covering level crossing and station matters at Waterbeach. The main NR letter is here and the list of documents submitted is to be found here. [See news item below, dated Monday 27 February 2017].

Thursday 13 July 2017 - "MPs Sir Oliver Heald and Heidi Allen urge constituents to have their say in Great Northern timetable consultation" reports the Royston Crow. "Sir Oliver Heald and Heidi Allen are calling for Great Northern operator Govia Thameslink to rethink plans which will see off-peak fast trains scrapped and increased journey times for commuters from 2018. In the proposals, the fast off-peak services to London will be scrapped adding up to 15 minutes to journeys and no morning peak trains will start at Royston. In the evening off-peak fast services after 7.12pm will no longer stop in the town, instead running fast to Cambridge. Sir Oliver told the Crow: 'I’ve been in contact with constituents about their concerns and I am taking the case on. I’m meeting the rail minister on Monday, and I have met with officials from GTR and made representations to them about a range of issues to do with timetables, which include the changes to the fast service.' ... There are positives, in that Ashwell & Morden station in Odsey will now boast five non-stop trains to London King’s Cross at peak times in the mornings as well as six non-stop trains back in the evening [these will be Ely/King's Lynn trains]. Shepreth, Meldreth and Foxton will now have half-hourly trains throughout the day to both London and Cambridge." [We urge Members to take part in this extremely important consultation - longer journey times are also proposed for Fen Line trains (see news items below, dated Monday 3 July 2017 and Monday 26 June 2017)].

Wednesday 12 July 2017 - "What do you think about the plans for development around Cambridge North station? " asks Ben Comber in the Cambridge Independent. "Cambridge's CB4 development gets a roasting from readers" says Chris Elliott in the Cambridge News. Mr Comber reports: "CB1 developer Brookgate has submitted detailed planning applications for the first stage of a joint development with Network Rail around Cambridge North station, with plans for a hotel and office scheme. The new development would be named Cambridge North. It encompasses over 30 acres and would include offices, up to 1000 new homes, a hotel, retail outlets and community uses - with the new rail station and transport interchange providing links to routes for cyclists, pedestrians and bus users". Mr Elliott writes: "Readers of the News have panned plans for the CB4 hotel and business scheme, near the new Cambridge North rail station. They have criticised the architecture of the project, being developed by the same company that revamped the main station area, and called it 'depressing', 'dull' and 'ugly'. The development features a business park, 600,000 sq ft of residential units and student accommodation, as well as a four-star hotel." Both newspapers print artists' impressions of the new city quarter for Cambridge, which is located around the new Cambridge North station. [We are calling for all Kings Lynn-Ely-Kings Cross trains to call at Cambridge North, which is would allow rail access to a significant number of jobs and businesses from Fen Line stations. There are two planning applications, S/2372/17/FL and S/2403/17/FL ].

Wednesday 12 July 2017 - Covering the imminent start of work on the enlargement to Littleport station car park, the Cambridge News reports: "Littleport Station users to welcome car park extension - but not until the new year." In her article, CN reporter Anna Savva says: "The new spaces will cater for commuters living in Littleport. ... Once complete will represent a 200 per cent increase on current available parking space. ... This is the second car park construction project that has been announced by East Cambridgeshire District Council this month to cater for an increase in commuter footfall as the area prepares for an increase of housing stock. Around 11,400 new homes are expected to be built under the authority's Local Plan. The final consultation [on the Local Plan] is expected to take place this summer and a finalised version will be published in the spring."

Monday 10 July 2017 - "'The issue isn't the trains, it's the number of carriages' Great Northern train debate continues" reports Anna Savva in the Cambridge News. "The new [class 387] carriages have 17 percent less seating and more standing room, which the rail operator says is better for disabled access, but commuters are not happy with having to stand on their morning and evening commutes into the capital. As the newspaper says, there has been a "mixed reaction" to the new trains. Along with several other issues, we are greatly concerned about the lesser seating capacity of the new trains and are calling for the very earliest implementation of Network Rail's Kings Lynn– Cambridge 8-car scheme [the link leads to the June 2017 issue of NR's Enhancement Delivery Plan - page 33 of 189 refers].

Sunday 9 July 2017 - In an article by John Collingridge today, the Sunday Times reports today of a "Network Rail Squeeze" and a "deepening funding crisis at Network Rail." The newspaper reports: "The Department for Transport is finalising plans for Network Rail’s next funding period, from 2019 to 2024, but is only expected to publish an outline of these later this month."

[The Government is required by law to issue its plans for the next funding period (Control Period CP6, 2019-2024) by 20 July. This takes the form of a High Level Output Statement (HLOS) and a Statement of Funds Available (SOFA), also known as the Railways Act Statement. Five years ago, the Government published its HLOS for the current CP5 period, which ends in March 2019. This 2012 Government Statement said in paragraph 45: "The Secretary of State wishes to see sufficient capacity north of Ely station both to provide for forecast freight flows across East Anglia and to provide the potential to enhance passenger services between Cambridge and each of Kings Lynn and Norwich." The Department for Transport's 2012 complementary document 'Illustrative Option schemes in CP5 HLOS' stated on its first page: "[the HLOS] describes strategic outcomes without referring to specific schemes but a specific scheme has been assumed for cost purposes. For example, sufficient capacity is sought at Ely to ... enhance passenger services to Kings Lynn. The industry could resolve this in a number of ways but the Department has assumed the most efficient solution is the reconstruction and expansion of Ely North Junction. If another better way of providing the capacity is identified the industry should put this forward as a solution."

[The Government has since specified 'half hourly' services between King's Cross and King's Lynn in its Train Service Requirements dated December 2015 - East Coast Mainline Minimum Service Specification (pages 362-365 of 397). £8.8 million has subsequently been provided by the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership, the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, and the Strategic Freight Network to undertake studies, currently under way, to permit the Ely Area upgrade scheme to be ready for early implementation in Control Period 6].

We will report on the new HLOS and SOFA (Railways Act Statement), referred to in today's Sunday Times article, as soon as the Government publishes them.

Friday 7 July 2017 -The East West Rail newsletter reports: "Last year the East West Rail Consortium awarded a contract to Atkins Consultants to deliver a Conditional Output Statement (COS) regarding the potential enhancements to the existing rail links between Cambridge, Norwich and Ipswich. The railway infrastructure between from Ipswich and Norwich to Cambridge is already in place, however, the routes are potentially underused. Sections of single track restricts performance and capacity [as they also do between Littleport and Downham Market and Watlington and Kings Lynn]. The study is the first step of the long term planning process to identify future rail enhancement schemes as options for investment and delivery." The Consortium says: "Keep an eye on eastwestrail.org, Twitter and Facebook over the next few weeks for a summary of the Atkin's report - and of course we'll include an update in the next newsletter."

Thursday 6 July 2017 - "Mixed response to proposed Govia train timetable changes for North Herts and South Cambs Great Northern services" report Bianca Wild & J P Asher in the Royston Crow: "Positives for passengers under the new plan include that Shepreth, Meldreth and Foxton will now have half-hourly trains throughout the day to both London and Cambridge, as opposed to the hourly services they currently have. Chair of the Meldreth, Shepreth and Foxton Rail User Group Susan van de Ven said: 'For small stations like ours, the introduction of twice-hourly trains is extremely welcome and should make rail travel a very appealing alternative to driving, to the two Cambridge stations, as well as south.' Ashwell & Morden station in Odsey will now boast five non-stop trains to London King’s Cross between 6.29am and 8.29am on weekdays, as well as six non-stop trains back between 4.42pm and 7.12pm – however this has sparked concern for parking at this, and other, smaller stations. " Commuter Edwin Kilby tells the newspaper: "Royston is not doing well out of this. Evening off-peak fast services – the sorts of trains you take if you have been to London for an evening out – will no longer stop here, instead running fast to Cambridge. We’ll also have to settle for semi-fast trains adding nearly 15 minutes to journeys. Royston is an expanding town with lots of leisure train users and this isn’t the first time train companies have tried to treat it as an unimportant backwater which gets in the way of the Cambridge express. If Royston loses its fast services it will never get them back, and it could be the thin end of the wedge for peak trains too.” [GTR's consultation, including proposed trains times for all Great Northern services including the GN Mainline Route GN1 (King's Cross-Cambridge-King's Lynn 'The Cambridge Express'), runs until 1700 on Thursday 27 July 2017 (see news item below, dated Monday 26 June 2017].

Wednesday 5 July 2017 - "Cambridge North station aims to improve both connectivity and journey times, and support regeneration and development. ... District and city authorities are using the station development as a catalyst for the development of a 34 hectare brownfield site (former railway engineering depot) with a new office development supporting in the region of 25,000 jobs, around 630 residential units and five hectares of new green space" reports 'Expanding the Railways' - a report launched today by the Campaign for Better Transport. The report is produced jointly with national rail campaigning organisation Railfuture and with support from the Department of Transport. The document is aimed at helping local authorities, developers and communities develop plans for adding new stations and lines to the network. In the section 'Supporting the economy' it highlights "Cambridgeshire County Council’s plan for a new station adjacent to Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the bio-medical campus, which are major generators of journeys in the Cambridge area." [We support "stopping where the jobs are" and are specifically looking for all Fen Line trains to stop at Cambridge North and at the mooted Cambridge South stations].

Monday 3 July 2017 - "Work has begun on the creation of more than 120 car parking spots in Ely, local councillors have announced" reports the Cambridgeshire Chambers of Commerce. The new car park is due to open later this year. The Chambers of Commerce go on to say: "The site, which is approximately one acre in size, is located near the old ‘Strikes’ bowling alley. The car park will continue the Angel Drove pricing policy where users are charged a much lower fee than in the rail station car park. The new car park will be linked to the Angel Drove car park by a proper all weather lit path suitable for buggies and wheelchairs etc." Cllr Bill Hunt, Chair of the East Cambridgeshire District Council Asset Development committee tells the Chambers: "“The extra spaces will have a positive impact for commuters but it will also help reduce congestion on the A10 and improve traffic flow by removing cars from using local roads. Coupled with the opening of the new Cambridge North railway station, it means that travelling to work by train for people in our district has become much more viable." Vice Chair of ECDC Asset Development committee, Cllr Lisa Stubbs adds: “We want to encourage more people to use rail as a way of getting to and from work so this will go a long way towards this. It also means more people can work in the hustle and bustle of Cambridge but can live in the quieter and somewhat cheaper suburbs without having too much of a commute."

Monday 3 July 2017 - We have produced a document 'Fen Line PROPOSED 2018 Great Northern (GN) timetable Mondays to Fridays' and placed this in the Members' section. This sets out a summary and analysis of the King's Lynn-King's Cross services proposed for 2018 by GTR in their Phase 2 2018 Thameslink timetable consultation, which ends at 1700 on Thursday 27 July 2017 (see news item below, dated Monday 26 June 2017). Many of these GN services are proposed to serve Cambridge North. Please note that although Thameslink services to/from Brighton/Maidstone East are proposed to/from Cambridge, there are no proposals in the consultation for Thameslink cross-London services to serve Cambridge North or stations further north.

Friday 30 June 2017 - Network Rail publishes its CP5 Enhancements Delivery Plan: Update June 2017. Projects include: Thameslink (page 7), Ely North Junction Capacity Improvement (page 26), Anglia Traction Power Supply Upgrade (page 27), Kings Lynn-Cambridge 8-car (page 33), Intercity Express Programme (IEP) - East Coast Capability (page 60), Intercity Express Programme (IEP) - East Coast Power Supply Upgrade (page 62), ECML Traction Power Supply Upgrade (page 64), Gordon Hill Turnback (page 65), Stevenage Turnback (page 66), East Coast Connectivity Fund (page 133), Cambridge North New Station (page 155) and Ely to Soham Doubling (page 161).

Wednesday 28 June 2017 - Stagecoach Group plc, which owns 90% of the Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC) franchise, reports in its Preliminary Results y/e 29 April 2017 that VTEC is making a loss. VTEC runs long distance trains from Kings Cross to places such as Leeds and Edinburgh over the same East Coast Main Line (ECML) tracks as GTR's Kings Cross-Kings Lynn trains (which turn off the ECML at Hitchin). Stagecoach Chief Executive Martin Griffiths says: "“We are engaged in discussions with the Department for Transport regarding our respective contractual rights and obligations under the current Virgin Trains East Coast franchise and reflecting the reprioritisation of Network Rail's infrastructure programme [page 2 of 40]." NR infrastructure upgrades on relevant parts of the ECML and their timing could have considerable significance for GTR operations.

Wednesday 28 June 2017 - The Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority agrees to commission the transport studies recommended to it in the Agenda papers dated Thursday 22 June 2017 (see news item of that date, below).

Wednesday 28 June 2017 - "Govia Thameslink Railway reveals plans to improve services for passengers across the South East" says GTR, describing its 2018 timetable proposals. GTR's Great Northern highlights include: "New direct services from Cambridge and Peterborough to Gatwick Airport and beyond; Creates additional direct links to Maidstone from Cambridge; Double the number of Peterborough semi-fast and Cambridge semi-fast and stopping off-peak services; Doubling length of trains between King’s Lynn and Cambridge subject to Network Rail improvements."

Monday 26 June 2017 - GTR says: "The biggest overhaul of the rail service since the swinging sixties, over £6bn of investment and three years of preparation are coming to a head. May 2018 will see the launch of an entirely new rail service" as it publishes Phase 2 of the 2018 Thameslink timetable consultation, which includes the proposed 2018 King's Lynn-King's Cross timetable [N.B. Mondays to Fridays, and GTR trains only, necessarily excluding Greater Anglia and CrossCountry services which operate over the Fen Line] on the 'transformingrail.com' website. The consultation runs until 1700 on Thursday 27 July 2017.

The main GTR consultation document [page 37 of 38] covers "Great Northern Mainline Route GN1 (Kings Lynn and Cambridge):

"Kings Lynn-Ely-Cambridge-London Kings Cross

"Serving: Kings Lynn, Watlington, Downham Market, Littleport, Ely, Waterbeach (one train per hour off peak only), Cambridge North, Cambridge and London Kings Cross.

"Some Monday to Friday peak trains may call at Royston."

GTR states for Kings Lynn-Kings Cross: "No major changes - however times of trains will change. From late 2018 following completion of infrastructure works by Network Rail many trains will be doubled in length from four to eight carriages providing much needed capacity improvements on the route."

In the main GTR consultation document [page 36 of 38] GTR also says: "We propose to improve the frequency and quality of Great Northern and Thameslink trains between Kings Lynn, Ely, Cambridge, Peterborough and London on the route to meet high passenger demand, to encourage and stimulate economic growth throughout the East Anglia region."

The main GTR consultation document further states [page 34 of 38]:

"Kings Lynn, Ely and Cambridge (fast) to London: between Ely and London Kings Cross the frequency of the Monday to Friday and Saturday off peak trains will double from 1tph to 2tph (this will apply from May 2017). Until infrastructure works are completed at Ely North Junction we are unable to increase the frequency of Kings Lynn trains as previously expected.

"From May 2017 these trains also serve the new Cambridge North station (currently once per hour).

"Network Rail is currently developing plans that will enable trains between Cambridge and Kings Lynn to operate in eight car formations proving a much needed doubling of capacity through a programme of platform extensions, power and level crossing upgrades. We will keep local stakeholders informed with the progress of this Network Rail scheme and when this will be delivered.

"The trains on this route are being replaced by modern, air conditioned, Class 387 trains which were built in 2014 and were previously operating on the Thameslink route.

"From May 2018, we propose that two trains per hour will serve Cambridge North providing fast direct trains to London Kings Cross."

We intend to collate a detailed summary and analysis of the proposed changes for Members and to publish this in the Member's section as soon as possible. We also will discuss the proposals in The Fenman issue 2017/2, which we intend to publish in mid July. Given the short timescales involved (four and a half weeks), there is insufficient time for us to consult fully with Members in the normal way - we would therefore welcome early feedback from Members. We also urge Members to make their own direct responses to the GTR consultation and send us a copy of their responses and any replies received. GTR says the best way to start a conversation with the project team is by using this email address:

gtrtimetableconsultation@gtrailway.com

Written correspondence can be sent to:

GTR 2018 Timetable Consultation
East Side Offices, Kings Cross Station
London N1C 4AP

The consultation runs until 1700 on Thursday 27 July 2017.

Thursday 22 June 2017 - The Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority publishes today the Agenda for its meeting to be held on Wednesday 28 June 2017. Item 2.2 (pages 90-135) covers the Interim Local Transport Plan and Item 2.3 (pages 136-178) covers Strategic Transport Infrastructure Schemes. The Interim Local Transport Plan (page 94ff) includes the A142 Ely Southern Bypass, new rail rolling stock, lobbying for rail passenger infrastructure and service improvements, Cambridge North station, and the A10 Foxton level crossing. The report on Strategic Transport and Infrastructure Schemes (page 136ff) seeks approval for commissioning studies on A47 dualling; A47 extension to the M11 (taking into account current studies into the A10 between Cambridge and Kings Lynn, Waterbeach Barracks [new town] including relocation of Waterbeach station, Cambridge South station, and Foxton level crossing); and Wisbech Garden Town. The studies would be made in the context of "current and future rail capacity on the Peterborough-March-Ely-Cambridge and on the Kings Lynn-Downham Market-Ely-Cambridge-London route and [also] proposals to reopen the railway between Wisbech and March, and run rail services between Wisbech and Cambridge [page 157]." Page 165 states: "From 2018, Great Northern trains between Kings Lynn and London Kings Cross via Cambridge will double in frequency from hourly to half-hourly [sic] and be formed of eight carriages per train rather than the current four. This will alleviate current crowding on services, and provide a viable alternative for more trips between Kings Lynn, Ely and Cambridge for more people compared to the private car. All of these services will stop at both Waterbeach and Cambridge North."

Thursday 22 June 2017 - " Calls for clarity on Crossrail 2 amid claims Cambridge's future could depend on it:" reports Josh Thomas in the Cambridge News. Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner "wants clarification on the government's position on Crossrail 2." The newspaper says: "Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner says it is vital improvements are made under the scheme, which would see greater capacity on the Liverpool Street line with the building of more tracks. This would allow express trains to easily overtake slower services, and would mean more trains could use the line. Although Crossrail 2 would not change infrastructure in Cambridge itself, Mr Zeichner said [at a conference yesterday] it would open up the lines between the city and London, meaning more people could travel, more quickly, between the two cities." Cambridgeshire & Peterborough mayor James Palmer tells the Cambridge News: "I have a meeting planned with the director of Crossrail 2, we need to sit down and talk about what we can do. I have got big ambitions to increase the number of trains on the line.”

Thursday 22 June 2017 - The government publishes the Gibb Report into changes recommended to improve the performance of the Southern Railway. There is content within this which is of relevance to Great Northern's King's Lynn-King's Cross route and others. Mr Gibb's report is dated Friday 30 December 2016. A summary of his recommendations can be found at page 163. The report covers, amongst much useful background information: stabling at Cambridge (page 11 of 163); station dwell times (page 14 of 163); number of services, 'firebreaks' in services to permit service recovery, and reduction of splitting/joining en route (pages 19-20 of 163); maximum 30 tph capacity of the Thameslink core with Automatic Train Operation (page 20 of 163); future of the GTR franchise (page 22 of 163); level crossing closures (page 24 of 163); Great Northern services (page 50 of 163); and future pricing and capacity use strategy between Peterborough/King's Lynn/Cambridge and London (page 75 of 163). Also published today is the Government response to the Gibb Report, in which Transport Secretary Chris Grayling says: "Work is already underway to deliver on the recommendations of the report. For example, in January 2017, I announced £300 million for Network Rail to improve rail infrastructure and resilience along the Southern and Thameslink rail networks. This will underpin the delivery of the Thameslink Programme, and the major region-wide connectivity it will bring. GTR’s public consultation on the Thameslink timetable is about to enter its next phase, we look forward to hearing people’s views and ideas on service timing and frequency. Chris Gibb also recommended setting up a Thameslink Industry Readiness Board, which we did in January this year, with him as chair. Their role is to independently review, direct and challenge the industry programme delivering Thameslink 2018. Further work and assessment is needed from industry on a small number of Chris Gibb’s recommendations. This reflects the fact that his role was never to set out detailed business cases for particular initiatives, or determine the impacts on public spending." He also says: "In many respects, Chris Gibb’s advice aligns with the direction I want the industry to take as rail travel increases." The London Reconnections website has an useful commentary, 'How Can You Mend A Broken Railway? Thameslink and the Gibb Report'

Wednesday 21 June 2017 - The Greater Cambridge City Deal sets out a refreshed vision for how it will "accelerate the building of thousands of new homes and jobs and create a fit-for-the-future transport network." The Greater Cambridge City Deal partnership, which will shortly become known as the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP), also says: "Greater Cambridge remains one of only a handful of city regions to makes a net contribution to the UK economy but - with the population set to rise by 30% over the coming years – the cost of housing, traffic congestion and pollution will get worse if no action is taken. ... [The Partnership] will use its collective voice to influence national transport agencies and service providers to bring earlier benefits – including a third rail station for Cambridge near Addenbrooke’s [Cambridge South]."

In our document 'Linking homes and jobs needs more and longer trains' we call for:

Stopping where the jobs are - Make all Fen Line trains call at Cambridge North from May 2017 [this is currently not the case but Network Rail's Kings Lynn– Cambridge 8-car scheme - see page 33 of 189 in the June 2017 issue of NR's Enhancement Delivery Plan - is aimed at delivering this] and speed up a Cambridge Biomedical Campus station (Cambridge South).

Dealing with the crowds - Run 8-car Kings Lynn-Kings Cross trains (maintaining existing stopping patterns where appropriate) in the morning and evening peaks (i.e. in both the London peaks and the Cambridge peaks) ASAP.

Removing those remaining fragile connections at Cambridge by running all our trains direct to King’s Cross. [The May 2017 timetable has made this situation even worse - the 0517 King's Lynn-Liverpool Street arrives in Cambridge platform 1 at 0610, commuters run along the platforms and over the footbridge to catch the retimed 0614 (previously 0615) Cambridge-King's Cross from platform 8]. Fill the big gap in the afternoon high peak at Cambridge with a King’s Lynn train leaving Cambridge about 1710-1715 and extend the 1714 King’s Cross-Ely to King’s Lynn.

Wednesday 21 June 2017 - "New warning system improves safety at level crossings in Cambridgeshire" says Network Rail. "The system has been installed at footpath level crossings where the user is required to stop, look and listen for a train before crossing. When a person arrives at the crossing and a train is approaching, the system reproduces the sound of a train horn. This is an additional warning to complement the real train horn on its approach." NR states that the new warning system has between installed at Clayway foot crossing, Littleport; this is one of the crossings included in the proposed Network Rail (Cambridgeshire) Level Crossing Reduction Order (see news item below, dated Monday 10 April 2017).

Wednesday 21 June 2017 - " ...an upgrade and electrification of the Felixstowe to Nuneaton corridor would allow more freight services to avoid London" states the London Mayor in his Draft Transport Strategy [page 82 of 151]. This corridor runs via the Ely Area. The Mayor wishes to use current freight train paths which run via London for more passenger services there.

Tuesday 20 June 2017 - "ANOTHER new Cambridge train station could be here within four years" reports Josh Thomas in the Cambridge News today. "Another new railway station could be a matter of years away as the region’s new mayor says he hopes to see results during his term in office. Following the opening of Cambridge North station in May, people are already looking at future rail options, with hopes that a new railway station at Addenbrooke’s hospital will soon be completed." James Palmer, mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, tells the newspaper: "I am very impatient, and I have got meetings lined up with the Secretary of State, and with Network Rail, and I will be pushing for Cambridge South. All these rail upgrades need to be sorted. We have got a growing economy, and it’s important to encourage it."

Wednesday 14 June 2017 - Today's GTR Annual Stakeholder Conference covers a range of significant issues (the conference link is in the Members' section). In particular, we highlight the statement that there must be ("what we still need to do together"- page 28 of 162) the "development of one controlling mind on [Network Rail's] SE/LNE and Anglia routes". We called for "a single franchisee/Network Rail alliance, or similar, along an entire service length" in FLUA's response to the DfT's consultations on the combined Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise and on the Intercity East Coast franchise [reply to Q1] (see news item below, dated Friday 3 August 2012). We pointed out that the King's Lynn-King's Cross service crosses a administrative boundary between NR's Anglia and LNE 'Routes' and that we consider "unified management of train and track would be in the interests of passengers: operationally when things go wrong and managerially when planning and implementing service and infrastructure upgrades". The statement regarding the necessity of developing 'one controlling mind' made today (which also takes into account the complexities of am additional, third NR route [SE] being involved when Thameslink trains start to run to/from Cambridge in 2018) reflects our concerns.

Friday 9 June 2017 - Network Rail publishes its Railway Upgrade Plan 2017/8, saying: "We have one of the most heavily congested railways in Europe. Stations and platforms have to accommodate more passengers than they were ever designed for. Parts of the network have no room to run the extra trains that are needed to meet demand. Here you can find out about the major projects we will be completing in the year ahead that will start to address some of these challenges and allow for more trains, longer trains and faster journeys in different parts of Britain." Please note that the 'Our routes [administrative areas] at a glance' listing on page 08 is incorrect: the Govia Thameslink Railway (Great Northern) King's Lynn-King's Cross Fen Line service operates on NR's Anglia Route and London North Eastern and East Midlands (LNE&EM) Route - as do other GTR services. The diagram on page 08, which shows Govia Thameslink Railway as operating on NR's South East Route and no other does not show the true situation. Also published are Railway Upgrade Plan - Anglia and Railway Upgrade Plan - London North Eastern and East Midlands; Kings Lynn-Cambridge-Kings Cross services run in both of these two NR Routes (areas). The proposed Cambridge-Brighton and Cambridge-Maidstone services, due to start operating in 2018, will run in NR's Anglia, London North Eastern & East Midlands and South East Routes (areas); the Railway Upgrade Plan - South East has been published as well. [Govia Thameslink Railway has since stressed the need for the "development of one controlling mind on [Network Rail's] SE/LNE and Anglia routes" - something necessary in the light of the need to integrate Great Northern and Thameslink service operations (see news item above, dated Wednesday 14 June 2017)].

Monday 5 June 2017 - "Cambridge North station – how many people are using it?" asks Jasmine Watkiss in the Cambridge News. "Some people have felt the station is strangely empty since it opened officially just under two weeks ago ... The number of passengers that used Cambridge North in the first week of operation was around 4,200, according to Greater Anglia. A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia said: 'This number is based on data where the start or end station on customers' tickets was Cambridge North. This means the figure does not take into account any breaks in a journey where people got off one train and changed to a different one, or where passengers with tickets to Cambridge have instead used Cambridge North. We need at least three months' worth of data to really understand usage of the station.'" The newspaper conducted its own survey on Thursday 1 June (half term) and 351 people used the station between 0700 and 0900, the Cambridge News remarking: "A few passengers on the day had replaced their lengthy commute on the A10 with hopping on a train to Cambridge North from Ely, and others were using Cambridge North as it is so close to the Science Park, where they worked." [We are pressing for the earliest implementation of Network Rail's King's Lynn-Cambridge 8-car scheme (page 34 of linked document), which, by doubling the number of seats per train, will permit currently overcrowded Fen Line trains to stop at Cambridge North. This will enable commuters and business users from Kings Lynn, Watlington, Downham Market, Littleport and Waterbeach to access the new Cambridge North station].

Friday 2 June 2017 - Rachel McMenemy writes "Great Northern accused of carriage changes that pack people in even tighter on trains" in the Cambridge News. "New trains from Great Northern, running at the new Cambridge North station, have been accused of having reduced seating that means people are crammed in and standing on journeys. Great Northern has replaced old 365 class trains with newer 387 class which have been in operation for two years on the Thameslink route. The trains have fewer seats to make them compatible with safety regulations which require the seats to be further away from bulkheads than on older trains." A Great Northern spokesman tells the newspaper that the additional services between King's Cross and Ely [these are the services which will run to/from Kings Lynn when the committed 'half-hourly' service is introduced] provide more than 3,300 additional seats a day and that "Network Rail is also working towards completing upgrades by the end of next year which would let Great Northern double the length of trains from King’s Lynn to eight carriages - producing another large increase in seats for passengers on this route." [We understand that the class 365 train has 263 seats in a 4-car train and that the new class 387/1 train, which runs between Kings Lynn and Kings Cross, has 223 seats. Please see notes at foot of news item below, dated Tuesday 30 May 2017].

Tuesday 30 May 2017 - "Train company defends what one commuter has described as 'hell' for the Ely to King’s Cross journey" writes Kath Samson in the Ely Standard. Commuter Jamie King tells the newspaper: "I have lived in Soham since 1998 and have commuted via Ely station, mainly to London ever since. I have never known such awful journeys. I can’t imagine the people who inflicted this atrocious service on us actually use trains themselves, because if they did they wouldn’t be trumpeting announcements about a so-called improved service. ... Any regular commuter who has endured a rush hour journey between Kings Cross and Ely this week will intuitively know there are fewer seats, simply based on the miserable, crowded journeys they’ve experienced. ... I believe dissatisfaction is widespread. Fellow commuters are being done a huge disservice by recent changes. I pity those who travel from further afield, such as Littleport, Downham Market and Kings Lynn." A Great Northern spokesperson tells the Ely Standard: “We are sorry to hear a reader is unhappy with our new trains, especially as we have received some very positive feedback since their introduction on the route on May 22. ... With the opening of the new route to Cambridge North station, Ely now has a half hourly Great Northern service in each direction all day, which adds over 3,300 more seats across the day (40 per cent more) by doubling the frequency in the off-peak and plugging service gaps at this station in the peak. Network Rail is also working towards completing upgrades by the end of next year which would let Great Northern double the length of trains from King’s Lynn to eight carriages - producing another large increase in seats for passengers on this route.” [The Eversholt class 365 datasheet shows 263 seats in a 100 mph 4-car class 365 unit ('old' train). This varies slightly in practice. The Porterbrook class 387 brochure shows 219 seats in a 110 mph 4-car class 387/1 unit ('new' train), though the trains are labelled as having 223 seats. We continue to press for the earliest implementation of the King's Lynn-Cambridge 8-car scheme [page 34], which, as well as doubling the number of seats per train (446 in an 8-car class 387/1 train) will permit currently overcrowded Fen Line trains to stop at the new Cambridge North station. The 125/140 mph type 3 Super Express Trains for the Fen Line proposed under the Government's Intercity Express Programme - see our document Kings Cross-Kings Lynn 100 miles of route, 20 years of planning - would have had 351 seats per 5-car unit; the carriages would have been longer so that a 5 car Super Express Train would have been equivalent in length to a 6 car class 387/1 or 365 unit].

Friday 26 May 2017 - " New look trains at Lynn" reports 'yourlocalpaper'. The newspaper says: "Network Rail is working towards completing upgrades by the end of next year which would allow Great Northern to double the length of trains from Lynn to eight carriages. This would then allow these trains to stop at Cambridge North."

Thursday 25 May 2017 - "Software update needed: Door-opening problem on Cambridge North trains. Rail bosses say software needs updating" is the headline of Chris Elliott's Cambridge News article. "A rail passenger says the doors on a train he was travelling on did not open when it pulled into the new Cambridge North station. Adrian Stevens tweeted: 'Trains not opening doors at new #cambridgeNorth. Class 387 GPS software doesn't like the station!' Train operator Great Northern has admitted software needs to be updated, but has added that there is no need for each door to be opened singly and manually. The company said the software allows trains to work out where they are, and this has to happen before the doors can be opened." [We have been receiving news from Members about issues with the new trains and are aware that the door opening issue is not restricted to Cambridge North. We invite Members to continue to send your comments to add to our own observations].

Thursday 25 May 2017 - "Is it quicker to get to London from Waterbeach or Cambridge North?" Ciaran Gold says in the Cambridge News that "a regular train user has suggested travelling from the new Cambridge station may take longer." GN spokesman Roger Perkins tells the newspaper: "Which station gets you into London faster depends on what time passengers are travelling during the hour. From Cambridge North, we have two direct trains an hour to London King's Cross. One runs non-stop from Cambridge and takes just 54 or 57 minutes. The other is a stopping service, that takes 1 hour 33 minutes. Therefore, it may be quicker at some points in the hour to take a Greater Anglia train from Cambridge North to Cambridge to pick up the second fast train an hour to King's Cross, which comes from Waterbeach. A simple search on the National Rail Enquiries journey planner shows the different options to make it easy for passengers to decide what they want to do." The article points out that journeys from Waterbeach may be quicker at certain times. Mr Perkins goes on to tell the Cambridge News: "Why can't the Waterbeach trains stop at Cambridge North ? This was reported in the Cambridge News a couple of weeks ago: it's because these trains are currently only four carriages long and do not have the capacity to cope with the additional numbers of passengers who would use them to get to the new station. We can't run anything longer because the trains come from King's Lynn and stop at Littleport, Watlington and Waterbeach itself, which don't have platforms long enough for eight carriage trains. Network Rail is working on making changes that would allow us to double the length of these trains and they're working towards a date of December 2018 to do this."

Tuesday 23 May 2017 - Three full pages of today's Cambridge News, as well as the front page, are devoted to a Cambridge North special. The main article is headlined "How new station offers northern delights - Cambridge North opened to commuters yesterday - Tom Pilgrim went to try it out by taking a trip to King's Lynn" [pages 4 and 5]. "The four carriage 7.37 Great Northern service to King's Lynn pulls in and I jump on. I ride in one of the train operator's new fleet of modern trains. Great Northern plans to replace three quarters of its fleet by 2020. The trains, which have already been running between Cambridge and London for some months, are now being rolled out on services up towards King's Lynn. ... Govia Thameslink Railway infrastructure director, Keith Jipps, later tells me that the model runs more efficiently than older trains, citing their greater acceleration and a shorter braking requirements. ... A smooth journey mean we reach King's Lynn at 8.20 and there's enough time to grab a bacon buttie and coffee at the station café before heading back south. ... A group of local dignitaries gather in front of the 9.30am service to mark the rolling out of the new trains and extra services from Great Northern. King's Lynn and West Norfolk mayor, Cllr Carol Bower, tells the crowd: 'I really am very pleased that Great Northern and the users group have worked so closely together and this is a very happy outcome.' Two trains an hour from King's Cross will call at Cambridge North, but only four trains a day will run between King's Lynn and the new station because of track congestion and village platform length. Keith Jipps explains that Great Northern is working with Network Rail to extend platforms along the Fen Line route to accommodate eight car trains. Upgrades to Foxton, Shepreth and Meldreth [south of Cambridge] are expected to be complete by May 2018, with Waterbeach, Watlington and Littleport following suit in December 2018. 'It's not ideal no,' says Keith, 'But it's really the platform lengths that are stopping us being able to do that.' ... On the return trip to Cambridge North I'm allowed to pop into the front cabin and meet driver Derek who tells me the new trains are "more comfortable". Whizzing along the tracks at a maximum of 90 miles per hour is an exhilarating sight and before long we are back to join a throng of reporters at Cambridge North. Jamie Burles, managing director of Greater Anglia, the other operator running services to Cambridge North, greets Keith with a firm handshake off the train."

Tuesday 23 May 2017 - "Commuters celebrate 'fabulous' new station" is the headline of today's Cambridge News, which goes on to say: "Passengers praise its 'stunning design' - cyclists welcome 1,000 bike parking spaces - but, travellers could be caught short, says rail user. "Brand new jobs available around the corner from Cambridge North Station - and you can apply right now" - the Cambridge News details some of the jobs which are now accessible by rail.

Tuesday 23 May 2017 - "Campaigners hail new trains on Fen Line" writes Allister Webb in the Lynn News, "Improved rail link unveiled as new Cambridge station opens. ... Colin Sampson, chairman of the Fen Line Users Association, described the launch as a 'splendid day' for passengers in the area. He said: 'It's the beginning of a new era.'" Great Northern's Infrastructure Director tells the paper that: "the new trains were designed to make up time is they are delayed on route and are intended to provide a more consistent service to passengers." [The new 387 trains have greater acceleration/deceleration than the old ones and are capable of running at 110mph - that part of the Kings Lynn-Kings Cross route which is south of Hitchin is largely designed for 125 mph running]. The newspaper also says that Mr Jipps "paid tribute to FLUA for their work to lobby for improvements to the line, saying they had been 'instrumental' to the progress so far." Borough mayor Carol Bower tells the Lynn News [full page story on page 6] "We hope it will encourage greater investment in the whole borough. This is really needed for us to be really vibrant and we know it." The Lynn News, News Editor comments: "An improvement but more needed. ... while the promise of [forthcoming] free Wi-fi will also make it more tempting to let the train take the strain, the biggest problem faced by commuters in this area, the lack of seating capacity still needs to be properly resolved.... The challenge for those recently elected, and those seeking election, is to make the industry deliver."

Monday 22 May 2017 - "Cambridge looks ahead to another new train station at Addenbrooke's Hospital. Cambridge North took a long time to deliver, but there are hopes a new railway station in the south of the city could be completed more quickly" writes Josh Thomas in the Cambridge News. "Cllr Lewis Herbert, leader of Cambridge City Council, welcomed the opening of the new station and reaffirmed his desire to see another one open in the south of the city.... He said he is hopeful the new station will not take as long to deliver as Cambridge North, but noted that having to put in additional tracks would complicate the project. He added: 'We are determined that Cambridge South station will be delivered quickly. There has already been a lot of work done but, if it needs four tracks, it could take longer. There has been a great offer of private financing. The plan for the biomedical campus proposes 25,000 new jobs when it is complete. This will generate a lot of trips and there will also be bigger links between the north and the south because that’s where our main research hubs are' .... The Department for Transport has previously said they are working closely with Cambridgeshire County Council and said they would deliver improvements, including a new railway station at Addenbrooke’s, 'as soon as we can'."

Monday 22 May 2017 - "Landmark day for city as commuters begin using new Cambridge North railway station. The £50 million Cambridge station was 30 years in the making" reports Tom Pilgrim in the Cambridge News. "The station will support commuters heading to the business and science parks and those travelling from communities and villages to the north of the city. First mooted in the late 1980s, the station was due to open in December 2015, but this was pushed back on successive occasions. ... Coinciding with the opening of Cambridge North, Great Northern has launched a new fleet of air-conditioned trains on its Cambridge to King's Lynn services, that will feature free wi-fi in the coming months. It has also increased its Cambridge to Ely services to regular half hourly trains all day."

Monday 22 May 2017 - "East Anglia’s newest railway station now open" reports the Cambridge Network. Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia Managing Director, says: “This is great news for Greater Anglia and for Cambridge. The existing station at Cambridge is one of our busiest stations. This station should relieve some of the pressure on it. It takes about 30 minutes to drive from Cambridge station to Cambridge North, but just six minutes by train, so it should be a great boost to people commuting to work in the science park, or for people commuting from northern suburbs or villages. It’s a fantastic design, incorporating Cambridge’s innovative heritage, and one of the most environmentally-friendly stations on the network. Cambridge is a thriving city and this station will help to make rail travel even more attractive, as well as supporting the continued growth of the local economy.” Bob Menzies, service director strategy and development for Cambridgeshire County Council, says: “We developed a design in partnership with Network Rail that integrated all the local transport into the new station. We very much see it as an integrated transport hub. It had to function well as a railway station, be reasonably economical to build but also resonate with Cambridge. I think that it will come to be a bit of a landmark.”

Monday 22 May 2017 - Radio station KLFM96.7 reports "Increased capacity for West Norfolk trains ... Newer, modern air-conditioned trains have started serving West Norfolk. Great Northern introduced the replacement carriages on the King's Lynn-Cambridge Fen Line when the new summer timetable came in on Sunday." Great Northern's Passenger Services Director Stuart Cheshire says: "Network Rail is working towards upgrading power supplies and lengthening platforms by the end of next year, at Watlington, Littleport and Waterbeach, which would let us double the length of these trains to eight carriages to increase capacity for passengers."

Monday 22 May 2017 - "LIVE: 'We've needed this for years' - rail users delighted with new Cambridge North station" writes Steven Bevan, as the Cambridge News runs a special live feature from the new Cambridge North station today. Significant points include:

0902 Reporter Chris Elliott says: "It is amazing really. There is a party atmosphere and I think it is pretty good. There is a lot of interest, but people are still a bit concerned that the trains are not long enough. Some people are telling me they thought there would be more room. At least they’ve got the station sorted, but there is no coffee. They say they will open a coffee shop but it won’t be straight away. It could be July. Greater Anglia [the company which operates the station] are being very nice and local software company Redgate is here giving out goody bags."

0955 Keith Jipps, from Govia Thameslink Railway, says: "the trains’ [110 mph class 387 trains are now operating between King's Lynn and King's Cross via Cambridge] greater acceleration & braking allows for more reliable timetables."

1000:"Great Northern will now have a half hourly service from Cambridge to Ely all day. That’s over 3,300 extra seats a day." "Only 4 Great Northern trains a day will run from King’s Lynn to Cambridge North due to congestion and short platforms at other stations."

1007 "Keith Jipps, from Great Northern, says more services to Cambridge North can run once Waterbeach etc. platforms are extended by Dec 2018."

1011: "Cambridge South next? Warnings it'll be a complex project."

1203 'Total game changer' - ... The new Cambridge North railway station opened to commuters for the first time today (May 22) after taking its first passengers yesterday - and people are already loving it. [Cambridge News] Readers have been voicing their approval this morning - with one calling it a ‘total game changer’."

Monday 22 May 2017 - "It's great for Cambridge obviously, great for our passengers and, of course, another great first for Greater Anglia" says GA's Managing Director Jamie Burles in Greater Anglia's youtube video, which also shows passengers talking enthusiastically about the new station.

Monday 22 May 2017 - "Modern air-conditioned trains take over King’s Lynn route as Great Northern services are doubled at Ely... Great Northern, run by Govia Thameslink Railway, today replaced all the trains between King's Lynn and Cambridge with modern, air-conditioned carriages, just in time for summer. And in the next few months, passengers will be able to log on to free Wi-Fi. At the same time, Great Northern doubled the service at Ely station and introduced a twice-hourly service between London King’s Cross and the new station at Cambridge North." Great Northern's statement says: "One of the Cambridge North trains will continue on to Ely, giving Ely a half hourly Great Northern service in each direction all day, which adds over 3,300 more seats across the day (40% more) by doubling the frequency in the off-peak and plugging service gaps at this station in the peak." Keith Jipps, Great Northern's Infrastructure Director adds: "This should ease crowding on the King's Lynn services which will be a real boon for our passengers.” GN's statement also points out: "Network Rail is working towards completing upgrades by the end of next year which would let Great Northern double the length of trains from King’s Lynn to eight carriages. This would then allow these trains to stop at Cambridge North."

Sunday 21 May 2017 - The Cambridge Independent's Adrian Curtis writes: "Cambridge North railway station finally opens ... Built at a cost of £44million, the facilities include a 450 sq m (4,800sq ft) station, comprising a passenger waiting area, toilets, ticket office, retail and amenity space, and staff accommodation. ... A bridge links the station building with the two 254m (833ft) platforms, each capable of accommodating 12-car trains. The easternmost platform faces the up line of the Fen Line, while the second platform is an island platform with the down Fen Line on one side and a south-facing bay platform on the other. In the morning rush hour, there will be four trains an hour to London: three to King’s Cross and one to Liverpool Street. In the opposite direction, there will be two trains an hour to Ely and one continuing onto Norwich. Thameslink is proposing that Great Northern services between King’s Cross and King’s Lynn will call at the station from May next year. This will provide an additional fast service to London and regular connections to Waterbeach and Downham Market."

Sunday 21 May 2017 - A further new era for the Fen Line starts today. " Delayed £50m Cambridge North railway station opens" reports the BBC. " LIVE: Passengers board the first train at Cambridge North Station " says Helen Frame of the Cambridge News. "Rail users get first taste of new Cambridge station" reports Matthew Hudson for ITV.

Saturday 20 May 2017 - A new era opens - Norfolk's (but not Cambridgeshire's) fastest trains start to take up Fen Line duties. 110mph class 387 units nos 108 and 106 operate the 1814 King's Lynn-King's Cross service this evening - the first of the new trains to run on the Fen Line north of Ely in normal passenger service.

Saturday 20 May 2017 - "RLW Estates - New Town Update" is the headline of an article in the latest edition of Beach News, published by Waterbeach Community Association [page 32]. The article reports that, following RLW Estates exhibition at Waterbeach held on Saturday 22 April, 43% of those surveyed by RLW Estates 'strongly agreed' and 26.3% 'agreed' with the statement "A new relocated Waterbeach station with facilities is needed."

Friday 19 May 2017 - " Multi-million pound Cambridge North station poised for official opening " reports ITV News: "A brand new train station is opening in Cambridge North on Sunday [21 May 2017]... It's great news for those wishing to travel between the city centre and Cambridge science and business parks, or the suburbs and villages to the North of Cambridge, as they will no longer have to make the half hour drive, as it'll be only 6 minutes by rail now." The Cambridge News asks: "Trying to work out if Cambridge North will be your nearest station? We've done it for you." The newspaper says: "Cambridge will soon have an extra railway station - but is it closer to you than the existing one?" Tom Pilgrim writes: "Where's my nearest station? The image below [shown on the Cambridge News' website] displays a two mile radius around Cambridge railway station as well as Cambridge North and Waterbeach. ... Milton residents are marginally closer to the new station than Waterbeach to the North." The Cambridge News also says: "According to Google maps, it takes 45 minutes to walk from the Cambridge North into Market Square."

Monday 15 May 2017 - Greater Anglia posts "Cambridge to Cambridge North: train driver's view" video on youtube. The new station opens on Sunday 21 May 2017. More station information from Greater Anglia here. For fares easements to/from Fen Line stations, please see news item below, dated Wednesday 10 May 2017.

Monday 15 May 2017 - "First steps agreed for Cambridge underground metro project " writes Josh Thomas in the Cambridge News, "Cambridgeshire mayor James Palmer is keen on an underground system for the city." Mr Palmer told the newspaper: "light rail would serve the county, [and] felt Cambridge needed to 'get serious' about tackling congestion if it wanted to be seen as a real competitor to Silicon Valley when trying to attract big businesses."

Monday 15 May 2017 - It has been drawn to our attention that the Liberal Democrat party has launched a campaign to 'Deliver a new rail station at Addenbrooke's' . [Please note that the Association necessarily has no links with any political party; it does support the construction of a new station at Cambridge South/Addenbrooke's/Cambridge Biomedical Campus].

Wednesday 10 May 2017 - We have written to the Secretary of State for Transport submitting supplementary evidence to add to our Representation of Support made in the matter of the proposed Network Rail (Cambridgeshire) Level Crossing Reduction Order; see news items below, dated Monday 10 April 2017, Thursday 20 April 2017 and Sunday 7 May 2017.

Wednesday 10 May 2017 - Fares easements "For new station at Cambridge North open from 21 May 2017 Added 700713: Customers travelling to Cambridge North, from Waterbeach, Ely, Littleport, Downham Market, Watlington and Kings Lynn are permitted to doubleback via Cambridge. This positive doubleback easement applies in both directions" and "MANUAL EASEMENT - not used in journey planners - implemented locally Added 700714: Tickets to/from Cambridge are also valid at Cambridge North and tickets to/from Cambridge North are also valid at Cambridge. This easement covers all tickets, including season tickets, except Advance tickets" added to Routeing Guide Updates issued by the Rail Delivery Group today.

Sunday 7 May 2017 - "Police investigation launched after driver allegedly seen dicing with death at Foxton level crossing" writes Tara Cox in the Cambridge News. "British Transport Police are investigating 'an incident of dangerous driving' after a driver allegedly overtook another stationary car waiting at the red lights of the crossing, where a ‘stop’ line is clearly visible. Officers say the driver then passed over the level crossing as the barriers were lowering. ... Speaking to the News, a spokesman for British Transport Police said: 'We're investigating an incident of dangerous driving at Foxton level crossing on April 30, at approximately 3pm. A vehicle overtook another stationary vehicle waiting at the red lights and stop line. It passed through as the barriers were lowering. We have sent the driver a Notice of Intended Prosecution (NIP) and have begun legal proceedings using legislation from the Road Traffic Act.'" [Foxton A10 level crossing is on the King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross route used by Fen Line trains. We will be adding supplementary evidence to our Representation of Support for Network Rail's level crossing reduction application; see news items below, dated Monday 10 April 2017 and Thursday 20 April 2017. Foxton A10 level crossing is not included in Network Rail's current plans].

Friday 5 May 2017 - "One of our great railway users and councillors has said he is 'thrilled' at the refurbishment of Downham Market railway station," writes Paul Thomas in 'yourlocalpaper' [page 10]. "Cllr Colin Sampson [FLUA's Chairman] welcomed the 'brush up' as an homage to the great work 30 years ago by current Railway Heritage Trust man Chris Green. In 1986 Mr Green was the man credited with saving the Downham station and line when he was at the now defunct Network SouthEast [Mr Green was the Director of BR's Network SouthEast business, responsible for the electrification of the King's Lynn route]. Describing the station's revival of Network SouthEast colours, Cllr Sampson tells 'yourlocalpaper' it's a "thank you" to the man who saved the line. "I am thrilled. It was my idea to go with the colours as a thank you to Chris. Since his intervention to save the line and a direct route to London, rather than leave us with a shuttle service and a change, we have gone from strength to strength."

Friday 5 May 2017 - "New services ‘will help ease West Norfolk rail crowding’- operator: extra services announced ahead of opening of new Cambridge North station" says News Editor Allister Webb in the Lynn News [page 8]. "Extra trains on part of West Norfolk’s rail line will help cut overcrowding for passengers here, until longer units can be brought into service, company bosses say. Industry officials have already signalled their intention to run eight-carriage trains, instead of the current standard four, between Lynn and Cambridge from late next year. But rail operator Great Northern has now announced plans to introduce extra trains between Ely, Cambridge and London later this month. The firm says the move will provide an extra 3,300 seats each day, increasing capacity by 40 per cent." The article includes pictures of the interior and exterior of the new class 387 trains. "These extra trains should ease crowding on the King’s Lynn services, which will be a real boon for our passengers" Stuart Cheshire, GN passenger services director, tells the Lynn News, which also reports: "A rail summit in Downham in January was told officials were aiming to run longer trains to and from Lynn from late 2018."

Friday 5 May 2017 - Tom Pilgrim writes in the Cambridge News: "Here's a sneak peek of the new train fleet to serve Cambridge: Great Northern will be rolling out the modern air-conditioned trains from May 21. ... The air-conditioned trains will be fitted with wi-fi and join services on the King’s Lynn to Cambridge Fen Line route from May 21." GN Passenger Director Stuart Cheshire tells the paper: "Network Rail's work to lengthening platforms at Watlington, Littleport and Waterbeach by the end of 2018 will allow Great Northern to double the length of the trains calling at these stations." The Cambridge News reports that "The operator will have two trains an hour in each direction to the new station from King’s Cross via Cambridge. One of these trains will continue on to Ely, giving Ely a half hourly Great Northern service in each direction all day."

Friday 5 May 2017 - "Town's heritage makeover unveiled at railway station" reports the Lynn News in a page 35 'Downham News' article by Rebekah Chilvers. "The £64,000 investment was celebrated by officials in the town on Friday. ... The refresh saw close cooperation with West Norfolk Council and the Fen Line Users’ Association, and has included painting the booking hall, platform canopies, waiting facilities, and more." Conservative candidate for the South West Norfolk seat Liz Truss says she was 'delighted' to see the investment, telling the newspaper: "With passenger numbers increasing, and South West Norfolk proving to be an extremely attractive location for business and home owners, I am sure the refurbished heritage look will prove to be a great success.”

Thursday 4 May 2017 - "Amazon will open a new Cambridge R&D site this year adding another 400 research jobs to the 150 scientists currently working for the company in the city" reports Electronicsweekly.com. The new R&D centre is next to Cambridge station.

Thursday 4 May 2017 - " Cambridge Station to have one of just seven Greater Anglia traditional ticket offices, claims union: A rail operator is planning to close ticket offices and install more machines at stations, union officials claim" writes Chris Elliott in the Cambridge News. ... [Greater Anglia] has told RMT officials it is planning to have seven 'traditional' ticket offices. Cambridge and Stansted Airport are two of them, the union says, and the others are at London Liverpool Street, Colchester, Norwich, Chelmsford, and Ipswich .... Ticket offices to be axed will close during the next year in three stages, said the RMT." Greater Anglia tells the newspaper: "We have no plans to reduce the number of Greater Anglia ticket offices to seven. However, we are currently reviewing responses to a public consultation about proposals to close seven little-used ticket offices. There are no current proposals to close any other ticket offices. We will continue to consult with our colleagues and the trades unions on any proposed changes to ticket office arrangements." In a statement, Greater Anglia says: "Over the course of our franchise, we will continue to monitor ticket sales at our other ticket offices. In line with other industries, we are seeing many customers switch to buying online or from ticket machines. As a result, we are investing significant sums in installing and improving ticket vending machines at every station and increasing the range of smart and mobile ticketing options available to our customers. Our aim is to make ticket purchase easier and more convenient for our customers." [Cambridge North, which will not have a traditional ticket office, and Ely, which has, are the two stations on the Fen Line which are run by Greater Anglia. All the others are run by Great Northern].

Thursday 4 May 2017 - "Great Northern and the Railway Heritage Trust have completed a £64 000 ‘heritage makeover‘ of Grade II listed Downham Market station, which has been restored to the colour scheme of the former Network SouthEast brand launched in 1986. ‘The improvement works have blended its Victoria heritage with modern waiting rooms and toilets, and a touch of its colourful Network SouthEast heritage‘, said Chris Green of the Railway Heritage Trust. This follows a 1950s-inspired makeover of King’s Lynn station in 2014" reports the Railway Gazette.

Wednesday 3 May 2017 - BBC News reports on "Ely and the A10: What can be done to improve it?." The broadcaster says: "The area between Ely and Cambridge is one of the fastest growing parts of the country but some say the road that links the two cities is 'unfit' for purpose. Ahead of the mayoral election in the county, BBC News looks at what could be done to improve things. It takes, on average, 45 minutes to travel the 16 miles (25km) between Cambridge and Ely on the A10. On a good day. ... A public consultation has just ended into plans for 6,500 homes off the A10, on the former site of Waterbeach barracks - three miles north of Cambridge." The news item also reports: "Among the ideas in the mix are plans to relocate Waterbeach station from the edge of the village and expand it to serve the new town - and take 12-carriage Thameslink trains."

Tuesday 2 May 2017 - "New(er) trains to serve West Norfolk from this month" reports radio station KLFM96.7. "It's been announced modern air-conditioned trains are to start serving West Norfolk from the end of the month. Great Northern's King's Lynn-Cambridge Fen Line route will see the replacement carriages when the new timetable on 21 May. It's also been confirmed 1 service each hour will be doubled in length at Ely. ... The arrival of the new carriages, [full fleet first introduced on GTR's Thameslink route in July 2015] which replace trains 22 years old, is part of an overall plan to replace three-quarters of the Great Northern fleet by 2020 – and those that remain are themselves going through a £30m refurbishment programme. "

Tuesday 2 May 2017 - "Modern air-conditioned trains to breeze on to Fen Line and Great Northern services to be doubled at Ely" says Great Northern in a press statement today. Great Northern Passenger Services Director Stuart Cheshire says: "As we head into summer, these modern air conditioned trains will keep passengers as cool as a cucumber. We think passengers will love the Wi-Fi that we’ll be adding in the coming months and the on-board information systems and power points at every pair of seats. Plus, with their accessible toilets and designated areas for wheelchair users, the trains will be great for people with restricted mobility. Furthermore, Network Rail is working towards upgrading power supplies and lengthening platforms by the end of next year, at Watlington, Littleport and Waterbeach, which would let us double the length of these trains to eight carriages to increase capacity for passengers. The arrival of the new trains, on 21 May, coincides with the opening of a new station built by Network Rail and managed by Greater Anglia at Cambridge North, to serve the renowned Cambridge Business Park. Great Northern will have two trains an hour in each direction to the new station from King’s Cross via Cambridge. One of these trains will continue on to Ely, giving Ely a half-hourly Great Northern service in each direction all day, which adds over 3,300 more seats across the day (40% more) by doubling the frequency in the off-peak and plugging service gaps at this station in the peak." Stuart adds: "Crucially, although most of the four-carriage King’s Lynn trains cannot stop at Cambridge North [peak trains are already tightly packed with standing passengers] until platforms are lengthened at Watlington, Littleport and Waterbeach, these one dozen extra King’s Cross trains at Ely should ease crowding on the King's Lynn services which will be a real boon for our passengers."

Saturday 29 April 2017 - "Investment in Ely North junction will allow more frequent and larger trains to travel across Cambridgeshire" James Palmer, Conservative candidate for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mayor, tells the Cambridgeshire Independent. Ben Comber reports on responses to his question "How would Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayoral candidates tackle the region’s transport challenge?" Labour's candidate Kevin Price tells the newspaper: "I want to work with Network Rail for new or reopened stations at places like Addenbrooke’s ..."

Saturday 29 April 2017 - Chris Bishop writes in today's Eastern Daily Press: "Red, white and blue makeover for Downham Market Railway Station." His article, which takes up page 8, is accompanied by his photograph of the new, 'old style' Network SouthEast station nameboard, alongside which are Chris Green from the Railway Heritage Trust [and former Network SouthEast director]; our Chairman, Colin Sampson; Andrew Sidgwick, from Great Northern; Elizabeth Truss MP and station manager Graham Pratt. Andrew Sidgwick, programme manager for Great Northern, which runs trains between Lynn and London King's Cross, tells the EDP: “This is one of many things we, as a train operator, are looking at doing in Downham Market. There’ll be new ticketing machines, timetabling improvements, lots of good stuff coming up over the next couple of years”; Chris Green comments: "It’s great to see a line bulging with passengers and needing more trains and tracks,” he said. “I like what I’m seeing today. I commend a visit to the toilets - they’re superb." The newspaper also reveals: "Back on Platform One, a prospective tenant has now been found for the former Railway Arms, a lineside micro-pub [and station cafe] which closed in October after a row over rent. An as-yet un-named local business is expected to re-open the popular watering hole."

Thursday 20 April 2017 - "Rail passenger group blasts 'poor' communication on new Cambridge North station" writes Tom Pilgrim in the Cambridge News, "Railfuture, which campaigns for better rail services, said that it was "disappointed" with the information available to the public around Cambridge North's opening on May 21." The newspaper says: "Information available shows that there are no direct services between Peterborough and Cambridge North, and very limited options from Waterbeach and Littleport. Great Northern previously told the News that overcrowding on existing services and the need to upgrade Waterbeach to accommodate eight-car trains meant fewer services [there will not be fewer trains calling at Waterbeach in May 2017]. ... [Railfuture's] Mr Alderson said: "Network Rail is progressing with the platform extensions at Foxton and Shepreth and they will be in use later this year. It is a pity that Network Rail has not started the design work for the very simple platform extensions at Waterbeach. It is also confusing that Great Northern is suggesting they will be in use from December 2018 but Network Rail merely says it 'hopes' to have them complete 'by the end of 2019.'"

Thursday 20 April 2017 - The Department for Transport publishes the East Anglia Franchise Agreement and associated Train Service Requirements. These cover Greater Anglia services running to/from Liverpool Street, but not Great Northern's Kings Lynn-Cambridge-Kings Cross service, which is part of the TSGN franchise. Highlights include: Greater Anglia Fen Line service to remain broadly as now, but new Saturday AM King's Lynn-Liverpool Street train and PM return working from May 2020; Cambridge-Liverpool Street maximum journey time: 79 minutes, but 13 trains within 67 minutes; Liverpool Street-Cambridge maximum journey time: 79 minutes, but 13 trains within 67 minutes; King's Lynn station to be capable of handling a 240m length Greater Anglia train (2x5-car or 1x10-car) by 1 September 2018; Ticket gateline at Ely by 30 April 2018; 100 additional car parking spaces at Ely (by decking) by 17 October 2020; 500 additional cycle spaces at Ely by 31 December 2020.

Wednesday 19 April 2017 - Greater Anglia writes to us to say they "can confirm that doubling back at Cambridge, off the Fen line, will be initially allowed." We are grateful to both train companies for acting quickly to provide this important passenger information (see news item below, dated Tuesday 18 April 2017).

UPDATE: It has been pointed out to us that the National Rail Enquiries website may contain anomalies in respect of Waterbeach to Cambridge North fares. In view of the clear commitment by both Greater Anglia and Great Northern, our understanding is that passengers wishing to travel from Waterbeach to Cambridge North may buy the appropriate Waterbeach-Cambridge North ticket and travel (when no direct service to Cambridge North exists) via the existing Cambridge station, doubling back from there. Doubling back via the existing Cambridge station on the return journey (when no direct service to Waterbeach exists) would also be permissible.

Please note that there has been NO Waterbeach-Cambridge North ticket easement via ELY conveyed to us and two tickets would seem to be necessary at a HIGHER fare should passengers wish to make the journey via Ely. Should we learn differently, we would publish any change on this website.

All fares information on this website is given in good faith but necessarily also on the basis that the Association can take no responsibility for its accuracy.

Tuesday 18 April 2017 - Network Rail publishes its Route Specifications 2017 London North Eastern and East Midlands. This includes sections SRS G01–King’s Cross - Peterborough and SRS G.04 - Hitchin - Cambridge. For SRS G01 King's Cross-Peterborough [page 03-06] Network Rail says: "The route carries suburban services from King’s Cross and Moorgate to various destinations in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, and long distance high speed (LDHS) services from King’s Cross to destinations in Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland. For SRS G.04 - Hitchin - Cambridge [pages 15-18] Network Rail states: "The Hitchin to Cambridge Line extends for 23¼ miles from Hitchin Cambridge Junction (where it links to the East Coast Main Line north of Hitchin) to Shepreth Branch Junction (where it meets the West Anglia Main Line south of Cambridge). It is double track and electrified (with 25kV OHL) along its whole length. A flyover north of Hitchin removes conflicts caused by services heading towards Cambridge and Royston from Hitchin. It provides a valuable link between Cambridge and London, accommodating the generally half-hourly Cambridge – London fast service, one of which each hour starts from King’s Lynn. ... In the early mornings and evenings, Letchworth and Royston are often served by longer-distance outer suburban services between King’s Cross and King’s Lynn [Page 15]." Page 18 includes proposed overhead line and gauging works "to accommodate operation of IEP [Intercity Express programme, see news item below, dated Wednesday 15 April 2014] rolling stock." Pages 11-14 cover section SRS G03 - Hertford Loop, which provides a diversionary route for Kings Lynn-Kings Cross trains on occasions.

The accompanying Network Specification 2017: London North Eastern and East Midlands document itemises [page 6]: "a half hourly King’s Cross to Cambridge fast service, one of which, extends each hour through to King’s Lynn. In terms of operational characteristics and passenger profile, this service is more akin to a LDHS [long distance high speed] service." [Please note that from Monday 22 May 2017, those fast King's Cross-Cambridge trains which do not currently run to King's Lynn will be extended to Ely, as a first step towards delivering the committed half-hourly King's Cross-King's Lynn service].

Tuesday 18 April 2017 - "How will Crossrail 2 benefit residents in Cambridgeshire? Cambridgeshire County Council and Cambridge City Council have called on the Government to back the rail project" writes Tom Pilgrim in the Cambridge News. He says: "Cambridgeshire County Council and Cambridge City Council have urged the Government to give the Crossrail 2 scheme its 'full backing' to boost the region. The councils signed a joint letter with seven other local authorities in the South East and London Councils, which represents the capital's 32 borough councils and the City of London, which has been sent to the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, and Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling. ... Still in the development phase, the £31.2billion scheme is not expected to be completed until the early to mid-2030s ... Network Rail has forecasted demand on the West Anglia railway to increase by 39 per cent by 2043. In the 10 years to 2011 an additional 100,000 rail commuters started travelling on its routes." The West Anglia Taskforce has "argued that the early expansion to a four track rail layout between Tottenham Hale and Broxbourne by 2026 would enable additional fast services between Cambridge and Liverpool Street." The newspaper reports that "the Cambridge Biomedical Campus is predicted to employ close to 30,000 people making it one of the largest biomedical sites in the world, while Stansted Airport has the potential to provide an additional 10,000 jobs by 2030 [.... the Taskforce has] has backed proposals to build a new station at Cambridge South to service the Cambridge Biomedical Campus and Addenbrooke’s Hospital."

Tuesday 18 April 2017 - We wrote to Greater Anglia and Great Northern on the subject of fares to Cambridge North. We said: "National Rail Enquiries is now showing train services and connections to/from the new Cambridge North station. Journeys from/to King’s Lynn, Watlington, Downham Market, Littleport and Waterbeach cannot be made (except for a few early morning/late evening times) without changing trains, either at Ely or at Cambridge. In the latter case (National Rail Enquiries routes passengers via Cambridge in many instances) the passenger is required to travel through Cambridge North without stopping and double back from Cambridge station. Can you please confirm that such doubling back will be allowed on all types of tickets?"

We are very grateful to Great Northern for the following reply: "Cambridge and Cambridge North tickets will be interchangeable until such time when capacity issues have been resolved. Our fares team have also agreed with their counterparts at GA [Greater Anglia] that this will be briefed to station, revenue and any on-board staff. We will also brief our staff internally of these arrangements."

Thursday 13 April 2017 - "It's time to stop dicing with death" is the front page story of today's Cambridge News. The print edition of the newspaper gives a full page over to the "shock rise in dangerous trespass on rail tracks" and directs readers to www.networkrail.co.uk/trespass. Tom Pilgrim's article about Fen Line services to the new Cambridge North station being very restricted, due to King's Lynn to Cambridge services already being very busy (see news item of today's date, immediately below) forms the first part of a double-page spread on railways [pages 4 and 5] and is headlined "Limited village links to new station."

Thursday 13 April 2017 - Network Rail publishes its Freight Network Study (FNS), which identifies infrastructure works at Ely on the Felixstowe to West Midlands & the North corridor as a short term option capacity for funders. Page 64 states: "One of the most significant capacity constraints on the cross-country route is the Ely area. Projects required include Ely North Junction, Ely level crossings, Ely to Soham doubling and Ely area weak bridges. Due to land restrictions and ground conditions, the projects have a high degree of complexity, specifically the Ely area level crossings works." Page 92 shows the "Core freight network corridors and priorities for short term intervention"; page 93 identifies work at Ely as a short term capacity option, page 94 identifies the cross-country freight route as a short term gauging option for funders. As part of the Anglia Speed project, NR [Page 128] identifies "increased speeds for HAW [Heavy Axle Weight] vehicles between Cambridge and King's Lynn." NR reports [Page 105] in respect of the Felixstowe to the West Midlands and the North freight corridor, on which Ely lies, that the "final version of the FNS puts more emphasis on the national significance of this corridor, and articulates that it represents the highest priority for short-term rail freight investment."

Thursday 13 April 2017 - "Great Northern has responded to concerns there are not enough planned services to Cambridge North - Train times published on the National Rail enquiries show barely any direct trains between Waterbeach and Cambridge North." That's the headline of Tom Pilgrim's story in the Cambridge News. He continues: "Commuters using Waterbeach station in Cambridgeshire will have to wait years for regular connections to the new Cambridge North station. ... A spokeswoman for the operator explained that services stopping at both Cambridge North and Waterbeach were restricted by overcrowding and infrastructure pressures. She said: 'There will be a few trains calling at both Waterbeach and Cambridge North, however this is due to King’s Lynn to Cambridge services calling at all stations including Waterbeach already being very busy. We are acutely aware of the high demand of the current services and have added in additional Ely services calling at Cambridge North or starting at the station to manage this demand and take the pressure off the King’s Lynn to Cambridge services. From December 2018, we will be able to offer more direct services between Waterbeach and Cambridge North, once Network Rail have carried out the platform extension upgrades between King’s Lynn and Cambridge, allowing eight-car trains to call at Waterbeach station.'"

The Cambridge News article, which gives details of publication dates for the publication of both Great Northern and Greater Anglia timetables, also quotes a Network Rail spokesperson, who told the newspaper: "We know that overcrowding on the King's Lynn services, particularly in the peak is an issue. That's why we're currently developing a scheme, in close collaboration with the operator, to lengthen the platforms to allow eight car trains to run. We have no confirmed timescales for delivery of that project as yet, but we'd hope to do it by the end of 2019."

The Association is concerned about the level of service from all Fen Line stations - Kings Lynn, Watlington, Downham Market, Littleport, Ely and Waterbeach to Cambridge North; we note that there will be additional services from Ely which will serve the new Cambridge North station. In our document 'Linking homes and jobs needs more and longer trains' we call for:

Stopping where the jobs are - Make all Fen Line trains call at Cambridge North from May 2017 and speed up a Cambridge Biomedical Campus station (Cambridge South).

Dealing with the crowds - Run 8-car Kings Lynn-Kings Cross trains (maintaining existing stopping patterns where appropriate) in the morning and evening peaks (i.e. in both the London peaks and the Cambridge peaks) ASAP.

Removing those remaining fragile connections at Cambridge by running all our trains direct to King’s Cross. Fill the big gap in the afternoon high peak at Cambridge with a King’s Lynn train leaving Cambridge about 1710-1715 and extend the 1714 King’s Cross-Ely to King’s Lynn.

Current details of Network Rail's Kings Lynn– Cambridge 8-car scheme are published on page 34 [of 197] in the March 2017 issue of NR's Enhancement Delivery Plan. See also news item below, dated Friday 7 April 2017 for other relevant Network Rail enhancement schemes. The proposed Network Rail (Cambridgeshire) Level Crossing Reduction Order (see news item, dated Monday 10 April 2017, immediately below) has, in part, a direct relationship with the introduction of Kings Lynn-Cambridge-Kings Cross 8-car trains; we have set out in that news item details of the practical support we are giving towards the earliest implementation of measures needed to allow longer trains on our increasingly successful, but more and more overcrowded, commuter route.

Wednesday 12 April 2017 - Network Rail responds to Rupert Moss-Eccardt's request for an internal review of the handling of his FOI request "Queen Adelaide B1382 Level Crossings Risk Assessment" (see news item below, dated Tuesday 14 February 2017) by releasing redacted "Narrative Risk Assessments" of the three Queen Adelaide level crossings, including that for the Queen Adelaide (Kings Lynn) AHB level crossing. NR stresses: "the Narrative Risk Assessments for each of the three crossings [...] are distinct from those risk assessments undertaken in respect of the renewal options." The latter have not been released.

Monday 10 April 2017 - We have today written to the Secretary of State for Transport with a Representation of Support in the matter of the proposed Network Rail (Cambridgeshire) Level Crossing Reduction Order. We note that level crossings are now the biggest safety hazard to rail users; as well as the safety of passengers and train drivers being put at risk, the inevitable hold-ups following an incident cause delays to passengers, including large numbers travelling to/from work and for business in Cambridge and London. In some circumstances, the necessary withdrawal of a damaged train can (and has) lead to rolling stock shortages which result in numerous service cancellations for lengthy periods.

In our Representation, we state: "the Association SUPPORTS Network Rail's plans for the closure/alteration of the following 14 crossings on the King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross route: C35 Ballast Pit, C28 Black Horse Drove, C01 Chittering, C25 Clayway [Littleport], C24 Cross Keys, C34 Fysons, C33 Jack O'Tell (Adam's Crossing), C31 Littleport station (footpath level crossing), C02 Nairn's No 117, C04 No 20 [Meldreth], C07 No 37 [Harston], C26 Poplar Drove, C03 West River Bridge, and C27 Willow Row/Willow Road."

The C31 Littleport station pedestrian crossing is of great concern to us, in so much as the danger it poses to rail users (229,628 passengers p.a. source: ORR 2015/6 estimate) by virtue of the bends at both ends of the station, which can hide fast passenger and freight trains not stopping there and running at up to 75mph). Given that the proposal at C31 Littleport station would also greatly help in accommodating platform lengthening works currently being considered as part of Network Rail's Cambridge-King's Lynn 8-car scheme (designed to tackle urgent passenger overcrowding issues during peak times), we ask that the implementation of the level crossing proposal for C31 Littleport station be given high priority by Network Rail. We also: "REQUEST the Secretary of State to impose a CONDITION that the flooding/puddling issue in the Littleport station underpass is satisfactorily dealt with. It should be noted that this detailed request does NOT change our stance of SUPPORT for the Order."

Saturday 8 April 2017 - "Don’t dual the A10, invest in rail instead" argues Edward Leigh in the Cambridge Independent. He opines: "Outline planning consent is being sought for 6,500 new homes on the site of Waterbeach Barracks, right next to the A10. And the Local Plan envisages a further 12,500 homes being added later. Add this to the 18,000 vehicles/day that already use the A10 and it’s easy to see why dualling looks like the answer. But ... feeding twice as many vehicles into the network would just mean twice as many cars tail back along the A10 past Milton." Mr Leigh, who writes on behalf of 'Smarter Cambridge Transport' says: "Fortunately there’s another transport option: the railway line that runs close to the A10 offers fast and reliable journey times to Cambridge, Stansted Airport and London," and lists the priorities he suggests: "Fixing Ely North rail junction is the first priority. That will enable more passenger and freight trains to run, relieving pressure on the A14 as well as the A10. Secondly, improve access to the railway at Waterbeach by building a new station to the north, with longer platforms, a small car park and protected cycle/walking links to the village, Waterbeach Barracks and Cambridge Research Park. A shuttle bus, connecting with trains, could serve all three of those and Landbeach."

Saturday 8 April 2017 - "'An absolute joke!' Commuters react to new Cambridge North Timetable - National Rail Enquiries is showing the timings of trains stopping at the station’s three platforms on its online journey planner" writes Tara Cox in today's Cambridge News. She continues: "Rail users have responded with anger and frustration to news of the possible new timetable for Cambridge North Station – with one commuter claiming the new station is ‘an absolute joke’. On the [Cambridge] News’ Facebook page , Andrew Boylett wrote: 'An absolute joke. Direct services to London limited, and a perfect opportunity to run earlier services for shift workers that they completely ignored.' Al Storer wrote: 'There's loads of direct trains from Cambridge North to Kings Cross, Monday-Saturday. What there aren't, are any Waterbeach to Cambridge North trains, as (at peak times) the Waterbeach to Cambridge section is massively overcrowded already and until Waterbeach station is extended it can't have longer trains.'” The article points out that: "From May 21 passengers in the north of the city will be able to hop on a train direct to London, Ely and King’s Lynn, as well as to the existing Cambridge station south of the river. ... Direct trains to King’s Lynn are scheduled to take 44 minutes, although the more frequent routes will be via Cambridge Station." [It is not clear yet whether those journeys to Cambridge North from King's Lynn, Watlington, Downham Market, Littleport and Waterbeach which National Rail Enquiries advises users to make via the existing Cambridge station and then double back to Cambridge North will be valid under the ticket rules].

Friday 7 April 2017 - Adam Care asks in today's Cambridge News: "What time can I catch a train from Cambridge North Station? Timetable published (but you can't book any fares yet) - Timings are now public for trains from the city's newest station to Ely, King's Lynn and Cambridge Station." He says: "The £50 million station is on track for an official opening date of May 21, but budding trainspotters can already get excited, with the first parts of its future timetable now available online. While there is still no fare information available, National Rail Enquiries is showing the timings of trains stopping at the station’s three platforms on its online journey planner." The article reports that: "The new station is just 13 minutes away from Ely, with the first direct train leaving at 6.19am on Monday May 22, and the last one at 00.14 on the Tuesday morning."

Friday 7 April 2017 - Network Rail publishes its CP5 Enhancements Delivery Plan: Update March 2017. Projects include: Thameslink (page 7), Ely North Junction Capacity Improvement (page 27), Anglia Traction Power Supply Upgrade (page 28), Kings Lynn-Cambridge 8-car (page 34), Intercity Express Programme (IEP) - East Coast Capability (page 61), Intercity Express Programme (IEP) - East Coast Power Supply Upgrade (page 63), ECML Traction Power Supply Upgrade (page 65), Gordon Hill Turnback (page 66), Stevenage Turnback (page 67), East Coast Connectivity Fund (page 141), Cambridge North New Station (page 164) and Ely to Soham Doubling (page 170).

Thursday 6 April 2017 - " First trains call at Cambridge North Station" reports Tom Pilgrim in the Cambridge News, "Testing of passenger trains has begun at Cambridge's newest station ahead of its opening at the end of May. An eight car class 317 train was the first to stop as planned at platform 3." His article includes photographs of the new station, which is due to open on Sunday 21 May, and says: "It will handle an estimated 3,000 passengers a day and have parking space for 450 cars and 1,000 bicycles as well as a taxi rank." [Times are now available on National Rail Enquiries - use station code CMB. We are pressing for all Fen Line trains to stop at Cambridge North].

Tuesday 4 April 2017 - New Trains for Greater Anglia is the title of a presentation by Jonathan Denby of Greater Anglia to the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce Transport and Infrastructure Board today. Pages 7 to 19 cover the Bombardier Aventra train, which will be used on West Anglia routes to/from Liverpool Street. Page 37 illustrates the proposals for a depot at Coldhams Lane, Cambridge designed to stable 5 full length Aventra units. Network Rail also updates the Board on various projects, including an Ely Area Capacity Enhancement *update*.

Tuesday 4 April 2017 - GTR launches issue no 6 of its twice-yearly report to customers, 'Connections'. This contains information about Great Northern, Thameslink, Gatwick Express and Southern. Reporting on progress with its commitments, the company says: "Deadline May 2017 - King’s Lynn service half hourly (once upgraded infrastructure in place) - Great Northern - Half hourly service to Ely for most of day from 21 May. Infrastructure work still required for Kings Lynn half hourly." [Pages 22 and 23]. GTR has also launched a new website for Great Northern, which operates King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross services - timetables here. Under the heading 'New trains and more regular services - We’re investing in new trains, extra carriages and more services0 the Great Northern 'Improvements factsheet' states: "King’s Cross to King’s Lynn: two trains per hour from the end of 2018." [The original franchise commitment was for the 'half-hourly' King's Cross-King's Lynn services to operate from May 2017 - the Government's Train Service Requirements dated December 2015 (pages 362-365 of 397) refer].

Monday 3 April 2017 - Greater Anglia publishes "Transforming your railway with new trains" showing artists' impressions of how its brand new trains, due to be introduced during 2019/20, could look. GA says: "All trains will come complete with free high-quality Wi-Fi, at-seat plug and USB points, air conditioning and state-of-the-art passenger information screens" and the company is inviting views and suggestions from interested persons. [Greater Anglia operates the Cambridge-Ely-Norwich service and the peak times only Liverpool Street-Cambridge-Ely/King's Lynn services, as well as most other services in East Anglia. The King's Cross-Cambridge-Ely-King's Lynn route is operated by Great Northern. 'Regional carriages' will operate on GA's Cambridge-Ely-Norwich services and 'Bombardier Aventra trains' - these have 3+2 seating, will operate GA's Liverpool Street-Cambridge-Ely/King's Lynn services].

Friday 31 March 2017 - "Funding prompts rail upgrade study" reports 'yourlocalpaper'. The newspaper says: "A major feasibility study into rail improvements for the area can now be undertaken after £8.8 million of funding was pledged. The study will provide options to increase rail capacity for freight an d passenger services through the Ely area - affecting the King's Lynn to King's Cross service." Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP Chairman Mark Reeve told 'yourlocalpaper': Work to improve the Ely North junction is critical for unlocking economic growth not only across the LEP area, but across the whole of the East." South West Norfolk MP and Cabinet Minister Elizabeth Truss is reported as adding: "Work can start on developing the scheme in a couple of weeks and will take 24 months to complete."

Thursday 30 March 2017 - "First £40 million of £800 million received, but how will new combined authority improve your life?" asks Josh Thomas in the Cambridge News, continuing: "The documents have been signed and the first tranche of an £800 million devolution deal has been put in place. But where will this money go and how will it benefit you?" His article sets out various issues the soon-to-be-elected Mayor and the new Combined Authority will be dealing with. He writes: "The authority will look at transport infrastructure improvements... such as ... upgrades to the A10 and the A47, and the Ely North Junction. ... Rail improvements, including a new station at Soham, (new rolling stock, improved links from King’s Lynn to Cambridge and London) will [also] be on the agenda."

Tuesday 28 March 2017 - We have today added the presentation material produced by GTR for the Stakeholders Forum held on Tuesday 21 March 2017. This is to be found in the Members' Section.

Friday 24 March 2017 - "'At the front of the queue’: Improvement plans at Ely North junction move forward with £8.8m LEP investment" writes Seb Pearce in the Wisbech Standard. He continues: "A groundbreaking agreement which could see work to ease congestion at the bottlenecked Ely North junction move forward by five years has taken a significant step forward thanks to an £8.8 million funding boost. ... The study, carried out by Network Rail, will provide options for funders to increase rail capacity and provide improvements for both freight and passenger services from King’s Cross to King’s Lynn, Ipswich to Peterborough and Felixstowe to Nuneaton and beyond." Neil Darwin, chief executive of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP, tells the Wisbech Standard: “This is very much preparatory work to ensure that when the next control period – which is run by Network Rail – comes through, we are at the front of the queue for the significant funding we need for the work to happen. It’s an important day in actually making sure we position this going forward.” The paper reports: "The funding was initially announced when Justice Secretary Ms Truss chaired a rail summit meeting at Downham Market town hall in January. There Network Rail announced their hopes to increase the number of trains going through the junction from six to 11 an hour. Other planned improvements include eight-carriage trains, platform expansions and level-crossing assessments."

Friday 24 March 2017 - "West Norfolk rail services boost" reports radio station KLFM96.7. "Plans to improve rail services from West Norfolk have moved a step forward. ... If [Ely is] upgraded it will allow longer and more frequent services from King's Lynn to London. The Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP and New Anglia LEP are funding a feasibility study -which will be carried out by Network Rail. It will provide options to increase rail capacity and provide improvements for both freight and passenger services from King’s Cross to King’s Lynn."

Friday 24 March 2017 - "Vital Ely Rail Project on Track" is the heading of a news statement issued by the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership today.

Friday 24 March 2017 - "Improvement plans at Ely North move forward with £8.8m LEP investment" reports Rail Technology Magazine. "The rail network in East Cambridgeshire is set to receive a £8.8m cash injection from two Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) in the area who will fund studies into improving services in the region, including at Ely North Junction. Network Rail will carry out the studies, which will outline plans to increase rail capacity and upgrades to rail and freight services from King’s Cross to King’s Lynn, Ipswich to Peterborough and Felixstowe to Nuneaton. Of the total investment, £3.3m will be provided by the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP and New Anglia LEP each to fund the work, whilst the Strategic Freight Network will contribute £2.2m for the proposed works." South West Norfolk Liz Truss MP, who has campaigned for upgrades to Ely North Junction since 2015, tells the magazine that "she was 'delighted' that funding had been confirmed by the LEPs for preparatory work on the Ely North junction and its adjacent roads and level crossings." She says: "This is a project I first raised with the Department for Transport in 2011, meeting rail ministers as well as lobbying the transport secretary on the significant benefits of upgrading the rail junction ... During the past two years, I have held rail summits pressing for all parties to work together so that a clear understanding of what will be needed in terms of costs and design can be produced” Truss explained.” Rail Technology Magazine adds: "The justice secretary also gave credit to the local councils, Network Rail as well as the LEPs and rail companies along with the Department for Transport who had engaged so successfully with the task," quoting her as saying: “Meeting every month under the Chairmanship of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council leader Ray Harding, they ensured the scheme remained on track with all necessary expenses fully accounted for ... This is a key infrastructure project in the east that will provide a fantastic boost not only to the economy of South West Norfolk but the wider region as well. Work can start on developing the scheme in a couple of weeks and will take 24 months to complete. This will then place the Ely Area Enhancement Project at the front of the queue for the next round of government funding.” Richard Schofield, route managing director for NR’s Anglia route tells the magazine that "the news was a 'fantastic example of the power of local decision making and devolution'".

Friday 24 March 2017 - "More than £8m agreed to fund Ely North Junction improvements. The Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and the New Anglia LEP have agreed to chip in £3.3m each towards technical and feasibility work into improvements around the Ely north junction. The study, [to be] carried out by Network Rail, will provide options for funders to increase rail capacity and provide improvements for both freight and passenger services from King’s Cross to King’s Lynn, Ipswich to Peterborough and Felixstowe to Nuneaton and beyond" writes Chris Bishop in the Eastern Daily Press. The paper says: "Campaigners say that it will unlock a significant barrier to economic growth in the region, by allowing more freight and passenger services to run on key routes. The LEPs were approached for funding following the government’s decision to defer work on additional capacity through Ely in 2015", and adds: "A further £2.2m will be contributed towards the project by the government’s Strategic Freight Network, which funds improvements to services." The EDP reports that "The £8m investment will also fund a business case, to demonstrate the value of investment by government and other potential funders."

Friday 24 March 2017 - Covering today's news of the funding for the necessary Ely Area upgrade, the Cambridge News reports: "Railways in East Cambridgeshire are set to benefit from an £8.8 million cash injection - improving services through Ely. The project, the first of its kind in the UK, will see both the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and New Anglia LEP fund new rail studies into the region, including Ely North Junction." South East Cambridgeshire MP and Lucy Frazer member of the Ely Area Taskforce says: “I am delighted that the LEPs have come together to support funding to help progress the development of Ely junction to increase the train capacity for both passengers and freight." South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss adds: “I am delighted that funding has now been confirmed by the LEPs for the preparatory work on the Ely North rail junction along with the adjacent roads and level crossings. During the past two years, I have held rail summits pressing for all parties to work together so that a clear understanding of what will be needed in terms of costs and design can be produced." Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP chairman Mark Reeve tells the Cambridge News: “Work to improve the Ely North Junction is critical for unlocking economic growth across not only the LEP area, but across the whole of the East. By working together with New Anglia LEP and Network Rail we are meeting the Government’s challenge to fund feasibility work locally to accelerate the delivery of this scheme.”

Friday 24 March 2017 - "Faster rail links to and from East Cambridgeshire to bring 'significant economic growth' - Ely's long awaited rail improvements are now on track to boost the local economy" writes Anna Savva in the Ely Standard. The newspaper says: "Railways in East Cambridgeshire are set to benefit from an £8.8 million cash injection - improving services through Ely. The project, the first of its kind in the UK, will see both the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and New Anglia LEP fund new rail studies into the region, including Ely North Junction. Network Rail will carry out the work to outline plans for increasing rail capacity and improvements for freight and passenger services from King’s Cross to King’s Lynn, Ipswich to Peterborough and Felixstowe to Nuneaton."

Wednesday 22 March 2017 - The New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership meets today to consider the Ely Capacity Enhancement Scheme (item 7).

Tuesday 21 March - A presentation given to the Thameslink Programme Stakeholder Reference Group today contains background information about the deployment dates of GTR's new train fleets and other background information.

Thursday 16 March 2017 - The government publishes the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough devolution deal, "giving Cambridgeshire and Peterborough greater control over transport,..." The text of the Devolution Deal states the following: "Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is a world leader in science and technology, with unparalleled levels of cutting edge research, growth businesses and highly skilled jobs. The area is already a significant net contributor to the UK economy ... Providing world class connectivity and transport systems, fit for the 21st Century – that connects passengers and freight between Cambridge, Peterborough, our network of market towns and the rest of the country [Page 3]. ... 26. … We recognise that Ely North Junction scheme area capacity improvements provide a key opportunity to open up East Anglia and deliver significant economic value and improve connectivity. Government will work with local stakeholders and Network Rail to deliver the required upgrade commencing work in Control Period 6 (2019-24) [Pages 10/11]. ... 31. In order to maximise the important connections Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has in all directions, and its position as a cross roads of Eastern England, Government commits to work towards replacing rolling stock as part of the new Greater Anglia franchise. Government also commits to assist the West Anglia Main Line Task Force as it develops a business case for improving the rail corridor between Kings Lynn and London via Cambridge. The Combined Authority will make the case for improvements to the Thameslink Great Northern Franchise, … Page 12]."

Tuesday 14 March 2017 - "I have pulled together a programme board to really move things forward with a new train station at Addenbrooke’s hospital" writes South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen on her website.

Tuesday 14 March 2017 - Network Rail issues a news release about its proposals for level crossing modifications and closures across Cambridgeshire (see news item below, dated Wednesday 8 March 2017). NR sets out how Objections, representations and letters of support can be made to the Secretary of State for Transport, pointing out that these must be received by Tuesday 25 April 2017. The Association will be making representations of support in respect of proposals which directly affect Kings Lynn-Kings Cross services (see news items below, dated Wednesday 7 December 2016 and Monday 19 September 2016).

Tuesday 14 March 2017 - the Railway Heritage Trust issues an update on Downham Market station, which is being repainted in Network SouthEast colours. Photographer David McDonald has published a set of photographs of Downham Market station here [these show the subsequently installed Network SouthEast signs].

Friday 10 March 2017 - Anna Savva writes in the Cambridge News: "How £36 million Ely bypass will help ease congestion as work begins. A sod cutting ceremony marked the start of work on Ely Southern bypass yesterday [Thursday] afternoon.... Alongside contractors VolkerFitzpatrick, the event was attended, by representatives from Cambridgeshire County Council, East Cambridgeshire District Council, Network Rail, the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and MP Lucy Frazer. Set to open in spring 2018, the road has been designed to alleviate a congestion blighted area of the city which currently grid-locks Ely and will include two new bridges to cross the River Ouse and its flood plain, as well as additional railway lines." The newspaper reports: "Once complete it is projected the road will reduce journey times between A10 and Stuntney Causeway by up to 56 per cent for drivers. It will also reduce delays for motorists leaving Ely station by 50 per cent during rush hour." Richard Schofield, Network Rail's Managing Director, Anglia Route, says: "The work on the Ely bypass will make a huge difference to the way people travel in this area. It will enable us to remove a level crossing at the station, which is the first step to changing the way trains travel through the constrained Ely area as we continue to improve the railway as part of our Railway Upgrade Plan."

Friday 10 March 2017 - Network Rail replies to Rupert Moss-Eccardt regarding his request for an Internal Review into his Freedom of Information Request concerning "Queen Adelaide Survey Procurement Support Documentation." (See news item below, dated Sunday 15 January 2017). NR concludes: "... the public interest favours maintaining the exception, and that the requested information should be withheld at this time." We note that NR's reply contains the following background information: "the specific policy in development is the proposed Ely Area Capacity Enhancement scheme, which is intended to address a number of existing constraints on rail capacity in the Ely area. Included in the scope of the scheme are headway reductions, the doubling of Ely North Junction, track layout changes at Ely, bridge strengthening and level crossings. The Queen Adelaide level crossings are a fundamental constraint on freight and passenger capacity, as well as journey time, over the cross-country corridor via Ely between Norwich, Ipswich and Peterborough, and the West Anglia Main Line for services from Liverpool Street station and Kings Cross. The Queen Adelaide crossings therefore form one of a number of interdependent elements within this wider scheme. ... information pertaining to the Queen Adelaide crossings cannot only be evaluated in a local context – in terms of impact on local residents – but also needs to be considered in terms of the crossings’ wider fundamental role in facilitating socio-economic growth in the Anglia region, and ultimately enabling an increase in both freight and passenger capacity in the Anglia Route."

Thursday 9 March 2017 - The inauguration of construction of the Ely Southern Bypass today was marked by the Ely Standard, which reports: "The new £36 million road, which is expected to be completed by spring 2018, aims to reduce journey times for drivers between the A10 and Stuntney Causeway by up to 56 per cent, and it is hoped to slice delays around the city’s rail station in half."

Monday 6 March 2017 - "Three local politicians join forces to push for upgrade to Ely North rail junction" writes Kath Sansom in the Ely Standard. "Elizabeth Truss MP joined Lucy Frazer MP and Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayoral candidate, Councillor James Palmer, at Ely Railway station. Ms Truss has been pressing for the upgrade of the rail junction to take place as quickly as possible. Elizabeth said: 'Significant progress has been made and we are now ready to secure funding to develop the scheme. The LEPs have in principle agreed this money. It will take two years to get the preparatory work done but it means that we will be at the front of the queue in the government’s next spending round. This is a key rail intersection in the eastern region, serving many freight and passenger routes. Once it is upgraded it will allow for a half hourly service on the Fen Line, improved services on the Thetford route, and will enable increased movement of the high value freight trains. The benefits to the economy have been calculated in excess of £0.5 billion so I am delighted that the mayoral candidate, Cllr James Palmer, is joining local MPs in pressing for the scheme to be started as soon as possible.’" The newspaper continues: "In a letter to the Greater Cambridgeshire and Peterborough LEP and New Anglia LEP, Ms Truss has urged that funding be agreed as soon as possible so that work on the scoping study for the junction and surrounding roads can begin."

Sunday 5 March 2017 - We have produced a document showing 'Fen Line - May 2017 EXPECTED passenger timings' which includes stops at the new Cambridge North station. We have also produced 'Fen Line peak journeys to/from London and Cambridge - our requests.' Both these documents are in the Members' section. These matters will be discussed in The Fenman issue 1/2017; this is expected to be sent to Association members in mid to late March.

Friday 3 March 2017 - Ben Comber reports: "Push to get Cambridge North station services to Peterborough and Stansted" in the Cambridge Independent. He writes: Timetables will next be reviewed in December 2017. ... The following services will be stopping at Cambridge North from May 2017: * Greater Anglia: Norwich to Cambridge (hourly) *Greater Anglia: London Liverpool Street to Cambridge North (hourly) *Great Northern: King’s Cross to Ely (hourly) *Great Northern: King’s Cross to Cambridge North (hourly). The King’s Lynn 8-car scheme currently under development will allow for additional services because, at present, King’s Lynn services are too overloaded to accommodate extra passengers at Cambridge North during peak hours."

Thursday 2 March 2017 - Cambridge City Council's North Area Committee receives progress reports from Network Rail and Greater Anglia - a YouTube video of the meeting can be found here.

Thursday 2 March 2017 - "MP joins forces with City Council chief to campaign to connect new railway station" reports Cambridge Network. "Daniel Zeichner MP has joined forces with Cllr Lewis Herbert, Labour Leader of Cambridge City Council, to campaign for the Cross Country service between Peterborough and Stansted to stop at the new Cambridge North railway station." Daniel Zeichner says: “ Once the railway timetable is reviewed again in December 2017, I will be pressing the Government to realise Cambridge North’s potential as a strategic hub for the benefit of both our city and the sub-region.” Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of Cambridge City Council says: “The opening of Cambridge North station is a massive bonus for local residents and workers based in north Cambridge but we need a continuing increase in the trains stopping there and I will be working with Daniel, the City Deal and the new incoming Mayor to persuade Cross Country and other train operating companies. One of our core aims from devolution is sharing Cambridge’s prosperity with our wider sub-region and that includes making it far easier for key workers to travel to and from Cambridge by train from affordable housing near rail stations across Cambridgeshire and beyond."

The Cambridge Network reports: "The following services will be stopping at Cambridge North from May 2017:

"Greater Anglia: Norwich to Cambridge (hourly)

"Greater Anglia: London Liverpool Street to Cambridge North (hourly)

"Great Northern: King’s Cross to Ely (hourly)

"Great Northern: King’s Cross to Cambridge North (hourly)

"The King’s Lynn 8-car scheme currently under development will allow for additional services because, at present, King’s Lynn services are too overloaded to accommodate extra passengers at Cambridge North during peak hours."

The new Cambridge North station will be discussed in The Fenman issue 1/2017; this is expected to be sent to Association members in mid to late March.

Thursday 2 March 2017 - Tom Pilgrim reports "calls for Peterborough and Stansted Airport trains to call at Cambridge North" in the Cambridge News. [The Association understands that the timetable for when the station opens is an initial service and that King's Lynn-King's Cross services cannot stop there until the Cambridge-King's Lynn 8-car scheme (train lengthening) is completed as these trains are already too overcrowded. We call for the earliest implementation of this scheme].

Wednesday 1 March 2017 - East Cambridgeshire District Council approves planning application 16/01729/F3M for "extension and improvements to Littleport station car park" with conditions. The formal decision notice and the report considered by the Planning Committee are on the District's Council's website [See news item dated Tuesday 21 February 2017 below].

Wednesday 1 March 2017 - The New Anglia Local Transport Body meets today and considers a report on "Ely Area Capacity Enhancement Scheme Business Case Approval (item 3). The report recommends that: "... that the Local Transport Body recommends to the LEP Board to approve a contribution of £3.3million for Network Rail to complete an outline business case (feasibility study) for the Ely Area Enhancement Scheme...."

Monday 27 February 2017 - The Secretary of State for Defence and Urban&Civic Plc have submitted an outline planning application for up to 6,500 dwellings and associated 'new town' facilities at Waterbeach, ref.S/0559/17/OL, sited on the former barracks and airfield. A six-week public consultation on the plans has been launched today by South Cambridgeshire District Council. The District Council has produced broad summaries of what is proposed and of details of public exhibitions and consultation opportunities here and here. The Application Guide may be considered a useful starting point for studying the extensive proposals. The Cambridge News quotes Urban&Civic's Chief Executive Nigel Hugill as saying: "Outside London, Waterbeach is the best brownfield site in the country. Three miles from the Cambridge Science Park with some of the most dynamic employment in the world, Waterbeach can help meet a demonstrable shortage of accessible accommodation in the north of the city, both from an expanding workforce and local residents who have lived here for generations. We've always been clear that this isn't a new town. It's part of Waterbeach" and reports that: "With a population of just over 5,000, residents of the village [Waterbeach] could see this more than treble if the new development becomes fully occupied." Urban&Civic's 'Waterbeach Barracks' website can be found here.

A new town at Waterbeach would have considerable implications for rail services. Chapter 9 - Transport of the Environmental Statement states the following:

"The village of Waterbeach currently benefits from a railway station located to the southeast of the village. The station is located on the King’s Lynn to London King’s Cross line, approximately 1.4km to the south-east of the site (or 1.2km as the crow flies)[Paragraph 9.5.15].

"Waterbeach Station is a relatively short walk from the village centre. It is approximately a 15-inute walk from the Barracks [Paragraph 9.5.16].

"Journey times from Waterbeach to Cambridge are 6-9 minutes. Great Northern services to London King’s Cross can complete the journey in 59 minutes but a more typical journey time is 63-65 minutes – longer in the peak times and evenings. Greater Anglia services to London Liverpool Street are much slower at 84-99 minutes [Paragraph 9.5.27].

"The [transport] schemes that will have most impact of the Application Site include: ... Cambridge North Station, ... Train lengthening Cambridge to Kings Lynn ... [Paragraph 9.3.29].

"... during the first five years the Applicants are keen to implement early phases of development alongside deliverable non-strategic sustainable led infrastructure, with strategic interventions following, during the longer term. ... 1,600 dwellings [is] the threshold [following which] strategic interventions are required. ... non strategic interventions [i.e. shorter-term measures, include] ... Improvements at Existing Waterbeach Station including longer platforms [Paragraph 9.7.6].

"The proposed development construction is anticipated to take approximately 20 years and therefore be [fully] complete by 2037 at the earliest [Paragraph 9.24].

"... development of the remainder of the [growth] allocation at Waterbeach (the land to the east of the application site / between the development and the railway) has been considered ... to understand the likely cumulative impact. This represents the remainder of the Local Plan allocation of housing at Waterbeach and the cumulative impact has been undertaken on the basis of a further 3,500 dwellings being constructed [Paragraph 9.9.3].

"... a relocated station at Waterbeach on land controlled by RLW [in the longer-term and the additional land referred to in paragraph 9.9.3] is assumed and will provide benefit to significant growth at Waterbeach.[Paragraph 9.7.17]."

Part 11 of the Transport Assessment (in particular Section 5.4) and Part 32 of the Transport Assessment (in particular Section 11.5) contain much useful rail-related information.

The above is not a full summary of the very extensive planning application documentation. The potential Waterbeach new town will be discussed in The Fenman issue 1/2017; this is expected to be sent to Association members in mid to late March.

Tuesday 14 February 2017 - "Cambridge North Station creates a new gateway to Cambridge and its northern fringes. The development is expected to serve over 3,000 passengers per day, and is seen as a key piece of Cambridgeshire's transport infrastructure. ... [it will] open up access to Cambridge Science Park and several major new developments to the north of Cambridge. ... We've ensured that the passenger route through Cambridge North is clear and direct with constant views of the passenger destination, " says Quentin Doyle, Senior Architectural Designer at design, engineering and project management firm Atkins. Mr Doyle's article, 'Designed for Cambridge', is in an Atkins report 'The Value of Stations' published today.

Tuesday 14 February 2017 - Mr Moss-Eccardt replies to Network Rail, asking: "Am I correct in interpreting your response to understand that there are no suitable and sufficient risk assessments current for the crossings in question? Please note that your reply may have significant implications." He also requests an internal review of the handling of his FOI request "Queen Adelaide B1382 Level Crossings Risk Assessment." Network Rail must respond no later than Wednesday 12 April 2017.

Tuesday 14 February 2017 - Network Rail replies to Rupert Moss-Eccardt's Freedom of Information request concerning level crossings at Queen Adelaide in the vicinity of Ely North Junction, saying, inter alia,: "Since the start of 2015, risk assessments were carried out in November 2015 for the crossings in Queen Adelaide. These were the only risk assessments prepared for the crossings in this timeframe. The assessments include information from the traffic censuses. We also hold a gap analysis summary note and a phase 2 gap analysis report. Following searches, we have been unable to locate a traffic flow analysis technical note or a scheme sketch; I understand that design work was not progressed far enough to require a scheme sketch. ... I can advise you that funding has recently been agreed to further progress work in relation to this area of the rail network, as recently reported in the media. 1 The current proposals are much larger than the scope of the project which was being considered in 2015. The documents which you have requested contain information which will be updated to cover the current scope of the scheme and therefore the information in the documents from 2015 is rendered obsolete and is likely to lead to misunderstanding if it is disclosed. 2 As explained in the newspaper report, we are still investigating the various parameters and possible options concerning the crossings and have not made a decision on how to proceed. Whilst significant funding (£8.8m) has been found for further development, we are yet to receive the funds and then go through the investment and procurement processes to start the development of the programme of works. This further development work will be combined with the risk assessments and Cambridgeshire County Council’s work on a possible solution for the roads, in order to work out what the overall solution will look like. As the County Council are still in the process of assessing the implications for roads, we consider that it would not be appropriate to disclose the risk assessments from 2015 and the supporting material, which has been superseded by these subsequent developments. 3 As explained above, we are currently in the process of formulating and developing our approach to the level crossings in Queen Adelaide. Although the requested risk assessments and the supporting information are in themselves finished documents, since they were finished we have continued to formulate our approach to the Ely North junction and the level crossings in Queen Adelaide. As explained above, the situation has recently changed since 2015 and the assessments and supporting information no longer reflect our current approach to the crossings." [See news item below, dated Saturday 28 January 2017].

At the Association's Committee Meeting held on Saturday 11 February 2017 it was "AGREED that the Association continues to support Network Rail's Level Crossing Reduction Strategy as it affects King's Lynn-King's Cross Fen Line services and to submit representations of support to the Secretary of State when an application for an Order under the Transport and Works Act 1992 is made."

Friday 10 February 2017 - "East Anglia region to see 'biggest ever investment' in rail improvements: Ely is set to get a large slice of the £1.4 billion investment" says the Cambridge News. "Ely is top of train operator Greater Anglia's list of £1.4 billion East Anglian rail upgrades to be delivered over the next decade. The upgrades include Ely North Junction, Queen Adelaide level crossings, as well as re-signalling and bridge strengthening to enable more frequent and reliable services. There are also proposals for an Ely to Soham double tracking project to enable more frequent freight and passenger services" reports Anna Savva today. Her report continues: "Greater Anglia managing director Jamie Burles is writing to stakeholders across the region, including MPs, local authorities, local enterprise partnerships, chamber of commerce and rail user groups, to seek their support in making the case to government."

Wednesday 8 February 2017 - "Greater Anglia highlights key East Anglia rail infrastructure priorities" says the company. In a statement issued today, Greater Anglia announces it is "writing to stakeholders across the region (including MPs, local authorities, local enterprise partnerships, chamber of commerce and rail user groups) to seek their support in making the case to government, ministers and other key decision makers for the investment to be made available to Network Rail to implement ten key schemes within the next ten years. ... Greater Anglia believes [its] priorities, ... are consistent with the East Anglian Rail Prospectus and the aims of the Great Eastern Main Line Taskforce, the West Anglia Taskforce, the Ely Taskforce and the Felixstowe – Nuneaton strategic freight network project ...." The priority list includes: "Felixstowe – Peterborough (and Nuneaton): *Haughley Junction upgrade (to enable more frequent and reliable services) *Ely area upgrades (including Ely North Junction, Queen Adelaide level crossings, re-signalling and bridge strengthening, to enable more frequent and reliable services) *Ely – Soham double tracking project (to enable more frequent freight and passenger services)." [Great Northern, part of Govia Thameslink Railway, not part of Greater Anglia, has a franchise commitment to introduce a "half-hourly" King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross service, and Greater Anglia itself has a franchise commitment to deliver an hourly Ipswich-Ely-Peterborough service. These are dependent on the delayed Ely North Junction upgrade and associated works in the wider Ely area]. The Eastern Daily Press covers the story here.

Tuesday 7 February 2017 - £69 million growth deal for enterprise group serving West Norfolk reports the Lynn News, "Business zones and key transport infrastructure serving the borough [King's Lynn & West Norfolk] are likely to see some of the £69 million growth deal package awarded to the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). The award, which was announced by ministers on Thursday, takes the total funding awarded to the LEP to more than £290 million. The newspaper points out: "The growth deal announcement comes only days after the group stated its intention to provide £3.3 million of funding towards a study of the work needed to upgrade the Ely north rail junction.

Saturday 4 February 2017 - Greater Anglia Managing Director Jamie Burles tells MPs and business leaders that "Ely North junction remained the biggest priority for the franchise to open up the region’s railways" reports today's Eastern Daily Press. Mr Burles was speaking at a Norfolk Chamber of Commerce event, held to discuss connectivity. "Mr Burles said Greater Anglia would be installing new mobile phone masts along its railway lines to improve mobile signal and is negotiating with BT to improve the Wifi connections in its stations. Both initiatives, he said, would benefit both railway customers and those living near the lines and stations" says the EDP.

Friday 3 February 2017 - "Rail campaign makes 'significant progress'" reports yourlocalpaper today. "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 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." [The plan covers the necessary advance design and planning, not construction work]. South West Norfolk MP and Cabinet Minister Elizabeth Truss, who chaired the meeting, tells yourlocalpaper: "the plan would put the project at the 'front of the Government's next spending round'." Chris Starkie, managing director of the new Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) tells the paper: "We recognised the value of this project [Ely North Junction upgrade] and its role was highlighted in our Rail Prospectus for 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 colleagues from the rail industry." Ms Truss says: "The LEPS and freight companies have, in principle, agreed this money," adding: "the junction [is] a key intersection which, once upgraded, would allow a half-hourly passenger service from King's Lynn to London ...." Ms Truss also tells yourlocalpaper: "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."

Wednesday 1 February 2017 - Today the Cambridge News reports: "New railway station in Cambridge could be built without public money. Work is ongoing to develop a business case for the new station, but investors say their preferred scenario would be to develop the site themselves. ... A meeting was held on Monday to explore the possibility of private funding for a new station near Addenbrooke’s. Investment company, John Laing Infrastructure is looking at the viability of developing the site themselves. It is hoped private funding would accelerate the development of the station. Tony Cahill, investment manager at John Laing Infrastructure said their ideal position would be if they could invest in building the station without having to build any additional infrastructure." Mr Cahill tells the Cambridge News: "there was still a lot of work to be done to model use of the station and understand what kind of delays a new station would create on the line. 'We are hoping there will be massive demand for the new station. We feel the business case is definitely there. Local people on the campus want to use the station. There is already a suppressed demand there. There is no doubt a business case will work, it is just the technical side that needs work. Ideally, we would develop it ourselves if it can be done without other enhancements to the local network.'” The newspaper continues: "Dr Andy Williams, VP for Cambridge strategy and operations at AstraZeneca, was present at the meeting. A spokeswoman for AstraZeneca said a new station would help staff once AstraZeneca moved to the biomedical campus in 2018." And a Network Rail spokeswoman tells the Cambridge News: “We’re working with stakeholders including Heidi Allen MP, AstraZeneca and John Laing who are potentially looking to fund a station on the biomedical science campus in south Cambridge. This is a third party scheme, and we’re working through the implications that building a station at this location would have on the current timetable and future demands.”

AstraZeneca made a presentation about their Cambridge site to Cambridge City Council in July 2014 and their presentation is helpful in understanding the size and implications of their development, now under construction and visible from Fen Line trains. Another document, Cambridge Biomedical Campus: Implications of new construction, on site access and circulation, is published by the Biomedical Campus.

As well as supporting King's Lynn-King's Cross trains stopping at the new Cambridge North station, due to open on Sunday 21 May 2017, the Association's policy is also to "support stops at Finsbury Park (excellent connectivity to the Thameslink Core, the City and the West End) and at any future Cambridge South/Biomedical Campus/Addenbrooke's station." See news item dated Friday 2 December 2016 below. See also our document Linking homes and jobs needs more and longer trains, published on Monday 14 March 2016.

Tuesday 31 January 2017 - " Longer trains will come to West Norfolk, but not yet, summit is told." Leading a full-page [page 6] about West Norfolk rail services, New Editor Allister Webb's article continues: "Rail firm must deliver on December 2018 pledge, MP warns. ... The current aspiration is for eight-carriage services to run all the way to Lynn, with work both to extend platforms at smaller stations and selectively lock carriages from which passengers cannot step onto a platform. But, although industry officials had previously expressed an aim to introduce longer trains during 2016, Friday’s rail summit in Downham was told they now expect to start running eight-carriage units by December 2018. Chris Rowley, of Network Rail, said: 'We know overcrowding at peak times is a big issue and something that’s been flagged up for years. The bottom line is the development is proceeding well. We’re going for permission next week to progress to detailed design work. From a standing start last year when we had to relay bad news, we still expect to be able to deliver an eight-car railway by the end of this control period (2018-19).'" North West Norfolk MP, Sir Henry Bellingham, tells the newspaper: “We’ve got to absolutely hold their feet to the fire. That is going to solve the problem of massive congestion. At the moment it’s almost sort of Third World standards." [There are a very small number of 8-car King's Lynn-King's Cross services running currently, but these do not stop at Watlington, Littleport or Waterbeach, where the platforms are too short. Most London trains attach/detach 4 cars at Cambridge and serve King's Lynn as single 4-car units. Resolution of the, at times severe, overcrowding by running longer trains to/from Kings Lynn is a long-established aspiration of the Association].

Monday 30 January 2017 - The Lynn News says "Millions set to fund studies of East Anglia rail upgrade plans ... A multi-million pound package has been drawn up to pay for detailed analysis of the work needed to upgrade a key bottleneck on East Anglia’s rail network. ... MPs have called for the pressure towards an improved network to be maintained during a summit meeting with council chiefs, business leaders and rail industry officials." West Norfolk Council chief executive Ray Harding, who chairs a task force set up to look into the issues, told the Lynn News that significant progress had been made over the past year and urged all parties to maintain the momentum. He said: “It’s vital to keep this partnership together, moving forward as we have over the last 12 months, with political support.” Officials from Network Rail, told the newspaper that the partnership’s efforts meant the project was now “on the front foot” to see work beginning early in the next spending round, which starts in 2019. Chris Rowley, from the group, said: “I can assure you that’s not the case everywhere. We feel a lot of progress has been made.” Mr Rowley said issues that would need to be resolved included a doubling of the tracks, the strengthening of a bridge to the north of the junction that freight trains currently have to pass over at as little as 20 miles per hour and level crossing improvements. Norfolk County Council’s principal infrastructure and economic growth planner David Cumming, said: “Ely is a blockage right across the rail network. It’s holding back the economy of East Anglia. The scale of the benefits is high.” The Lynn News also reports: "And representatives of Govia Thameslink [operators of Great Northern] and Greater Anglia called for priority to be given to their plans to expand services from King’s Lynn to Cambridge [and on to King's Cross - many new Ely-King's Cross services will operate from May] and Ipswich to Peterborough, through Bury St Edmunds, respectively, as they have been committed to in current franchise agreements."

Monday 30 January 2017 - " Cash boost could mean improvements to Ely North could begin in three years time - conference called by Liz Truss MP told". That's the headline of today's Ely Standard story. "Officials have said the proposed plans will see a £500m boost to the East Anglia economy and see half-hourly trains from King’s Lynn to London. Before the summit got under way, one MP said the region’s ageing rail network left people 'cut off from opportunity'." Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman tells the newspaper: “Ely junction is the bottleneck holding back our entire East Anglian economy, forcing passengers and freight onto our congested roads by preventing rail expansion. Our area is home to some of the most exciting new companies, jobs and opportunities but an old-fashioned, fragmented and under-funded rail network is holding us back and leaving people cut off from the opportunities. Our rail network is fundamental to spreading opportunity to all in the east. The Prime Minister is determined to build an economy that everyone has a chance in. We are committed to a new east - west rail link, but we need to clear the Ely junction to allow it to run.” Elizabeth Truss MP says: “There is a really strong political will to get this done. We are competing with the rest of the country so we need to get ahead of the queue when there are other projects in the country. It is in all of our best interests to get this started and nail down the funding programme so network rail get cracking on with the job. It is complicated but infrastructure is absolutely necessary to get right.”

Saturday 28 January 2017 - "Hopes rise over Ely junction upgrade" is the front page story of today's Eastern Daily Press, West Norfolk & Fens Weekend Edition. The full story, on page 7, is headlined "Work on rail bottleneck could begin in three years." Taz Ali reports: "Improvements to a major bottleneck on the region's railways could begin in three year's time. South West Norfolk MP and Justice Secretary Elizabeth Truss chaired a rail summit at Downham Market Town Hall yesterday. It was attended by MPs, the New Anglia and Greater Cambridge and Peterborough local enterprise partnerships and Network Rail. They heard a task force led by West Norfolk council hopes work on the Ely North junction could be included in the next round of funding for major rail projects, which runs from 2020 - 2029. Ms Truss said: 'There is a really strong political will to get this done.' ... Network Rail said hopes to increase the number of trains going through the junction from six to 11 an hour. Other planned improvements include eight-carriage trains, platform expansions and level-crossing assessments. But the biggest challenge will be designing the infrastructure ..." The EDP story goes on to report: "Both the New Anglia and Greater Cambridge and Peterborough local enterprise partnerships have agreed to put £3.3m [each] while the Freight Network is contributing £2.2m. Officials have said the proposed plans will see a £500m boost to the East Anglia economy and see half-hourly trains from King’s Lynn to London. Before the summit got under way, one MP said the region’s ageing rail network left people 'cut off from opportunity'”. [We endorse the need to further improve King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross rail services to link our areas of (relatively) cheaper housing with the two prime employment markets served by the Fen Line - Cambridge and London - better. Our document Linking homes and jobs needs more and longer trains was published on Monday 14 March 2016 - see news item of that date, below].

Saturday 28 January 2017 - Rupert Moss-Eccardt replies to Network Rail concerning level crossings at Queen Adelaide [see news item below, dated Friday 27 January 2017] saying: "If it is feasible within the resources you have reasonably available I should like all the support material you have indicated. However if that would take this request beyond the resources you must or choose to expend then I should like them in the following order of priority (first one mentioned being the highest):*All Level Crossing Risk Model (ALCRM) risk assessment results for various options; *Gap Analysis Summary Note; *Traffic flow analysis technical note; *Phase 2 Gap Analysis Report; *Traffic censuses; *Scheme Sketch. I see that you mention ALCRM. If other risk assessments have been performed they should also be included." Network Rail will reply to Mr Moss-Eccardt no later than Friday 24 February 2017.

Friday 27 January 2017 - Network Rail responds to Rupert Moss-Eccardt's Freedom of Information request in respect of level crossings at Queen Adelaide [see news item below, dated Tuesday 17 January 2017} saying: "I have reviewed your request and consulted with experts within Network Rail, but I cannot identify the information you require from the details you have provided. To help me meet your request, I would be grateful if you could provide further details, specifically what information you are seeking when you request ‘supporting data used for such assessment’. I understand that supporting data for the risk assessments might include the following:  Scheme sketch;  Phase 2 Gap Analysis Report;  Gap Analysis Summary Note;  Traffic flow analysis technical note;  All Level Crossing Risk Model (ALCRM) risk assessment results for various options;  Traffic censuses. Please can you let me know if your request for supporting data would cover all of these items, whether you only wish to request some of these, or whether you are requesting something else? "

Friday 27 January 2017 - BBC Look East political correspondent says: "Ely junction plans 'will take a while'." On the BBC Look east evening news, Andrew Sinclair asks: "It is probably the most strategically important junction in the region, it’s certainly the most congested - but when will Ely North be improved?" Cambridgeshire County Council leader, Councillor Steve Count tells Look East: "This is hugely frustrating. It has a lengthy process to it." Andrew Sinclair says: "The £200 million junction improvement would make it possible to run more trains from King’s Lynn to Cambridge and on to London, ..." and Elizabeth Truss MP adds: "This scheme would generate £500 million for the local area. In my view, it absolutely has to be done because we need to open up the line to Kings Lynn to be able to have half-hourly services, ...." In reporting that "local businesses have committed almost £8 million to pay for a scoping study, in the hope that it’ll speed up the design and planning process" and standing at Downham Market station level crossing, Andrew Sinclair concludes: "There is a real determination to see this junction upgraded ... the reality is that it is still likely to be several years before we even have a start date for the work."

Friday 27 January 2017 - " New trains tested on Lynn route" reports YourLocalPaper today. "The first train in Great Northern’s modern new fleet is being tested without passengers on the King’s Lynn route," says the newspaper. "Complete with air conditioning, the new trains are to enter service later this year, replacing many of the existing trains. Features include two-by-two seating with tables, power points at every seat and fully-accessible toilets. ... The project is part of an overall plan to replace almost all the trains on the Great Northern route by 2020."

Friday 27 January 2017 - "Cash from LEP poised to break the deadlock over funding next stage of Ely North, Soham and Wisbech to March rail hopes" says John Elworthy in the Ely Standard. "Neil Darwin, LEP’s chief executive, unveiled proposals at a rail ‘summit’ in Downham Market that would see nearly £9 million pumped into three key projects. The offer includes: * £3.3 million to fund a business case for Ely North *£2.2 million to help pay for a new station at Soham and dualling the track *£3.3 million (subject to final board approval) for the next stage of the Wisbech to March proposed reopening." Mr Darwin told the Ely Standard that the money for Soham was subject to the Department of Transport agreeing up to £2.5 million for their ‘station fund’ and the new devolved authority chipping in £2 million. "Improvements at Ely North will cost £200 million upwards says Mr Darwin – what he described as an 'astronomic sum'. But unless the work is agreed it is unlikely other rail improvements – such as the Wisbech to March line- could go ahead."

Friday 27 January 2017 - UPDATE: Chris Bishop's EDP article has been updated. Immediately following the rail summit's ending, he writes: "Talks in Downham Market hear work to end East Anglia’s rail bottleneck at Ely could begin in three years’ time." His breaking news story continues: "MPs and officials met today to discuss upgrading a key junction in Cambridgeshire. They heard £8.8m had been set aside for a feasibility study into what Network Rail regards as a complex scheme. Both the New Anglia and Greater Cambridge and Peterborough local enterprise partnerships have agreed to put £3.3m towards the work, while the Freight Network is contributing £2.2m. South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss, who chaired today’s meeting, said: 'This the key in fixing this junction. I want to do everything to make sure the project is ready for a chance of getting in early for control period 6.' Control Period 6 is the next round of funding for major rail projects, which runs from 2020 - 2029." Elizabeth Truss told the EDP: "We are competing with the rest of the country so we need to get ahead of the queue when there are other projects in the country. It is in all of our best interests to get this started and nail down the funding programme so Network Rail get cracking on with the job. It is complicated but infrastructure is absolutely necessary to get right.” EARLIER: Talks under way in Downham Market to end East Anglia’s rail bottleneck at Ely" reports Chris Bishop of the Eastern Daily Press. "As the summit got under way, one MP said the region’s ageing rail network left people 'cut off from opportunity'. Experts say upgrading the Ely North junction would boost East Anglia’s economy by £500m and enable trains to run half-hourly between King’s Lynn and London. Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman said: “Ely junction is the bottleneck holding back our entire East Anglian economy, forcing passengers and freight onto our congested roads by preventing rail expansion." The EDP points out: "Work was due to start this year. But a review published in 2015 postponed the upgrade for up to seven years. Today’s summit comes a year after South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss hosted a meeting calling for all organisations to work together to ensure the upgrade takes place as soon as possible. Councils, LEPs, Network rail, freight and passenger train operators and Department for Transport all agreed to form a task force and work together on the scheme. The task force, led by West Norfolk council chief executive Ray Harding, will present the progress made so far today."

Thursday 26 January 2017 - Writing in the Ely Standard, Ben Jolley reports: "MPs to hold summit on £35 million Ely rail junction upgrade. Members of Parliament from the eastern region will meet in Downham Market tomorrow (Friday 27) to hold a rail summit on the upgrade of the Ely rail junction. Improvements to the junction, originally expected to cost £35 million, were due to start this year. But a review published in 2015 postponed the upgrade for up to seven years. Discussions will focus on the work required to improve road layout, level crossings and track upgrade in the Ely area. ... The original cost for the works had been estimated at £35 million; however, Network Rail said it will be substantially more due to complexities around level crossings, signalling, structures and the layout of Ely station. ... Councils, LEPs, Network Rail, freight and passenger train operators and Department for Transport all agreed to form a task force and work together on the scheme. The summit comes a year after Miss Truss hosted a meeting calling for all organisations to work together to ensure the upgrade of Ely North rail junction takes place as soon as possible." Elizabeth Truss MP tells the paper: "“After last year’s summit, a task force was formed and I know significant progress has been made in identifying the work required on the rail junction, level crossings and surrounding roads. ... Finance of the scheme has also been discussed and proposals will be presented to MPs. This is a key priority for me and my fellow MPs so we are keen to see the upgrade take place as soon as possible.” The Ely Standard article lists the routes which are served by the Ely Area and reports that Lucy Frazer MP, Jo Churchill MP, Sir Henry Bellingham MP, New Anglia LEP, Greater Cambridge and Peterborough LEP, Network Rail, Department for Transport, councils and train and freight operators will also be attending tomorrow's summit.

Thursday 26 January 2017 - "Talks are being held tomorrow on work required to improve a key rail junction" says the Eastern Daily Press. "Improvements to Ely North Junction, which were originally expected to cost £35m, would have allowed half-hourly trains to run between King's Lynn and London." The newspaper points out that the upgrade scheme was postponed but " this week’s summit [to be held at Downham Market] comes a year after South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss hosted a meeting calling for all organisations to work together to ensure the upgrade of Ely North rail junction takes place as soon as possible. The councils, LEPs, Network rail, freight and passenger train operators and Department for Transport all agreed to form a task force and work together on the scheme. The task force, led by West Norfolk council chief executive Ray Harding, will present the progress made so far at this week’s summit."

Wednesday 25 January 2017 - Radio station KLFM 96.7 runs the news story on Friday's forthcoming Downham Market Rail Summit, reporting: "Rail summit this week on Ely North Junction upgrade. The King’s Lynn to London rail line runs at half hourly at peak times, hourly at other times. Franchise commitment specified by government to deliver half hourly services throughout the day from May 2017." The radio station also says: "Attending the summit with Elizabeth will be Lucy Frazer MP, Jo Churchill MP, Sir Henry Bellingham MP, New Anglia LEP, Greater Cambridge and Peterborough LEP, Network Rail, Department for Transport, Councils and train and freight operators."

Wednesday 25 January 2017 - "MPs to hold Rail Summit on key junction in eastern region" says a release issued today by Cabinet Minister and South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss. "Discussions will focus on the work required to improve road layout, level crossings and track upgrade in the Ely area. The rail junction is a key intersection serving both passenger and freight lines. Once the upgrade has taken place, the economic benefits have been calculated in excess of £0.5 billion. This week’s summit comes a year after South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss hosted a meeting calling for all organisations to work together to ensure the upgrade of Ely North rail junction takes place as soon as possible. The councils, LEPs, Network Rail, freight and passenger train operators and Department for Transport all agreed to form a task force and work together on the scheme. The task force, led by Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council Chief Executive Ray Harding, will present the progress made so far at this week’s summit in Downham Market." Elizabeth Truss comments: "After last year’s summit, a task force was formed and I know significant progress has been made in identifying the work required on the rail junction, level crossings and surrounding roads. Finance of the scheme has also been discussed and proposals will be presented to MPs this week. This is a key rail intersection in the eastern region, serving many freight and passenger routes, and once it is upgraded will allow for half hourly service on the Fen Line, improved services on the Thetford route, and will enable increased movement of the high value freight trains. This is a key priority for me and my fellow MPs so we are keen to see the upgrade take place as soon as possible."

Tuesday 24 January 2017 - "New trains being tested between King’s Lynn and Cambridge" writes the Eastern Daily Press' Chris Bishop today. The article says: "The first modern, air-conditioned train of Great Northern’s new fleet has started testing on the route between King’s Lynn and Cambridge. The train, which will enter service later this year, offers two-by-two seating with tables and power points throughout for those who want to work or play and charge their devices, modern passenger information systems and spaces for people in wheelchairs." The EDP has a photograph of one of the class 387 test trains at King's Lynn station and an interior view. GTR Engineering Director Gerry McFadden tells the newspaper: “In just a few short years, we’ll be moving from one of the oldest fleets in the country to one of the newest.”

Tuesday 17 January 2017 - Network Rail replies to Rupert Moss-Eccardt's Freedom of Information Act request in respect of level crossings at Queen Adelaide [see news item below, dated Sunday 15 January 2017]. The company seeks further information from Mr. Moss-Eccardt. He replies, saying: "could I have the risk assessments and supporting data for the last couple of years, please? So from the start of 2015? I imagine that won't be more than one or two for each crossing."

Monday 16 January 2017 - Cambridge City Council's South Area Committee considers a Cambridge South Station Project Update report this evening (Agenda pages 19-21 of 46). The report states: "John Laing is a major investor in the Biomedical Campus and has experience of delivering privately funded stations elsewhere. They are leading and funding the current feasibility work, with support from Astra Zeneca and the County Council. ... The [current] work, which is in the very early stages of the Network Rail’s GRIP (Guide to Rail Investment Process) process, is focusing on timetabling analysis. As this is crucial to whether or not a station is feasible. It is important because if a train stops at the new station it impacts on the timetables along its entire journey and it may lose its ‘path’ through the network, or interfere with the paths of other trains. This timetabling work is closely linked with that for Cambridge North Station, the East Anglia Franchise and Thameslink [including Great Northern]. ... A key issue currently being explored is whether it is feasible to have a station with just the current two tracks. Both the new bridges over the railway in the Addenbrooke’s area have provision for four tracking that is likely to be needed at some point in the future. The new station will at the very least need to make passive provision for future additional tracks. The new station would have to go through the full planning application process which will involve an assessment of the environmental impact." The meeting is at Cherry Hinton Village Leisure Centre at 7pm.

Sunday 15 January 2017 - Mr Moss-Eccardt makes a new Freedom of Information request to Network Rail, asking them to provide him with "the risk assessments and, supporting data used for such assessment for each and every of the three level crossings that cross the B1382 in the village of Queen Adelaide, Cambridgeshire."

Sunday 15 January 2017 - Mr Moss-Eccardt replies to Network Rail, stating: "I am writing to request an internal review of Network Rail Limited's handling of my FOI request 'Queen Adelaide Survey Procurement Support Documentation'. [See news item dated Wednesday 11 January 2017]. Although I acknowledge that documents in preparation can be exempt, cannot believe that applies to risk assessments. If the risk assessments of each of the crossings are incomplete, please confirm that explicitly, for each crossing. Similarly the strategic options risk assessment from 2015 - if it is still in preparation then providing it to inform the policy development at the County Council would make any proposals, for which the County is spending good money, unsafe. Again can you explicitly confirm that that risk assessment is incomplete and also describe what is missing or what makes it unsuitable." Mr Moss-Eccardt's full response can be seen here.

Friday 13 January 2017 - "MP in talks over closed pub and cafe" reports yourlocalpaper. Elizabeth Truss MP had called the meeting, saying: "I am keen to ensure that the building is put back into use as soon as possible." She also told the paper that "the station was a key gateway to the town and Fens and that it was vital the potential of the site was 'maximised'".

Wednesday 11 January 2017 - Network Rail replies to Rupert Moss-Eccardt's Freedom of Information request concerning level crossings in the Queen Adelaide area (see news item dated Tuesday 21 December 2016). Network Rail says: "The Queen Adelaide level crossings are included in the GRIP 1-3 Option Selection Ely Area Capacity Enhancements scheme. At the time of your request, we anticipate that the funds to continue developing the scheme will be available in 2017. However, there is no funding commitment to an overall scheme in our Control Period 6 (covering the period 2019-2024). In the meantime, we are working with Cambridgeshire County Council, who are conducting a review to understand the circumstances from a road perspective and whether there are any road-based solutions that could be reached for the crossings. Therefore, we are still investigating the various parameters and possible options concerning the crossings and have not made a decision on how to proceed. ... We have not yet selected a single option (stage 3 of the GRIP process) or secured funding. The process is likely to continue for some time and the requested information forms part of a continuing process and as such, is material in the course of completion. ... disclosing the requested information at an early stage of the process would harm our ability to discuss the options and decide how to proceed. Disclosure of the requested information would also be misleading as no final decision has been made on how to proceed." Network Rail's full reply can be seen here.

Wednesday 11 January 2017 - The East Cambridgeshire Local Plan Further Draft - January 2017 envisages some 3160-3315 new houses at Ely (pages 84/85 - map here) and some 2466 new houses at Littleport (page 104 - map here). These figures from the draft plan are indicative; the Council's consultation is here.

Monday 9 January 2017 - Continuing the Cambridge News' extensive reporting of the fast-developing Fen Line scene, reporter Tom Pilgrim writes today: "[Cambridge] Train station footfall hits 11 million a year as city looks to Cambridge North station to help alleviate pressure. Cambridge North station is opening in May and discussions on a new station for the Biomedical Campus are ongoing. The number of people entering and exiting Cambridge on a train has rocketed to 11 million a year as the city looks ahead to the opening of its second railway station later this year. ... The city's newest station, Cambridge North, opens in May, while local businesses are also lobbying for a station to be built to the south of the city, near Addenbrooke's Hospital. The growth of the city's businesses and commuting population has put pressure on its transport infrastructure and it is hoped two new stations would relieve the burden. Cambridge North, which Network Rail says is 80 per cent complete, will feature three platforms and is projected to handle 3,000 passengers a day. The £50 million station, managed by Greater Anglia, is expected to receive Greater Anglia and Great Northern services to London King's Cross and London Liverpool Street." Mr Pilgrim adds: "A new station to the South of Cambridge at Addenbrooke's Hospital has also been called for by the city's businesses. Business lobby group Cambridge Ahead produced its Case for Cambridge report in 2015 arguing that a new station would help stop the city being 'held back by a need for infrastructure investment'. Pharmaceutical giant AstraZenenca, which is moving its headquarters to Cambridge, has co-funded a study into the feasibility of a station to the south of the city. Discussions are believed to be ongoing between the company, infrastructure experts John Laing and Network Rail." The Cambridge News also reports: "Malcolm Lowe-Lauri, Executive Director at Cambridge University Health Partners, said: 'Discussions continue to take place with Network Rail regarding building a new railway station for the Cambridge Biomedical Campus and the south of Cambridge. The station is a vital piece of infrastructure which many organisations have been working to deliver. Last year AstraZeneca co-funded a study for the station with John Laing which demonstrated the feasibility of building a station at the campus. The study included an initial analysis of potential timetable options to be validated in the coming months through close engagement with Network Rail and train operators. The need is clearly there with thousands of employees, patients and visitors travelling every day even before AstraZeneca begin to move to the site at the end of this year and Papworth Hospital come in 2018.'"

Monday 9 January 2017 - The Cambridge News was given a tour of the Cambridge North station site and an article by Chris Elliott contains photographs of how far the construction work has progressed. "Work on the £50 million station started two years ago, and the building itself, which has three platforms – London outbound, London inbound, and King’s Lynn via Ely – is very close to completion. When open it will have a ticket office, shopping facilities, seven barrier gates, a 450-space car park, and a covered 1,000-space, two-storey cycle park, partly lit by solar roof panels. The platforms are linked by a 27-metre bridge, and there are also lifts large enough to accommodate cycles." Helen Warnock, area director for Network Rail, tells the Cambridge News: “Our teams have been working very hard to get the new station ready and we’re on track for opening in May. ... The station will be very well used, we’re sure, with an initial forecast of 3,000 passenger journeys a day.”

Thursday 29 December 2016 - " King’s Lynn’s rolling stock has truly come of age" says the Lynn News, reporting that GTR's average rolling stock is 21 years. The current class 365 units which run on King's Lynn-King's Cross services were built in 1994/5. These units are occasionally supplemented by class 317 units, dating from the mid 1980s. Greater Anglia, which operates Fen Line services to/from Liverpool Street uses class 379 trains (which are 5 years old) also supplemented by older class 317 units. From May 2017, King's Lynn-King's Cross services will be operated by 110 mph class 387 units, which are about 2 years old (see news item dated Monday 10 October 2016). Greater Anglia will replace its trains in 2019/20 with a brand new fleet (see news item dated Monday 17 October 2016).

Tuesday 21 December 2016 - Rupert Moss-Eccardt writes to Network Rail: "Dear Network Rail Limited, Cambridgeshire County Council are currently considering closure of level crossings on the B1382 in Queen Adelaide. They refer to a number of documents in their RFQ for the consultants involved. These are * Risk Assessment of Strategic Options for Ely North Junction (Nov 2015); * Suitable and Sufficient Risk Assessments: Queen Adelaide-Kings Lynn Level Crossing (Nov 2015); Queen Adelaide-Norwich Level Crossing (Nov 2015); Queen Adelaide- Peterborough Level Crossing (Nov 2015) * Ely Area Constraints - Draft Briefing Note (Aug 2016). I requested them from the County Council but they say they can't as they are your documents so I am now requesting them from you. My request to the County is here. To save time, if you baldly assert commercial confidentiality I will seek an internal review. To help with the public interest test, this will significantly affect the lives of several residents and reduce property values. At the same time there is the assertion this will save lives so there is clearly a great deal of public interest." Network Rail replies [on 22 December] that they "will endeavour to respond to you as soon as possible and in any event by 24 January 2017."

Tuesday 21 December 2016 - Cambridgeshire County Council rejects Mr Moss-Eccardt's request for information regarding the Queen Adelaide survey procurement documentation (see news story dated Saturday 3 December 2016 below). The County Council states, inter alia, "1. The information contained in these documents includes commercial information which is confidential and that confidentiality is protecting Network Rail's economic interests - disclosing information about estimated costs would harm any eventual tendering process for work; 2. The information is part of ongoing work to develop Network Rail's options for the level crossings and a final decision is not likely to be made for some time. However, we hope to have the results of the traffic study by mid 2017." [The road traffic survey work is an important part in bringing forward proposals for the delayed Ely North Junction project; this project now embraces the entire Ely Area]. Mr Moss-Eccardt replies to Cambridgeshire County Council, stating: "I am writing to request an internal review of Cambridgeshire County Council's handling of my FOI request 'Queen Adelaide Survey Procurement Support Documentation'. I don't think that commercial confidentiality applies here, particularly in the regulatory regime in which Network Rail operates. The risk assessments are public documents. Now you have clarified that all documents requested are owned by NR I shall go to them (which will also demonstrate the incorrect application of the confidentiality exemption)."

Tuesday 13 December 2016 - "West Norfolk rail passenger numbers rise, but growth rate slowing, new figures show" reports the Lynn News today. "Use of West Norfolk’s rail network is still rising, but much more slowly than in recent years, new figures have shown" says the newspaper, "More than 1.62 million people are estimated to have accessed the borough’s three stations during the year to the end of March, according to latest data from the Office for Rail and Road." The Association's Chairman, Colin Sampson, tells the paper that "while West Norfolk’s figures were still rising, totals for other Norfolk stations, including Norwich, Diss and Yarmouth, were all falling." Peter Smith tells the Lynn News the figures reflected "the faster rate of new home construction around Downham and Watlington, compared to Lynn" and claims "if you’re starting your journey at Lynn, you’ll probably get a seat. If you get on at Downham or Ely, you haven’t got a cat in hell’s chance.” In the Lynn News article, Colin Sampson stresses that "political and business leaders [are] keeping up the pressure to secure better services."

For selected growth statistics derived from the ORR 2015/6 station usage estimates see the news item dated Tuesday 6 December 2016 below.

Friday 9 December 2016 - "New Talks to Boost Rail Links" is the front page story of today's 'yourlocalpaper'. The paper says: "Fresh talks are planned in a bid to drive forward the delayed Ely North junction upgade. South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss is to spearhead a rail summit in the new year ..." The article, by Sue Irving, continues: "The talks are set to take place almost a year after MPs, business and council leaders, rail officials and Department for Transport representatives held a similar meeting in Downham Market. A commitment was made then that money would be found to progress a feasibility study into the project, which would include level crossing and road improvements." Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, reports the newspaper, "told Justice Minister Ms Truss, her correspondence was a 'helpful' reminder of the importance of the Ely area infrastructure to rail services in the region." 'yourlocalpaper' says: "Campaigners want improvements to the junction, which has long been a bottleneck on the line from Norfolk to the capital, to be made a priority when the next funding period starts in 2019."

Friday 9 December 2016 - A report discussed by the West Yorkshire Combined Authority today, states: "The East Coast Route Study will be published for consultation in 2017, however it is thought that the strategy that is likely to be proposed can be summarised as: • Remove bottlenecks and the constraints of mixed traffic; • Adopt digital signalling and traffic management; • Enable higher more uniform speeds; • Build resilient infrastructure; • Deliver enhancements in steps; and • Broaden funding opportunities [Paragraph 2.15]." The forthcoming East Coast Route Study is of relevance to the Fen Line: King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross services use the East Coast Coast Main Line south of Hitchin to access London.

Tuesday 6 December 2016 - Official 2015/6 station usage estimates issued today by the Office for Rail and Road show that three - Ely, King's Lynn and Downham Market - of East Anglia's ‘top 12’ busiest stations are on the Fen Line. Cambridge with 10.9 million users is the busiest station of all in East Anglia. We define East Anglia as Cambridge (including Peterborough), Norfolk and Suffolk - 75 stations in total.

After Cambridge (+5.1%), Peterborough (+2.2%), Norwich (-0.6%) and Ipswich (-0.3%) in that order, Ely (2.1 million, +3.1%) is at position no. 5, followed by Huntingdon (+2.0%) and St. Neots (+5.4%). Position no. 8 is taken by King's Lynn (0.97 million, +0.3%). Stowmarket (+2.5%), Diss (-1.0%) and Bury St. Edmunds (+1.3%) follow; at position no.12 is Downham Market (0.5 million, +1.8%).

Waterbeach (0.42 million, +10.4%) showed the biggest percentage increase for a Fen Line station. Littleport (229,00, -3.5%) showed a decline (in total, 34 East Anglian stations have shown a decline). Watlington (149,000, +3.5%) is the quietest Fen Line station and holds position no 31 of 75 in East Anglia.

Saturday 3 December 2016 - Rupert Moss-Eccardt has written to Cambridgeshire County Council making the following request under the Freedom of Information Act: "In the RFQ for 'A TRAFFIC STUDY INVESTIGATING QUEEN ADELAIDE LEVEL CROSSINGS' (issued 12th September this year), there is a list of documents that will help with the assessment. These are listed as: • Risk Assessment of Strategic Options for Ely North Junction (Nov 2015) • Suitable and Sufficient Risk Assessments - Queen Adelaide- Kings Lynn Level Crossing (Nov 2015); Queen Adelaide- Norwich Level Crossing (Nov 2015); Queen Adelaide- Peterborough Level Crossing (Nov 2015); • Ely Area Constraints- Draft Briefing Note (Aug 2016). Could you please send me copies?" Cambridgeshire County Council must respond promptly and normally no later than 5 January 2017).

Friday 2 December 2016 - "A new rail summit will take place in the new year in a renewed bid to accelerate work on a key upgrade of West Norfolk’s rail link to London" reports the Lynn News today. The newspaper says: "South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss, following praise for the campaign to upgrade the Ely north junction from transport secretary Chris Grayling. Mr Grayling, in a letter dated 30 November 2016, said the project would be “well placed for early delivery” ... [in CP6] if a strong business case can be made. The Lynn News continues: "He added: 'I have been impressed to hear of the efforts of local stakeholders working together to accelerate delivery of the Ely area enhancement proposals.'” Cabinet Minister Elizabeth Truss told the newspaper: "“I am very pleased the Transport Secretary has recognised the work done by MPs, councils, LEPs, Network Rail and the passenger / freight train operators in progressing the upgrade of the Ely rail junction." The South West Norfolk MP has also issued a statement today, saying: "In the New Year I am holding a rail summit and the message to the Secretary of State will very much be this; the Ely Area enhancement programme will generate millions of pounds for the UK economy, will support jobs, drive forward investment and will be a fantastic boost for business and employment in the eastern region."

Friday 2 December 2016 - "AstraZeneca tunnel gives renewed hope for underground Cambridge congestion solution" reports Paul Brackley in the Cambridge Independent today. His article covers the construction of a tube train sized 128-metre tunnel between two AZ buildings on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus "in a matter of weeks." Though built for other reasons, the project could be considered as a pilot project for the possible construction of a Cambridge underground railway. AstraZeneca's Cambridge strategy chief, Andy Williams, told the paper: “We’re going into the campus towards the end of 2017 and into 2018 ... it [is] looking busy now. They are naturally saying ‘What’s it going to be like when we get there? What does that mean when Papworth Hospital is there?’ They’ve got 2,000 [staff] coming in 2018 as well." Mr Williams also tells the Cambridge Independent that AZ "has co-funded a feasibility study into a train station at Addenbrooke’s with John Laing, the company developing the Forum building on the campus. We’re doing more feasibility work and partnering with Network Rail. We believe we can timetable it on the two-track [section]. If it can’t we’ll need a further track, and we don’t know how long that would take. If it can be done on the two-track, we believe it can be in place in 2019 or possibly 2020, which would be extraordinary. It’s not just about patients, visitors, ourselves and the other businesses – we think it can help free up central Cambridge." Mr Williams asks: "Is everybody who comes to Cambridge station wanting to go to central Cambridge? No, it’s not in the right place.”

We welcome the commitment for King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross trains to call at the new Cambridge North station, currently under construction, albeit with timetable development phased in stages. In calling for all Fen Line trains on the route to run non-stop to King's Cross south of Cambridge, our policy is also to "support stops at Finsbury Park (excellent connectivity to the Thameslink Core, the City and the West End) and at any future Cambridge Biomedical Campus/Addenbrooke's station."

Wednesday 30 November 2016 - Cambridgeshire County Council is working with Network Rail over the next few weeks to survey traffic over the Queen Adelaide level crossings. Anna Savva reports in the Cambridge News in an article headed "Survey to help Network Rail crossing plans" that "In partnership with Network Rail, Cambridgeshire County Council is carrying out the traffic study at three level crossings on the road from Ely to Prickwillow. It will look into the number of people and types of vehicles using the crossings and what routes people are taking on their daily commutes. The council said the work will help the rail company and its partners improve the area’s rail capacity. It is hoped the survey will enable Network Rail to understand the flow of traffic in and out of the area and set a more efficient schedule for the crossings." She goes on to say that : "People can expect to see traffic counter tubes on the road, cameras or people by the side of the road carrying out the surveys, but road users will not be stopped as part of the surveys." [Please note that Ely North Junction crossing, mentioned in a separate part of the article, is a public footpath crossing, located on the Ely to Peterborough line].

Monday 28 November 2016 - We have today written to Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) and CrossCountry (XC) advising them that: "We are writing to convey the Association’s formal response to two timetable consultations.

"1 Govia Thameslink Railway 2018 timetable consultation – formal response:

"Having consulted members of the Association over the last two months by means of items on our website www.flua.org.uk , by an article in issue 3/2016 of our newsletter The Fenman, and by discussion at our Annual General Meeting held on 19 November 2016, we now attach a finalised version of our formal response (pdf attached). This pdf document also includes the detailed analysis and reasoning underlying our answers to your questions which follow below.

"Qs 75/82 Do you have any specific comments in relation to services between London Kings Cross and Kings Lynn?

"Our response: 2 tph to/from all Fen Line stations is demonstrably essential during peaks - including the inadequately served Cambridge afternoon peak. All Fen Line trains should call at Cambridge North as soon as possible. 2 tph to/from all staffed stations at other times is promised by the Government and we urge the early completion of the infrastructure works necessary to meet this firm commitment. We welcome more, longer, 8-car trains.

"Q14 Do you support proposals to approach engineering works differently? Please indicate all options you support. * Reduced frequency on some routes after 2300 on Weekdays and Saturdays; * Earlier last trains on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays on some routes; * Later first trains on Sunday mornings on some routes; * Don't support proposals to change the current engineering works hours; * Any further comments on proposal?

"Our response: we have consistently pushed for first and last train times to be protected; these services are important to the whole service offer. We consider using the well-established notation 'train regularly affected by engineering work - check your journey' to be better.

"Q81 … on balance do you agree that curtailing the Moorgate to Stevenage services at Watton-at-Stone from May 2018 until further notice to protect proposed frequency increases on the Hertford North, Cambridge and Peterborough routes is the right approach?

Our response: in representing some of the 104,000 users per day on the GN Mainline services, we support this approach.

"2 Cross-Country 2017 timetable consultation – formal response:

"We support the proposal to strengthen the Cross-Country 0519 Birmingham New Street-Stansted Airport service to assist in alleviating overcrowding between Ely and Cambridge and that we note that work is progressing on resolving crowding issues regarding the Cross-Country 1727 Stansted Airport-Birmingham New Street service."

Tuesday 15 November 2016 - The North East Freight Partnership’s Rail Partner Group receives a Network Rail update presentation on the forthcoming East Coast Route Study, which states: "The overriding issue is speed mix - Even 4 track sections are capacity limited when traffic runs at different speeds - Line speeds will increase over time to drive journey time down, worsening the problem." The NR update also says: "New physical infrastructure is an expensive solution: you need a lot of it for a small increase in capacity. Major bottlenecks shape the service structure: Welwyn ...." [Kings Lynn-Kings Cross services are among those constrained by the double track bottleneck in the Welwyn area, which includes but is not restricted to the double track Welwyn Viaduct. The remainder of the East Coast Main Line traversed by Great Northern Fen Line services (between Hitchin and Kings Cross] is four tracked].

Monday 14 November 2016 - A reminder is given of the Association's 31st Annual General Meeting to be held on Saturday 19 November 2016, at St. John's Church, King's Lynn, starting at 2 pm. Leaving King's Lynn station, turn right, the church is in front of you. Please use the front door, opposite the car parking area.

Our guest speaker is Helen Warnock, Area Manager, West Anglia & North London Line, Network Rail. As usual, a rail management panel will also be in attendance to answer Members' questions. The Agenda for the Meeting has been placed in the Members' section.

Non-members are welcome - please note you will be asked to join on the day!

Sunday 13 November 2016 - The GTR 2018 timetable consultation will be discussed at Saturday's AGM. We have placed a copy of our draft response to GTR's questions in the Members' section; this includes a summarised background of the evolution of, and the reasoning behind, our draft response. The current issue of The Fenman (Issue 3/2016) also outlines our draft response. We will finalise our response to GTR's consultation following the Annual General Meeting (see news item dated Thursday 27 October 2016).

Monday 31 October 2016 - Correction: Paragraph 2 on page 4 of The Fenman issue 3/2016 has the word 'staffed' missing. The third sentence of that paragraph should read "2tph to/from all staffed stations at other times is promised by the Government and we urge the early completion of the infrastructure works necessary to meet this firm commitment." The diagram on page 2 which shows the Government MINIMUM train service requirement is correct.

Monday 31 October 2016 - "Ely Area Rail Improvements GRIP 1 – 5 study (up to and including detailed design)on improvements to increase the number of train paths through Ely, including through the Ely North bottleneck, in preparation for Network Rail delivery from 2019" are included in 'Planning for Growth: A position statement from England’s Economic Heartland’s Transport Forum' [page 17] published today. The document discusses rail journey times and includes the proposed Cambridge-Oxford East West Rail project.

Thursday 27 October 2016 - The West Anglia Taskforce launches its 5 point call for action for the Cambridge-Liverpool Street line today reports the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP. The Taskforce's brochure can be found here. The 5 points are: (1) Cambridge in 60 [minutes] and Stansted in 40 [minutes]– Liverpool Street services; (2) Improving service levels to other communities along the route to support growth; (3) A new timetable by 2020 to take advantage of new, faster and longer trains; (4) Four-tracking the railway [south of Harlow] in the mid-2020s as a precursor to Crossrail 2 opening in 2033; (5) Progressing Crossrail 2 ahead of submitting a Hybrid Bill by 2019. The Taskforce envisages a "proposed new station south of Cambridge to support jobs growth at Cambridge Biomedical Campus" ['Addenbrooke's station'] by 2022. We support this proposed new station. ITV coverage of today's West Anglia Taskforce's campaign launch is to be found here.

Monday 17 October 2016 - GTR has published the 'top 6 destinations' for its stations to assist in understanding the 2018 timetable consultation proposals. We list headline figures here (year to March 2015): Fen Line stations (included in 'Cambridge Routes' information - top 2 destinations are listed below (station order reflects total footfall size, largest to smallest):

Ely - 1 Cambridge, 2 London; King's Lynn - 1 London, 2 Cambridge; Downham Market - 1 London, 2 King's Lynn; Waterbeach - 1 Cambridge, 2 London; Littleport - 1 Cambridge, 2 London; Watlington - 1 Kings Lynn, 2 Cambridge. We intend to report more fully in the next issue of The Fenman, due in early November.

Taking passenger flows to/from London destinations only, the GTR figures show that approximately 88% of Fen Line passengers travel to/from King's Cross or are estimated to travel beyond King's Cross to destinations using the cross-London Thameslink Core "if direct trains were available" (the relevant King's Cross/Thameslink Core percentages for Fen Line stations north of Ely are 89% and, for Ely and Waterbeach combined, 87%). Total Fen Line estimates for Liverpool Street are 11% and for other London destinations, 1%.

Monday 17 October 2016 - An "exclusive" Youtube video, produced by railnet, showing the first test train to Cambridge run by a new 100 mph class 700 Thameslink train, can be viewed here These trains will be used on the proposed Cambridge to Brighton and Cambridge to Maidstone East/Ashford International services. King's Lynn-King's Cross services will be operated by 110 mph class 387 trains (see news item dated 10 October 2016). .

Monday 17 October 2016 - "New Greater Anglia rail franchise launches with all trains set to be replaced" headlines the Cambridge News today. The paper continues: "Two new fleets of 1,043 carriages will be introduced to the franchise between Spring 2019 and Autumn 2020, built by Bombardier in Derby (665 carriages) and Stadler in Switzerland (378 carriages) ... Journey times are set to fall on average 10 per cent including trains from London to Cambridge in 61 minutes." We have previously reported that the fastest journey time between Liverpool Street and Cambridge (May 2016 timetable) is 65 minutes (0803 and 0833 Liverpool Street-Cambridge services) whereas the fastest transit between Kings Cross and Cambridge is 46 minutes (0844, 0944, 1044, 1144, 1244, 1344, 1444, 1544 Kings Cross-Kings Lynn services)[see news item dated Friday 18 March 2016].

Monday 17 October 2016 - "Franchise heralds 'new dawn' for rail in East Anglia" is the title of Greater Anglia's publicity launch about its new investment-led franchise. Its headlines are: "New ‘Greater Anglia’ franchise to deliver £2 billion worth of transformative improvements for passengers including a full fleet of new trains" and "Special Offer’ to attract more people to take the train."

Sunday 16 October 2016 - The new East Anglia rail franchise begins today. Current operators Abellio (click here for video) are using the "Greater Anglia" name for this new franchise, which is expected to run until 2025. Greater Anglia will continue to operate the peak King's Lynn/Ely to Liverpool Street services, as well as the Norwich to Cambridge via Ely route. Govia Thameslink Railway, trading as "Great Northern" will continue to operate the main King's Lynn-Ely-Cambridge-King's Cross route - this is part of the "Thameslink, Great Northern and Southern" management contract with the government, which lasts until September 2021.

Wednesday 12 October 2016 - Great Northern holds a 2018 timetable consultation 'roadshow' at Cambridge station from 1700 to 1900. There will be a similar event at Kings Cross station on Tuesday 8 November 2016, from 1630 to 1900.

Tuesday 4 October 2016 - We have added a Note for Members (setting out extracts from the GTR 2018 timetable consultation) and a Summary of the GTR 2018 timetable consultation data and preliminary analysis to the Members' Section. Members may obtain a printed copy of our documents by contacting Andy Tyler by email or in writing. If you work in the rail industry or for a public body and would like copies, please send your work email address to Andy Tyler and these will be emailed to you.

Friday 30 September 2016 - Network Rail publishes its CP5 Enhancements Delivery Plan Update September 2016. The document states: "The Department for Transport has now formally accepted the re-planning of the enhancements portfolio for CP5 which was proposed in the Hendy Review." We would draw particular attention to the following schemes: Ely North Junction Capacity Improvement [page 27], Anglia Traction Power Supply Upgrade [page 28], Kings Lynn-Cambridge 8-car [page 34], and Cambridge North New Station [page 160].

Wednesday 28 September 2016 - The latest issue of RAIL magazine, published today, reports on the East Anglia Rail Summit, held on Wednesday 7 September at Westminster. The Summit covered the newly-awarded East Anglia Rail Franchise [services to/from Liverpool Street, not to/from Kings Cross]. An article by RAIL's Assistant Editor Richard Clinnick, quotes MP Chloe Smith: "'We know there's a lot still to do. That focuses on the lines coming off the Great Eastern Main Line,' she said, highlighting Ely North Junction as a key improvement to boost capacity" [page 12]. Another article [page 13] quotes NR Principal Strategic Planner, London & South East, Chris Rowley: "On Ely North Junction, Rowley said: 'One of the key things for the cross-country route is the passenger aspirations. Govia Thameslink Railway wants two trains per hour to Kings Lynn, 2tph Norwich to Cambridge is an aspiration, CrossCountry wants more to Stansted Airport, and maybe there are trains to Wisbech. That adds to a major pinch point. We are liaising with Local Enterprise Partnerships and there is a clear view of what we want. We need to think of freight and passengers.'" Another article by Richard Clinnick in the same issue [page 22] reports Transport Minister Paul Maynard responding to a question "about the Ely North Junction improvements, which have been delayed, he [the Minister] said 'Projects not being delivered entirely in CP5 can have preparation work started in CP5 even if the main work is carried out in CP6, so it becomes more seamless.'"

Tuesday 27 September 2016 - In another announcement about new trains, Great Northern announces "Air-conditioned trains breeze on to Great Northern this autumn." The statement says: "Air-conditioned trains will be breezing onto the Great Northern route for the first time ever next month, as the rail firm gives passengers cooler, more comfortable journeys between the capital and Peterborough and Cambridge. ... And from May next year, subject to work to be carried out by Network Rail, these first new trains will also run on the Fen Line, between Cambridge and King’s Lynn." The trains (which are less than two years old and are currently running on Thameslink services between Bedford and Brighton) are listed as featuring "*Greater reliability than existing trains *Two-by-two seating with tables and power points throughout for those who want to work or play and charge their devices *Modern passenger information systems *Spaces for people in wheelchairs, fully accessible toilets and other features for people with disabilities."

The statement also says: "If Great Northern is able to extend its fast King’s Cross-Cambridge ‘flyers’ to Ely in May 2017 (this depends on Network Rail infrastructure changes) then this will not only double the service between Ely and Cambridge/King’s Cross to two trains per hour, but it will help serve the new station at Cambridge North; stopping services from King’s Lynn to Cambridge would also stop at Cambridge North from May 2017, providing an initial service of two trains per hour at the new station. By 2019, Cambridge North is proposed to have twice the number of trains – four per hour. Two from King’s Lynn and two from Ely (and vice versa)."

Tuesday 20 September 2016 - In an article by Chris Elliott, the Cambridge News [page 2] reports today: "Help us improve train services say rail chiefs". The newspaper says: Govia Thameslink Railway has launched a public consultation exercise on what it calls the “biggest timetable shake-up in a generation.... On the Great Northern route [which includes King's Lynn-King's Cross Fen Line trains] the rail operator says ... next year [2017 - in advance of the main 2018 changes][it] aims to double the frequency of services from Ely, with air-conditioned trains." The Cambridge News states: "Exact timings of trains in 2018 have not yet been published, but GTR says it will be boosting capacity and wants to know what services people are keen to see" and goes on to quote Phil Hutchinson, head of timetable development and consultation for GTR, as saying: “We are proposing a complete redesign of the timetable by looking at which journeys are most important to passengers. ... Operationally, each route would be self-contained so that if a problem occurs it does not affect other routes."

Monday 19 September 2016 - The Evening Standard reports today: "Finally rail bosses announce major shake-up of London commuter trains... but it won't arrive until 2018".

Monday 19 September 2016 - GTR's statement regarding the 2018 timetable consultation is to be found here. The full consultation document contains a number of questions, which can be answered using GTR's survey response form. Proposals for Great Northern Mainline, which includes Route GN1 Kings Lynn-Ely-Cambridge-London Kings Cross, are summarised in Information sheet 2. GTR has also published a station-by-station comparison chart. Please also see news item below, dated Thursday 15 September 2016 (the date the consultation formally started).

Monday 19 September 2016 - We have today written to Network Rail to advise them: "that, having taken into consideration the amendments made since the first round of consultation, and noting that you have withdrawn the proposal to close C23 Adelaide crossing, the Association SUPPORTS Network Rail's plans for the closure/alteration of the following 15 crossings on the King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross route: C35 Ballast Pit, C06 Barrington Road, C28 Black Horse Drove, C01 Chittering, C25 Clayway [Littleport], C24 Cross Keys, C34 Fysons, C33 Jack O'Tell (Adam's Crossing), C31 Littleport station, C02 Nairn's No 117, C04 No 20 [Meldreth], C07 No 37 [Harston], C26 Poplar Drove, C03 West River Bridge, C27 Willow Row/Willow Road. Given that the proposal at C31 Littleport station would greatly help in accommodating platform lengthening works currently being considered as part of NR's Cambridge-King's Lynn 8-car scheme work, we urge that the level crossing proposal for Littleport station be given high priority." We also add the following comments in respect of the Littleport station proposal: In respect of C31 Littleport station [barrow crossing]: “we suggest an early involvement of the Highway Authority (Cambridgeshire County Council) if this has not already commenced, that the proposal is non-prejudicial to any longer-term (unfunded) multi-story car park with footbridge schemes, that additional walking time will be required for car park users, that there is a need to deal with the flooding issue in the subway, that the proposed ramp and the subway should be well-lit, and that there will be a need for an additional ticket machine and card reader for the southbound platform. As stated above, we have noted the significance of this proposal in accommodating platform lengthening works currently being considered as part of NR's Cambridge to King's Lynn 8-car scheme [page 34] development and we urge that the C31 Littleport station proposals be given high priority.”

Thursday 15 September 2016 - Govia Thameslink Railway launches a three-month consultation on the 2018 Great Northern timetable today. A similar consultation has also been launched for GTR's Gatwick Express, Southern, and Thameslink services and some of the documentation covers all four GTR brands. GTR says: the consultation" sets out proposed changes to the timetable which will be operated by GTR in 2018 following completion of the Thameslink Programme. ... This consultation will be the earliest a train operator has released proposals in advance of the planned changes allowing sufficient time for meaningful and on-going engagement."

We welcome this opportunity for rail users to become involved in the detailed planning of this major timetable change and will advise members as to what the implications are for their own Fen Line station in due course, following our detailed scrutiny and analysis of GTR's proposals. Please check the Members' Section from time to time. The consultation closes at 17:00 on Thursday 8 December 2016. GTR has provided a survey response form which they ask individuals to use in making their own responses. We invite members to send a copy of their responses to us or to contact us directly, by email or in writing, about any issues and concerns they may have. It would be very helpful to receive members' communications before Saturday 22 October 2016, the date of the next Committee Meeting. There will also be an opportunity to discuss GTR's proposals at the Annual General Meeting, to be held on Saturday 19 November 2016 at King's Lynn, and we will submit our formal, finalised response to GTR following that meeting.

The full timetable consultation document shows proposed service patterns and structures for Mondays to Fridays between 0700 and 2200. In the case of the Fen Line, '0700 to 2200' refers to arrival times at and departure times from Kings Cross. Following their analysis of the responses to this three month consultation, GTR will launch a second stage consultation with greater information and timetable details.

Fen Line King's Lynn-Ely-Cambridge-Kings Cross services will be known as Great Northern Mainline Route 1. GTR has also issued a summary information leaflet summary information sheet for Great Northern Mainline services. For individual stations please refer to GTR's station by station comparison chart.

There will be an opportunity to discuss the proposals with GTR timetable planning staff at Cambridge and at King's Cross 'Meet the Manager' events - check GTR website or station posters for details.

Wednesday 24 August 2016 -The Department for Transport today confirms Abellio as operator of the new East Anglia Rail Franchise. The new franchise will start on Sunday 16 October 2016 and includes trains running to and from Liverpool Street, as well as Norwich-Ely-Cambridge services (many of the latter are to be extended to Stansted Airport). There is to be a doubling of the Peterborough to Ipswich service (via Ely) to hourly. The East Anglia franchise does not include the Kings Lynn-Kings Cross 'Great Northern' services operated by Govia Thameslink Railway.

Tuesday 23 August 2016 - Network Rail is moving to the second stage of its consultation exercise regarding proposals for changes to various crossings in Cambridgeshire including those used by Fen Line King's Lynn-King's Cross trains. See news item dated Saturday 11 June 2016 to see the Association's support for these crossing proposals. Since the first round of consultation, Network Rail has withdrawn its proposals to close crossing C23 Adelaide footpath crossing. A list of the current proposals for Cambridgeshire can be found here. Network Rail will be holding a public exhibition at Cambridge on Thursday 8 September 2016 (2pm to 7pm) and another at Littleport on Monday 12 September 2016 (2pm to 6.30pm).

Friday 5 August 2016 - "Plan promises £70m shot in the arm to revitalise region " reports the Cambridge News today [pages 4/5]. "The package of measures planned by the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough (GCGP) local enterprise partnership would help build new roads, railways and training centres, to help foster economic growth across the region. Some of the schemes currently being considered for investment include vital capacity improvements to enable the Ely North Rail Junction to come forward... The so-called growth deal is also earmarked to dovetail with other projects such as devolution and the City Deal." The Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP is also home to more national transport studies than any other, [including East Coast Main Line Study, East West rail between Cambridge and Oxford, Ely North Junction, new railway stations at Soham and in the south of Cambridge/Bio-medical Campus, Reopening the Wisbech to March railway line, and the West Anglia Main Line Improvements Taskforce] but the newspaper reports the LEP as noting "delays in the new [East Anglia] rail franchise announcement, key rail improvements moved back post-2019, and other congested routes are concerns."

The Cambridge News displays a diagram from the LEP document 'Growth Deal Three' [page 7] which sets out proposed new major housing developments. This includes 8,500 new houses at Waterbeach, 3,000 new houses at Ely, 2,700 new houses at Downham Market, and 7,500 new houses at King's Lynn - all places with Fen Line stations.

Thursday 4 August 2016 - We have today published The Fenman issue 2016 no 2 and members with email subscriptions should have received their copies today; please let us know if this is not the case. Postal members' copies have now been posted and should arrive shortly; again, please advise us if you do not receive your copy in the next few days. A copy of the latest issue has been posted in the Members' section of the website.

Thursday 21 July 2016 - The Evening Standard website reports: Commuting along the Fen line: Why record numbers of London homebuyers are heading to Downham" - Norfolk's 'gingerbread town.'" The paper continues: "An explosion in the number of people moving out of London and its immediate hinterland and venturing into the Fens has prompted plans to upgrade commuter services between the capital, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. This autumn Govia Thameslink Railway, which runs the service between King's Cross and King's Lynn known as the Fen Line, will launch a consultation on proposals that include introducing new wi-fi-enabled trains capable of running at 110 miles per hour. It will also consider increasing the frequency of London trains to every half hour. And when Cambridge North station is opened in May next year Fen Line services could be diverted through the new station, speeding up commuter times." The item quotes FLUA Secretary Andy Tyler: "More and more people are moving into the Fen Line area," explains Andy Tyler, secretary of the Fen Line Users Association. "I should think they are moving further out from London because of the high property prices, and the main grumble and grouse they have is overcrowding. What I hear all the time is people saying they are treated like cattle. I think that is a bigger issue than journey time for most people." Ed Bennett, valuer at Wilson & Betts estate agents, told the ES: "Bennett says around a third of buyers moving into Downham, and into nearby towns like Watlington, are coming out of London and are not overly concerned by the journey time. For the money that they can save on property they are not that bothered. They can always work on the train. As prices rise in London people are looking further along the train line." The Evening Standard concludes: "Exactly when the proposed improvements will materialise is uncertain, and Tyler says 'constant procrastination' over how to upgrade the service was another reason for passenger unrest. A spokesman for Govia confirms that a public consultation on the plans will take place later in the year." [The Association is keen to see faster journey times, but the current emphasis of members' concerns is on overcrowding]. The Evening Standard story appeared yesterday in the print edition of the paper, in an article entitled "Going flat out for the Fens" by Ruth Bloomfield.

Friday 17 June 2016 - The proposed Norfolk and Suffolk devolution agreement, published today, contains the following text: "The Government recognises that Ely North Junction area capacity improvements provide a key opportunity to open up East Anglia and deliver significant economic value and improve connectivity. Government will work with local stakeholders and Network Rail to deliver the required upgrade commencing work in Control Period 6 (2019-24)" [paragraph 32] and "The Government will also continue to assist the West Anglia Main Line Task Force as it develops a business case for improving the rail corridor between Kings Lynn and London Kings Cross via Cambridge" [paragraph 33]. The East Anglia devolution website contains more details of the proposed devolution.

Friday 17 June 2016 - The devolution proposal for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, published today contains the following text: "We recognise that Ely North Junction scheme area capacity improvements provide a key opportunity to open up East Anglia and deliver significant economic value and improve connectivity. Government will work with local stakeholders and Network Rail to deliver the required upgrade commencing work in Control Period 6 (2019-24)" [paragraph 26] and "31. In order to maximise the important connections Cambridgeshire and Peterborough has in all directions, and its position as a cross roads of Eastern England, Government commits to work towards replacing rolling stock as part of the new Greater Anglia franchise. Government also commits to assist the West Anglia Main Line Task Force as it develops a business case for improving the rail corridor between Kings Lynn and London via Cambridge."

[This latter wording is different to that of paragraph 33 of the proposed Norfolk and Suffolk devolution deal, which states that the rail corridor is "between Kings Lynn and London Kings Cross via Cambridge" - i.e. the King's Cross route is specifically identified in the proposal covering Norfolk. The wording for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough necessarily allows for the West Anglia Task Force continue its existing work in developing the Cambridge-London Liverpool Street route. See news item below dated Friday 18 March 2016 for a detailed comparison of fastest London to Cambridge train times (May 2016 timetable) which shows that the fastest journey from King's Cross is 46 minutes, compared to a fastest time from Liverpool Street of 65 minutes].

Paragraph 31 of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough devolution proposal also says: "The Combined Authority will make the case for improvements to the Thameslink Great Northern Franchise, and improvements to create a parkway station for Peterborough at Whittlesea...." [paragraph 31]. The East Anglia devolution website contains more details of the proposed devolution.

Tuesday 31 May 2016 - Network Rail creates 'virtual route' to provide better service for freight and national passenger operators, to become responsible for major issues which cross NR Route [region] boundaries. This applies particularly to freight companies, e.g. those running on the Felixstowe-Midlands/North route through Ely including Ely North Junction, and to 'national' passenger train operators, such as Cross-Country, which also operates through the Ely area. We raised concerns with cross-boundary issues potentially affecting GTR Thameslink Great Northern services [see news item dated Thursday 19 May 2016] and we are uncertain as to whether the new 'virtual' route (which is to be led by Paul McMahon, who has been appointed by NR as its Managing Director for Freight and National Passenger Operators) will include Govia Thameslink Railway operations in its scope. GTR currently runs services in five of Network Rail's eight geographically-based Routes: Anglia, London North Eastern & East Midlands, London North Western, South East, and Wessex. Network Rail's Route geography is shown here.

Thursday 26 May 2016 - The Department of Transport has published revised franchise details for Govia Thameslink Railway, in conjunction with the Govia Thameslink remedial plan dated 12 February 2016 (the latter addresses issues which had arisen on non-Great Northern parts of GTR). The revised documents include the Govia Thameslink franchise agreement execution version and the Train Service requirements (dated December 2015). The latter includes the "half-hourly" commitment for King's Cross-King's Lynn services from May 2017 (pages 362-365 of 397 refer). We have updated our summary of the Fen Line "half-hourly" government service requirement to source this from the DfT's December 2015 Train Service Requirements document.

Thursday 19 May 2016 - ORR, the Office of Rail and Road has today published its first major consultation on the 2018 periodic review process, which will determine rail spending/investment priorities for Control Period 6 (CP6, 2019-2024). The consultation document outlines the proposed way forward, taking on board recent major changes; the consultation closes on Wednesday 10 August 2016.

The ORR document makes reference, inter alia, to the Hendy Review, saying [page 4]: "As a result of the Hendy review, there has been a significant change of several billion pounds to planned enhancement work, some of which has now moved from control period 5 (CP5, 2014-2019). There are now around £9.5bn of enhancements planned for control period 6 (CP6, likely to be 2019 to 2024). When combined with planned asset sales - which would reduce future income streams e.g. from property rents) over CP6 - and uncertainty about the performance and efficiency levels that Network Rail can achieve by the end of CP5, this may imply some tough choices." Along with MPs, Councils, LEPs and local business communities, we are concerned that the "unfinished business" of CP5, including the Government July 2012 HLOS "Named Scheme" of Ely North Junction and the promised "half hourly" King's Lynn-King's Cross service, specified by government contract to be started in May 2017, are honoured with the minimum delay.

The consultation document also states: "We propose to regulate at a route-level, supporting both the changes being made by Network Rail and a greater focus by routes on the needs of their customers." Soon to mark a continuity of a quarter-century, the successful King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross service crosses the internal Network Rail administrative/organisational boundary between its Anglia Route ["region"] and its London North Eastern Route ["region"] at Meldreth, just east of Royston (a point based on Nineteenth Century railway company ownership boundaries). On behalf of the ultimate consumer, the fare-paying rail passenger (many of whom have based home and employment location decisions on the integrity of the King's Lynn-King's Cross service) we have spent much time stressing to the railway industry and to politicians the need for the end users' interests to take precedence over internal administrative/organisational considerations. We therefore note that the ORR consultation document also states [page 4]: "Alongside this shift towards routes, we propose to adopt a tailored approach to the regulation of Network Rail's system operator role: its timetabling, capacity management, analysis and long-term planning functions. This would support it in making improvements to achieve better use of the network and also protect the ability of train operators to move passengers and freight across route boundaries."

We will scrutinise and report on events as they unfold, with the aim of continuing to represent passenger users of the King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross rail service.

Thursday 12 May 2016 - The Office of Rail and Road has today issued its decision on long distance access rights for the East Coast Main Line. The ORR says: "the result is that we have approved the applications from Virgin Trains East Coast and from FirstGroup. We have not approved applications from the Great North Eastern Railway Company Limited (GNER)." Capacity on the East Coast Main Line for Great Northern Outer Suburban services, such as Kings Cross-Kings Lynn, and for future Thameslink services, such as Brighton-Cambridge, is not in dispute, though we continue to maintain our monitoring of the ORR's work.

Thursday 5 May 2016 - Network Rail replies to Gareth Wright's Freedom of Information request concerning Waterbeach services (see news item dated 13 April below). The company states: "The timetable specification for services between Waterbeach to Cambridge / London is still under discussion and is yet to be confirmed. This information will be available in December 2016 when the May 2017 subsidiary timetable is published. I have been advised that the current level of twice hourly of service will not decrease. The specification which will determine the final journey time is still in the process of being agreed. This information will also be available December 2016 when the May 2017 subsidiary timetable is published."

Tuesday 3 May 2016 - "We've also discovered the long running saga over improvements to train services to and from King's Lynn have hit yet another delay. Last year Great Northern Trains promised newer rolling stock on the Fen Line "this summer" which was welcomed with caution. However in the last few days it's been announced the new carriages won't appear on our services until December" writes local radio station KLFM96.7's News Editor Ross Birkenshaw in the Lynn News today.

Friday 29 April 2016 - "'We want improvements to West Norfolk's Rail link too', government officials insist" reports the Lynn News. The DfT has issued a statement following criticism from two senior business users, saying "We continue to work with Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway to improve services and create more capacity on the Cambridge to King's Lynn corridor. We are clear that this will include upgrading Ely North Junction." The newspaper says: there is growing concern about when the long-awaited half-hourly service, which was due to begin in May next year, and proposals to allow longer trains to run between Lynn and Cambridge will actually start. However, the DfT insists that the project will still take place and other schemes to increase capacity in the meantime are being developed."

Friday 29 April 2016 - Today's Lynn News carries the full text of the letter from local business leaders Ben Colson and Darren Taylor about delays to the upgrading of the King's Lynn-King's Cross rail service. In their letter, they say: "The commitment to extra capacity and half -hourly trains is at best shallow and grudging, and now delayed, despite the commitment by Government and the train operator to deliver from next year, and the so-called new trains are not fit for purpose for trip lengths of 100 miles. We fear that we are being deliberately misled by the Department for Transport and the rail industry, and it is time that they address the issue openly with us, for it is the economy in this area and local businesses that suffer from all this uncertainty."

Friday 22 April 2016 - "Rail improvement hopes are dashed once more" writes David Bale in today's Eastern Daily Press [page 17]. "Transport bosses have dashed hopes that extra funding would be provided for a crucial study holding up more twice-hourly train services between King's Lynn and Cambridge and Norwich and Cambridge at the Ely junction" says the paper. While the Department for Transport has pledged to support the work being done by local councils and local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) to progress the study, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said in a letter to Ms Truss that there was 'no prospect' of the government or Network Rail providing funding for the improvements before 2019." The EDP says: "South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss held a rail summit in February in Downham Market with fellow MPs and Network Rail, and campaigners agreed to seek to secure funding for a development study into the scheme as early as possible to make sure that work will be ready to start in 2019."

Thursday 21 April 2016 - "Transport Secretary: Prioritising level crossing work over Ely North Junction upgrade has benefits" says Jordan Day's article in the Ely News today. The newspaper continues: "By doubling the junction, which is located at Queen Adelaide, it would allow trains to run every half hour from Cambridge to King's Lynn and Norwich - something which rail groups have been campaigning for years. ... The Minister added: 'I warmly welcome the commitment of local authorities, LEPs and other stakeholders to seek to secure funding for further development work during control period 5 (2014-2019). My department and Network Rail will do everything possible to support this and work in partnership with local stakeholders.'"

Thursday 21 April 2016 - South West Norfolk MP and Cabinet member Elizabeth Truss has issued a statement Department for Transport to support development work on Ely North rail junction": "Department for Transport to support development work on Ely North rail junction" today. This follows receipt of a letter from Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport. In his letter, the Secretary of State says: "I understand the frustration that the delays to Ely North Junction improvements will cause to customers, which we very much regret. However, allow me to make clear that these major works are only being delayed, not cancelled. In addition, the retiming of the works will allow for Better coordination and integration of safety critical level crossing works In the Ely area. As such, I am confident that the scheme to be delivered in Control Period 6 (2019-2024) will be of greater overall benefit to users." Elizabeth Truss says: "I am extremely pleased that the Department for Transport recognises that Ely North rail junction is key in helping drive forward the economic growth in the eastern region. During the rail summit I held in February in Downham Market with fellow MPs, Network Rail said that a development study needed to be done to re-configure the junction and road layout. I am therefore pleased the Transport Secretary has committed to supporting this work so that the scheme can be progressed in Control Period 6. I will be having further meetings with Network Rail and Department for Transport officials to monitor progress."

Thursday 14 April 2016 - "Measures to reduce overcrowding on trains to and from West Norfolk are a 'high priority' for industry bosses, according to a new report" reveals the Lynn News today. The paper continues: "Attention has focused on the need for longer and more frequent trains following last autumn's announcement that work on the long-awaited upgrade of the Ely north junction will not begin for at least another three years. ... The new Anglia Route Study, compiled by Network Rail, highlights the ongoing work to find ways of allowing eight-coach trains to run between Lynn and Cambridge, instead of the current four-coach units. The document said: 'The industry, funders and local stakeholders are in agreement that this is a high priority.'" FLUA Secretary Andy Tyler told the Lynn News: "Many peak services are grossly overcrowded. Longer trains can't come too soon. We urge all speed in finding a cost-effective method." The article also says: "The study also details the work being undertaken to enable two passenger trains an hour to run more often at non-peak times" and quotes FLUA chairman Colin Sampson who, in welcoming a pledge contained in the region's draft devolution agreement, published last month, for the government to assist the development of a business case for improvements to services between Lynn, Cambridge and London, says: "We look forward to seeing a business case for infrastructure improvements." [The Anglia Route Study's findings are discussed, along with other aspects of railway planning and financing, in our recently published Background Note here].

Wednesday 13 April 2016 - Gareth Wright has submitted the following Freedom of Information request to Network Rail:

"Dear Network Rail Limited,

"Waterbeach village in Cambridgeshire currently has a train service into London and Cambridge twice an hour morning an evening and a regular service at weekends and off peak. The journey time for the quickest trains is 1 hour 1 minute. The maximum train length of trains stopping at Waterbeach station is 4 carriages due to platform length at this station and other stations further up to Kings Lynn.

"A new train station, Cambridge North, at Chesterton Cambridge, is due to open in May 2017. This will take trains of up to 12 carriages in length and will also provide services into London.

"Can Network Rail confirm please if services will change from Waterbeach to Cambridge/London once the new station is open? Will there still be a twice hourly service into Cambridge and London from Waterbeach and will a journey time of 1hr 1min still be offered?"

Currently waiting for a response from Network Rail Limited, they must respond promptly and normally no later than 12 May 2016.

Sunday 10 April 2016 - The Association has issued a Statement, which reads:

Network Rail published their Anglia Route Study document and supporting material on 24 March 2016. This is our response.

We applaud the initiative taken by MPs, Councils and Local Enterprise Partnerships in kick-starting a Feasibility Study for the Ely area in conjunction with Government and Network Rail now. Let's get the preparatory planning and design work under way and hit the ground running in 2019:

"Ely North Junction Capacity Improvements: Following the review of enhancements undertaken by Sir Peter Hendy, this scheme has been deferred to CP 6 [2019-2024]" Anglia Route Study, page 35.

"Its very good news that the rail industry is now pragmatically examining how off-peak gaps (maybe not all) can be filled with 2 trains per hour from King's Lynn in the current funding period [2014-2019]:

"Network Rail is working with industry partners to understand how any of the off-peak gaps in service between King's Lynn and Cambridge can be filled with a 2tph [2 trains per hour] pattern in CP5 [2014-2019]." Anglia Route Study, page 69.

Many peak services are grossly overcrowded and that's before Cambridge North station opens next year. Longer trains can't come too soon. We urge all speed in finding a cost-effective method:

"An option is currently being developed which examines lengthening services on the Kings Lynn to Cambridge section [of Kings Cross trains] to eight carriages. ... There is peak crowding on these services particularly between Ely and Cambridge. ... lengthening of services will provide additional on-train capacity to support additional calls, such as at Cambridge North station. The industry, funders and local stakeholders are in agreement that this is a high priority. ... further work is required on the development of infrastructure options to understand if costs can be reduced." Anglia Route Study, pages 68 and 69.

And in response to a related development (first publicised in the draft East Anglia Devolution Agreement, around the same time as the Anglia Route Study) we say:

We're also pleased to see government is to continue assisting the West Anglia Taskforce in developing the business case for improvements to the Kings Lynn-London Kings Cross rail corridor.

"The Government will also continue to assist the West Anglia Main Line Task Force as it develops a business case for improving the rail corridor between Kings Lynn and London Kings Cross via Cambridge." [Paragraph 33, draft East Anglia Devolution Agreement]

We have also published today a Background Note about the Anglia Route Study and railway financing and planning.

Friday 25 March 2016 - Today's Lynn news features "£1.1million level crossing improvement at Downham Market " [Page 37]. Route managing director for Anglia Richard Schofield told the paper he was pleased with the new safety measures, saying "These improvements are an essential part of Network Rail's Railway Upgrade Plan to provide a safe, reliable and efficient railway. The extra safety measures have been installed to offer additional protection for pedestrians and motorists. I'd like to thank everyone for their patience while we carried out the works to deliver a safer railway for Downham."

Thursday 24 March 2016 - Network Rail has published its finalised Anglia Route Study today. Also available is a Network Rail statement entitled, "Network Rail sets out options to enable faster and more frequent journeys for the East of England", an Introduction, a Summary and a set of consultation responses to the original Route Study document. Network Rail has also today published its East Midlands Route Study today. We will be issuing a Statement, but first need to study several hundreds of pages of material and to consult other stakeholders concerned about the future of the King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross service and the earliest delivery of the government's contracted 'half-hourly' (2 tph with gaps for up to 2 freight trains) Kings Lynn-Kings Cross service, Mondays to Saturdays.

Thursday 24 March 2016 - In commenting on Network Rail's Anglia Route Study as it affects the southern part of the West Anglia Main Line [Cambridge to London Liverpool Street], the London Stansted Cambridge Consortium (LSCC) says: "The Study also appears to have much more positive support for Cambridge's growth, including the new station at Addenbrooke's [potential Cambridge Biomedical Campus station]."

Tuesday 22 March 2016 - Upgrade work at Downham Market station level crossing costing £1.1m has been completed this week. Installation of new equipment that activates the barriers and lights protecting crossing users if a train overshoots the station was part of the work, which also includes new full barriers and road alterations to create a wider footway.

Friday 18 March 2016 - Virgin Trains East Coast today launches its first 125 mph "Azuma" train and announces the creation of a cross-industry working group, including Network Rail, to investigate the potential for the East Coast route to enable their operation at 140mph. In 2006 this type of train, previously known as Super Express Train or Intercity Express Train (IEP), was proposed by the government to run on King's Cross-King's Lynn services and (King's Cross)-Hitchin-King's Lynn is included as a [potential] East Coast IEP "core route" in current documentation - see here and here - and see also news item dated Wednesday 15 April 2015. However, there are no known current plans to use this type of train on the Fen Line.

Friday 18 March 2016 - Following the involvement of the West Anglia Taskforce in delivering improvements to the Kings Lynn-Kings Cross service, we have today sent a copy of our document Linking homes and jobs needs more and longer trains to the Taskforce as evidence. Backed by the Greater London Authority, amongst its other objectives, the West Anglia Taskforce is involved in building a case for improvements to the Cambridge-Liverpool and Stansted Airport-Liverpool Street routes; more background details are available here.

The London Stansted Cambridge Corridor (LSCC) Growth Commission, which also supports the West Anglia Taskforce, has published Interim findings, setting out its main themes (and also including the possibility of a new station at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus [Addenbrooke's/'Cambridge South' - something we support]. Further information on Taskforce Growth Pan work (March 2016) is available here and here. The LSCC is holding a West Anglia workshop on 5 April 2016.

The West Anglia Taskforce is also supported by, inter alia, the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP.

It has long been our policy to seek replacement of the handful of peak only Kings Lynn-Liverpool Street trains by through Kings Lynn-Kings Cross trains to obviate fragile connections; such Kings Cross trains are required by the Half-hourly commitment - the DfT Train Service Requirement. It is unlikely that, as well as the promised Kings Cross trains, the Liverpool Street trains could also continue to run over the congested single-line sections north of Littleport. In that eventuality, we would seek the Liverpool Street trains to continue running from and to Ely.

The fastest journey time between Liverpool Street and Cambridge (May 2016 timetable) is 65 minutes (0803 and 0833 Liverpool Street-Cambridge services) whereas the fastest transit between Kings Cross and Cambridge is 46 minutes (0844, 0944, 1044, 1144, 1244, 1344, 1444, 1544 Kings Cross-Kings Lynn services). The Taskforce is pressing for a number of growth-orientated infrastructure improvements, which would mean, inter alia, "taking up to seven minutes off journey times from Cambridge to London [Liverpool Street] ..."

Thursday 17 March 2016 - The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport has welcomed Nicola Shaw's report of the future of Network Rail today: it "counsels that the way the proposals are implemented would be fundamental to the continued success of rail freight and of cross boundary passenger services. ... Daniel Parker-Klein, Head of Policy, CILT said: 'We fully support the objective to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of Network Rail and the further devolution of accountability to operate, maintain and renew infrastructure to Routes should be an effective way of achieving this. It is, however, essential that implementation of the new structure protects the interests of cross boundary services and their customers. For instance, the introduction of a North Route - which we endorse - would mean that all East Coast and West Coast Main Line Inter City services will traverse two and, in some cases, three Routes. The ability to run across all Routes in a coordinated manner is a significant issue for passenger service operation and is crucial for freight." [This issue is of relevance to us - Fen Line services operate over NR Anglia Route [Region] and NR London North Eastern & East Midlands Route [Region] during their journeys from King's Lynn to King's Cross (they cross NR's administrative boundary between Meldreth and Royston) and it is essential that planning for improvements to these services, including the committed and contracted "half-hourly" King's Lynn-King's Cross service, is continued in a coherent manner. This cross boundary issue gives context to yesterday's statement that "The Government will also continue to assist the West Anglia Main Line Task Force as it develops a business case for improving the rail corridor between Kings Lynn and London Kings Cross via Cambridge"].

Thursday 17 March 2016 - Reporting on reactions to the proposed combined authority for Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, the Lynn News says of the draft Agreement document: "... it pledges to help make the case for improvements to the rail link from Lynn to Cambridge and London." [Page 33 of the draft Agreement states: "The Government will also continue to assist the West Anglia Main Line Task Force as it develops a business case for improving the rail corridor between Kings Lynn and London Kings Cross via Cambridge."]

Wednesday 16 March 2016 - The government publishes a signed copy of The East Anglia Devolution Agreement today. This states, inter alia, "The Government will also continue to assist the West Anglia Main Line Task Force as it develops a business case for improving the rail corridor between Kings Lynn and London Kings Cross via Cambridge [Paragraph 33]." The Agreement, which has to be approved by all 22 councils involved, looks towards delivering "A step change infrastructure delivery with an integrated approach to planning of road, rail and digital connectivity alongside land for new housing and business" and says "Improvements to road and rail infrastructure and using smart ticketing will make it easier for residents to participate fully in the economy across transport modes [page 9]."

Wednesday 16 March 2016 - The government publishes the Shaw Report into the Future Shape and Financing of Network Rail - the Recommendations today. The Report recommends, inter alia, placing the needs of passengers at the heart of rail infrastructure management, deeper route [Network Rail regions] devolution, clarifying the role of government in the railway and Network Rail, and planning the railway based on passenger (and freight) needs. The report states: "Of course, routes cannot - and should not - be expected to operate autonomously in isolation from each other. The reality of the railway network is that traffic frequently crosses artificial route boundaries and those managing the infrastructure must collaborate accordingly to allow this to happen seamlessly." [Fen Line Kings Lynn-Kings Cross services operate over NR's Anglia and London North Eastern Routes (the boundary is just north of Royston) and the proposed Cambridge-Tattenham Corner/Brighton services will additionally operate over NR's Sussex Route from 2019. The Shaw Report stresses the need for co-ordination in the London area (paragraph R3.32) and makes reference to the DfT/TfL 'A New Approach to Passenger Rail Services in London and the South East' which would see the Department for Transport retaining control over outer-suburban services, including Kings Lynn-Kings Cross and future Cambridge-Tattenham Corner/Brighton routes (paragraph R3.9). A summary version of the Shaw Report is available here].

Tuesday 15 March 2016 - Allister Webb, News Editor of the Lynn News, writes in today's paper: "'Get on with upgrade work', says rail group: 'Incredulity over half-hour train commitment delays.'" The article [page 4] continues: "The comments are contained in an official response [Linking homes to jobs needs more and longer trains], published yesterday, from the Fen Line Users' Association (FLUA) to two consultations about the future of rail services in the region. And, as passenger demand continues to rise, the group has called for longer, half-hourly trains to be brought into service as soon as possible... the group reserved its strongest criticism for the delay in preparing for the introduction of a twice-hourly service to and from Lynn. The contract with the current operator, Great Northern, which began in the autumn of 2014, requires half-hourly trains to run from May next year. But the group said: 'There is a large amount of incredulity as to how such a significant political commitment could have been made and then subsequently deemed to be probably undeliverable within a reasonable time span, given that government not only specifies the Govia Thameslink Railway [Great Northern] management contract but also owns the infrastructure delivery agency, Network Rail. We urge that all methods of full or at least partial implementation, including potential timetabling solutions, are investigated as a matter of great urgency.' ... As well as supporting eight-coach services, FLUA has also signalled its backing for a power supply upgrade that would be necessary to enable longer trains to run more frequently. And [FLUA Secretary] Mr Tyler said they do not want to get any more 'nasty surprises' from industry bosses. He added: 'We want to see a timescale for the works necessary to achieve the promised half-hourly service, and so we can see that all eyes are firmly on the ball.'"

Monday 14 March 2016 - We publish today our 16 page document Linking homes and jobs needs more and longer trains. This is our combined response to 'Network Rail's Investment Programme - the Hendy Report Consultation' and to 'A New Approach to Rail Passenger Services in London and the South East'. We would like to gratefully thank our members and other persons and organisations who took part in the compilation of our responses to these two consultations. Though our own consultation is now closed, the DfT's consultations do not close until Friday 18 March 2016 and members may still response directly to the DfT until then - see news item dated Monday 15 February 2016.

Our summary on page 2 of the document states:"Hendy's not all bad news, but it's not what was promised either. So under the new circumstances, we say:

"Deal with the crowds

"Run 8-car King's Lynn-King's Cross trains (maintaining existing stopping patterns where appropriate) in the morning and evening peaks (i.e. in both the London peaks and the Cambridge peaks) ASAP. Remove those remaining fragile connections at Cambridge by running all our trains direct to King’s Cross. Fill the big gap in the afternoon high peak at Cambridge with a King’s Lynn train leaving Cambridge about 1710-1715 and extend the 1714 King’s Cross-Ely to King’s Lynn.

"Stop where the jobs are

"Make all Fen Line trains call at Cambridge North from May 2017 and speed up a Cambridge Biomedical Campus station (Cambridge South).

"Start the necessarily lengthy planning process now

"Continue work on the feasibility and planning stages of the delayed Ely North Junction project and all associated works and projects (including level crossings), so as to hit the ground running by the time we reach 2019, the start of the new railway funding period, CP6.

"No more nasty surprises

"Publish the timetable of works necessary to achieve the quickest implementation of the full half-hourly King’s Lynn-King’s Cross service, as promised contractually for 2017 – on a building block by building block basis – and stick to it, making sure eyes are firmly kept on the ball."

Sunday 6 March 2016 - We have added three documents to the website:

More and longer trains - background

More and longer trains - the statistics and analysis

Half-hourly commitment - the DfT Train Service Requirement

These will be used to inform our response to the DfT Hendy Report and 'A New Approach' consultations. Members are reminded that any comments they may have on these consultations, along with supporting reasoning, should be received by Andy Tyler, Secretary by 5 pm on Friday 11 March 2016 (communications by email preferred, please). Direct comments to the DfT must be received by them by Friday 18 March 2016.

Wednesday 2 March 2016 - We have today published The Fenman issue 2016 no 1 and members with email subscriptions should have received their copies today; please let us know if this is not the case. Postal members' copies have been posted today and should arrive shortly; again, please advise us if you do not receive your copy in the next few days. A copy has been placed in the Members' section. This issue covers the Cambridge to King's Lynn 8-car project and the delayed Ely North Junction scheme, as we seek to compile our formal responses to the DfT's consultations on 'Network Rail's Investment Programme - The Hendy Report Consultation' (and the supporting draft updated Network Rail Enhancements Delivery Plan) and 'A New Approach to Rail Passenger Services in London and the South East', we invite members to let us know their views on these government consultations, along with supporting reasons for these views, and we will take everything received from members into account before sending our formal responses to the DfT. Please note that we have extended our deadline for receiving such comments until 5 pm on Friday 11 March 2016. All communications, preferably by email please, to Andy Tyler, Secretary. Individual members may, of course, comment to the Department for Transport directly before their consultations close on Friday 18 March 2016. We draw members attention in particular to the following draft EDP schemes: Project CashDfT006 - Cambridge North New station [page 160]; Project A002 - Anglia Traction Power Supply Upgrade [page 29]; Project A006 - Kings Lynn-Cambridge 8-car [page 35] (all three projects recommended for implementation in CP5 [2014-2019]) and to Project A001 Ely North Junction Capacity Improvement [page 28]; Project IFDfT004 Ely to Soham Doubling [page 166]; and Project LNE009 Stevenage Turnback [page 70] (these three these projects are recommended to be deferred until CP6 [2019-2024]).

1 DfT Hendy Report consultation and draft updated Network Rail Enhancements Delivery Plan:

We are supportive of the following schemes being implemented in CP5: Project CashDfT006 Cambridge North station (access to jobs); Project A002 Anglia Traction Power Supply Upgrade (facilitate more and longer Fen Line trains to/from King's Lynn); Project A006 - Kings Lynn-Cambridge 8-car (dealing with the present day gross overcrowding north of Cambridge on trains in the peaks).

We are concerned about the effect deferring projects is likely to have on Fen Line services (Project LNE009 Stevenage Turnback deferment (service reliability, bearing in mind potential for rapidly-propagating knock-on effects over the two single-line sections); Project A001 Ely North Junction deferment (honouring of "half-hourly" King's Lynn-King's Cross service commitment); and Project IFDfT004 Ely to Soham doubling deferment (longer-term capacity issues in the Ely area).

2 'A New Approach to Passenger Services in London and the South East':

We are broadly supportive of the approach set out in 'A New Approach to Passenger Services in London and the South East' provided the proposed safeguards for outer suburban services [Kings Lynn-Kings Cross Fen Line trains are either - the majority - 'Cambridge Express' or 'Great Northern Outer' services] are put in place and adhered to.

Tuesday 1 March 2016 - "MPs to press rail upgrade case to government" reports the Lynn News today. The newspaper goes on to say "further talks will take place today with ministers in a bid to attract government support." The full page article [page 6] reports "Rail line feasibility study 'could cost £5m' - Council and business chiefs pledge financial support." Allister Webb, News Editor of the Lynn News, also reveals "Progress, but no date, for longer trains" reporting Elizabeth Truss MP as being "encouraged by what she had heard [at last Friday's Downham Market Rail Summit meeting] despite the lack of a timetable." Rail officials had "previously indicated that extended services, made up of eight coaches instead of the current four, would be introduced at some point this year." The Lynn News points out that some longer units do run to King's Lynn at the moment, but "they do not stop at every station because the platforms [at Watlington, Littleport and Waterbeach] are too short."

Monday 29 February 2016 - Cambridgeshire County Council is consulting on its draft Transport Strategy for East Cambridgeshire. The draft transport strategy document , consultation on which is open until Friday 8 April 2016, points out that East Cambridgeshire remains "the fastest growing in Cambridgeshire." Figure 3 (page 10) in the document, which covers the area from Littleport to Cambridge itself, shows planned employment growth in Ely, the area around the new Cambridge North station [due to open on 21 May 2017] and the Cambridge Bio-medical Campus [adjacent to a potential Cambridge South station]. Highly relevant to the Fen Line, Figure 3 (page 10) shows there are major planned housing allocations at Littleport (550 homes), Ely (3679 homes) and Waterbeach (8500 homes). Figure 6 (page 27) shows the future planned rail network, with King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross and Norwich-Cambridge services ("half-hourly or greater"), The North-Peterborough-Cambridge-Stansted Airport and Midlands-Peterborough-Cambridge-Stansted Airport (hourly), and Wisbech-March-Cambridge (hourly, peak only) services running between Ely and Cambridge. Figure 8 (page 41) shows proposed traffic calming in the Queen Adelaide Area and Figure 10 (page 42) shows "Ely North Junction rail improvements".

Friday 26 February 2016 - Reporting after today's meeting, the Lynn News states: "Rail upgrade study 'could cost £5 million', Downham Market summit told .... A feasibility study into upgrading a key interchange on the rail network serving Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire will cost £5 million alone, a meeting has heard today." The newspaper reports: "South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss, who hosted the event, said the firm [Network Rail] had admitted it had not properly assessed the scale of the project until now. ... Representatives of county and district councils and local enterprise partnerships (LEPs) from across the region agreed to help fund the cost of a new feasibility study into the scheme. And officials now expect work on that to begin soon after Network Rail initially indicated they had not intended to start it until 2020." The Lynn News continues: "Ms Truss said a solution needed to be found with both Network Rail and Cambridgeshire County Council in order to prevent rail work having a knock-on effect on motorists using surrounding roads. Several of the region's MPs will meet ministers next week in a bid to secure government funding for the assessment." Neil Darwin, chief executive of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP told the Lynn News: "I'm really pleased to hear the commitment from other stakeholders and partners. It's a important way of generating growth in the whole region." The paper adds: "Ray Harding, chief executive of West Norfolk Council, which was another of the bodies to agree to make a financial contribution to the study, said it 'makes sense' for authorities like his to work with others to make progress."

Friday 26 February 2016 - "Network Rail to be quizzed over Ely junction upgrade" says ITV News, reporting on the Downham Market Rail Summit to be held later today. "It follows months of lobbying to ensure a promised half-hourly service on the King's Lynn to London line are on schedule for next year." The television news channel highlights the regional significance of the Ely North Junction bottleneck (the railway crossroads of East Anglia) by quoting George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, as saying "The Ely Junction is now the critical bottleneck holding back the vital Norwich to Cambridge to Stansted 'Innovation Line' which could create thousands of jobs in rural Norfolk." [Half-hourly King's Lynn-King's Cross trains are a political commitment, backed by a government contract [pages 349 and 350 refer - for more details see news item dated Monday 20 0ctober 2014 below; there are aspirations which (unlike the Fen Line half-hourly services) have not yet gained the status of political commitment and government contract, and which would require Ely North Junction to be upgraded. These aspirations include a half-hourly Norwich-Cambridge-Stansted Airport frequency and an hourly Ipswich-Peterborough service (including a new station at Soham) plus a new Wisbech-March-Cambridge route; additionally there are aspirations to accommodate additional freight flows on the Felixstowe-Midlands route].

Thursday 25 February 2016 - Writing in the latest issue of Modern Railways [page 24, March 2016 edition] about the 'Digital Railway', Roger Ford reveals that, at the Rail Delivery Group's Annual Conference, he learned that Network Rail "is considering the use of the Norwich-Lowestoft/Great Yarmouth 'Wherry Lines' for a 'proof of concept' pilot scheme to demonstrate the integration of the three systems [European Train Control System (ETCS), Connected-Driver Advisory System (C-DAS) and Traffic Management (TM) which must work together]." He adds: "At this point, I did stick my hand up and asked ... shouldn't DR [the Digital Railway], which is all about improving operation of a busy railway, be trialled on a more demanding route? I suggested Cambridge-King's Lynn."

Thursday 25 February 2016 - The Wisbech Rail Reopening Campaign reports "Wisbech could become garden town with guarantee of rail reopening" ... saying that "Fenland District Council describes what is proposed for Wisbech is 'a game changer' that fits with the Government agenda of delivering new homes on a scale way and beyond that earmarked in Local Plans. ... With house prices in Cambridge three times those of Wisbech, the council is confident of attracting quality housing and skilled workers once transport links are improved. ... Cambridgeshire County Council is also backing the proposals and looking for a massive windfall from using vast tracts of land it already owns in Wisbech for new housing." This project, were it to go ahead, would require "the re-opening of the rail link to March and onwards to Ely and Cambridge, creating a travel time into the city [Cambridge] of 45 minutes. ... Fenland Council also believes postponed rail improvements at Ely need to be carried out as soon as possible to offer certainty of possible commuting times."

Monday 22 February 2016 - Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink are proposing to change "the way we operate approximately 80 of our busier stations" including King's Lynn. Their website says: "these proposals opened to three weeks of public consultation today, Monday 22 February 2016, and will be discussed with London TravelWatch and Transport Focus and require approval from the Department for Transport. We are also speaking to our trades unions about this." Kings Lynn is listed as a Band 3 station where, if the proposals go ahead, "we still rely heavily on ticket offices in the peak: Here we propose to staff the ticket office window at peak times but we will also position ticket selling equipment at a station hosting point so the staff are available on the concourse." Detailed proposals for King's Lynn (listed here under Appendix C) are to be found here and there are also posters displayed at King's Lynn station.

Monday 15 February 2016 - As part of preparing our response to the Department of Transport's "Network Rail's Investment Programme - The Hendy Report Consultation" , we will be meeting Network Rail on Monday 22 February 2016 to discuss Network Rail's draft updated Enhancements Delivery Plan (EDP) in as far as the draft proposals in it affect the Fen Line. We draw members attention in particular to the following draft EDP schemes: Project CashDfT006 - Cambridge North New station [page 160]; Project A002 - Anglia Traction Power Supply Upgrade [page 29]; Project A006 - Kings Lynn-Cambridge 8-car [page 35] (all three projects recommended for implementation in CP5 [2014-2019]) and to Project A001 Ely North Junction Capacity Improvement [page 28]; Project IFDfT004 Ely to Soham Doubling [page 166]; and Project LNE009 Stevenage Turnback [page 70] (these three these projects are recommended to be deferred until CP6 [2019-2024]). Members are invited to send any comments they may have on the draft EDP, along with supporting reasons, to Andy Tyler, Secretary by Friday 18 February 2016, in order that these may be considered for raising at the forthcoming meeting with Network Rail. Members are also reminded that, in any case, we invite comments on the Hendy consultation, along with supporting reasons; these must be sent to Andy Tyler, Secretary, before Friday 4 March 2016 in order that they can be considered before we submit our finalised response to the DfT. Individual members may, of course, comment to the Department for Transport directly before the their consultation closes at 2359 on Friday 18 March 2016: details of the DfT's consultation arrangements are available here. We also invite members to contact Andy Tyler, also before Friday 4 March, should they wish to make comments, along with supporting reasons, on the Department for Transport (DfT) and Transport for London (TfL) proposals put forward in 'A new approach to passenger rail services in London and the south east'. It is anticipated that the next issue of The Fenman will cover both consultations more fully.

Friday 12 February 2016 - New bus service No 36 "will be timed for trains" says the Lynn News today. Bus operator Lynx will be running from Kings Lynn railway station to Heacham and Hunstanton every hour and this "will be timed to meet trains from Cambridge and London." Lynx says the service will mean that it "takes just over 35 minutes to reach the seaside." The service will start on 29 March 2016. Today's newspaper also has a photograph of the Queen leaving King's Lynn railway station on her return to London after her annual stay at Sandringham. Other rail news in the paper includes a photograph showing FLUA Secretary Andy Tyler, Chairman Colin Sampson, newly elected Vice-Chairman Andy Gibbs (a daily commuter from Downham Market to King's Cross) and President Robert Stripe, as well as a call from local trader Simon Prior calling for new car parks in Downham Market including one for the town's railway station.

Friday 12 February 2016 - The Consortium of East Coast Main Line Authorities (ECMA), which covers the ECML from London to Aberdeen and Inverness, issues its Prospectus for Investment in the East Coast Main Line. The technical work, undertaken by JMP Consultants, identifies Cambridge and King's Lynn as an ECML "Long Distance Commuter Service" and as key stations where connections are made between the ECML and East West Regional Services. issues discussed in the report include connectivity and journey time reductions.

Tuesday 2 February 2016 - Govia Thameslink Railway has today issued a statement 'Modernising our stations' which states: "At Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink, we want to modernise the way we operate approximately 80 of our busier stations for the benefit of passengers, many of whom now buy their tickets online, or use Oyster, contactless and smartcards." [Regular travellers will have seen the smartcard readers now installed at GTR Fen Line stations and due to go live later this year]. The proposals, which are at an early stage, would affect King's Lynn station, which is listed as one of those stations which "still rely heavily on ticket offices as well as the ticket machines ... At these stations we propose to relocate the ticket selling equipment to a station hosting point so the staff are available on the concourse, but still able to sell the full range of tickets from the first to the last train; we will also staff the ticket office window at peak times to manage the demand; at these stations we propose to move people out onto the concourse as 'Station Hosts' ... [who] will be: visible and available from first service until the last, which is longer than current ticket office hours in many cases; trained in customer service; able to sell tickets and provide information using a new handheld device; helping passengers use the ticket machines." GTR has confirmed to us that Downham Market, the only other staffed station on the Fen Line, is not affected by these proposed changes. Ely and Cambridge stations are operated by Abellio Greater Anglia, not GTR.

Monday 1 February 2016 - "Newer, seven-year-old, trains to come into service on West Norfolk line" reports the Lynn News today. The paper says: "Managers of Great Northern, the company which runs most passenger services between West Norfolk and London, say the move will replace trains which have been in service for more than two decades and will improve services to the public. The announcement has also been welcomed by political leaders and transport campaigners in the borough." The class 377 trains will run on King's Lynn-King's Cross services. The Lynn News continues: "The move also follows renewed focus on the standard of rail services to and from West Norfolk in recent months, following Network Rail's announcement that it was delaying improvement works on the Ely north junction until at least 2019."

Tuesday 26 January 2016 - "Station spur for longer train bid. Work sought before Cambridge opening" reads the headline on page 8 of today's Lynn News. The article, by News Editor Allister Webb, continues "Pressure is building on ministers and industry bosses to find ways of increasing capacity after a key upgrade [that for Ely North Junction] was delayed in November. ... A feasibility study into whether eight-carriage trains can run to and from Lynn, instead of the current four, is being undertaken." [A few 8-car Kings Lynn to Kings Cross trains do run already, the 0610 King's Lynn-King's Cross and the 1814 King's Cross-King's Lynn being examples on Mondays to Fridays, but these services can only stop at Downham Market and Ely stations north of Cambridge, the platforms at Watlington, Littleport and Waterbeach being too short to accommodate them]. "But, with a new Cambridge North station [also known as Cambridge Science Park station and under construction] due to open next spring, campaigners are calling for a solution to be finalised before then." Andy Tyler, secretary of the Fen Line Users Association, told the Lynn News: "That should be the spur so we can have eight-car trains that stop there. ... If we have longer trains it will relieve the current overcrowding." The newspaper reports: "Figures last month showed more than 1.6 million passengers used the stations in Lynn, Downham and Watlington during the year to the end of March 2015, up almost seven per cent on the previous year" and points out that "FLUA officials have also backed calls for a new station on the southern edge of Lynn to accommodate demand." The article concludes: "A summit will take place in Downham next month following Network Rail's decision to halt work on an upgrade to the Ely North junction until 2019. But ministers insist there is money available to expand services by enabling longer trains to run before work on the junction is carried out."

Saturday 23 January 2016 - "West Norfolk campaigners call for longer trains solution before new Cambridge station opens" reports the Lynn News today. The paper continues: "The opening of a new railway station in Cambridge should be the spur for longer trains to run from West Norfolk to the city and beyond ... A feasibility study into whether eight-carriage trains can run to and from Lynn, instead of the current four, is being undertaken." The new Cambridge North station (also known as Cambridge Science Park station) is due to open on Sunday 21 May 2017 and is currently under construction, and the Lynn News reports: "campaigners are calling for a solution to be finalised before then. Andy Tyler, secretary of the Fen Line Users Association, said: 'That should be the spur so we can have eight-car trains that stop there.'" The newspaper's website points out: "while the impact of the additional stop on timetables is still being assessed, politicians and campaigners are keen to keep up the pressure for service improvements, amid continuing growth in passenger numbers. ... more than 1.6 million passengers used the stations in Lynn, Downham and Watlington during the year to the end of March 2015, up almost seven per cent on the previous year." A summit will take place in Downham next month following Network Rail's decision to halt work on an upgrade to the Ely North junction until 2019. The Lynn News item concludes: "... ministers insist there is money available to expand services by enabling longer trains to run before work on the junction is carried out."

Friday 22 January 2016 - "£83,000: what you must earn to buy home in city" reports Jon Vale, Politics Correspondent of the Cambridge News, today [page 4]. The paper reveals that the Hometrack report says "a household income of £83,500 is now needed to be able to a secure a mortgage on even an average priced property in Cambridge. MP Daniel Zeichner called the city's housing market 'a nightmare', adding: 'The Government fail to see that what has happened in London is now happening in Cambridge, but we don't have the transport systems to allow people to live further away.' [Passenger growth from the six Fen Line stations north of Cambridge - Waterbeach, Ely, Littleport, Downham Market, Watlington, and King's Lynn - was up by an average 6% in 2014/5 according to official ORR figures - see news item for Tuesday 15 December 2015. We have said before that the massive growth on King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross services is greatly down to house prices and we are greatly concerned about intense overcrowding on Fen Line trains both south of and, increasingly, north of Cambridge, as places such as Ely and Downham Market become very popular commuter towns, both for Cambridge and for London.]

Thursday 21 January 2016 - The Department for Transport publishes today "Network Rail's Investment Programme - The Hendy Report Consultation" [which outlines the background to Sir Peter Hendy's previously published review of rail investment plans for CP5 (2014-2019) - see news item dated Wednesday 9 December 2015] and initiates a consultation on Sir Peter's recommendations, made in his earlier report. The consultation document asks the questions: "Do you have any comments on the projects which have been selected for completion in CP5? Do you consider that other projects, originally scheduled for completion in CP5 but not now planned to be completed in this Control Period, should have been prioritised ahead of the projects identified by the Hendy Report? Do you have any comments on the re-planning process generally? In all cases, please give reasons for the opinions that you express." The document also states: "In formulating their response to the consultation question consultees may find it helpful to consider the following themes: Impact on users: Does the re-plan take appropriate account of passenger needs and passenger experience? Is the approach to freight appropriate in light of the current and projected demand? ... Commitments: In so far as the re-plan may have an impact on any local economic development proposals or the delivery of other dependent schemes, please indicate your views on this and any suggested mitigations." Details of the consultation arrangements are available here; the consultation closes at 2359 on Friday 18 March 2016. Members are invited to send any comments they may have, along with supporting reasons, to Andy Tyler, Secretary before Friday 4 March; the next FLUA Committee Meeting is to be held on Saturday 6 February and any comments received before then will be discussed at that meeting. Individual members may, of course, comment to the Department for Transport directly, using the links posted in this news item.

Thursday 21 January 2016 - The Department for Transport (DfT) and Transport for London (TfL) today have jointly published 'A new approach to passenger rail services in London and the south east'. Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin, and Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, write in the consultation document: "London's population is set to rise from 8.6 million today to 10 million by 2030, while the population in the adjacent travel-to-work areas of southeast and eastern England is expected to increase too from 15 to 17 million over the same period. ... our rail network is a shared resource - it carries huge flows of people in and out of the capital to the surrounding region, and it also caters for local journeys to and from regional centres outside of London such as Cambridge, ... For them [centres such as Cambridge] to thrive, access to jobs and housing has to improve." They continue: "Under the published national franchising programme, all the major franchises in the region are due to be re-tendered and specified over the next five years. ... The opportunity presented by this sequence of franchise renewals is vast. The need to support local growth through better rail services is a high priority for all. ... We propose to form a partnership between TfL and the DfT to provide strategic direction for the specification and management of future train operator contracts."

The consultation document also includes the following:

"With growth across London and the South East set to continue, our rail network is essential to providing extra housing and jobs, as well as enhancing people's quality of life. ... Journeys on rail-based transport in London have almost doubled in the last 25 years. Growth has been particularly strong outside traditional peak hours, as London's wealth of leisure, retail and cultural attractions draws visitors from across the UK and overseas. Major towns and cities outside London such as Cambridge ... have seen similar trends. The railways need to enable people to move easily to, from and within the Capital, and to and from key regional economic centres [such as Cambridge] as well. ...Our railways play a critical role in joining the region together - commuters coming in and out of London are vital for London's economy, but also critical in the local economies in the areas where they live, supporting town centres and regional services.

"... we propose to establish a partnership between the DfT and TfL that will provide joined-up strategic direction for the specification and management of rail passenger services across London and the South East" - based on three key principles: more frequent services, greater reliability, and high standards of customer service. "This proposal includes the transfer of responsibility from the DfT to TfL for inner suburban rail services that operate mostly or wholly within Greater London, as current franchises fall due for renewal. The DfT will continue to be responsible for outer suburban services [the King's Cross-King's Lynn 'Cambridge Express' services are part of GTR's Great Northern 'outer suburban' group and would remain responsibility of the DfT]."

Views are now being sought on the proposals, the consultation, which includes a series of questions, closing at 11.45 pm on Friday 18 March 2016.

Saturday 16 January 2016 - "Extra stop will put more pressure on full trains" is the headline of an article on page 15 of today's Eastern Daily Press, written by the paper's Political Editor Annabelle Dickson. The paper reports on the letter sent this week from Rail Minister Claire Perry to North West Norfolk MP Sir Henry Bellingham. Ms Perry is reported by the EDP as saying in her letter to Sir Henry: "Passenger numbers between Cambridge and London have grown quickly and faster than forecast. Peak trains are heavily loaded and we are very conscious of the crowding that occurs. King's Lynn services are already full and adding calls at Cambridge North means we need to explore with GTR how King's Lynn peak trains can be extended from four cars to eight cars to provide extra capacity." The article continues: "Sir Henry said that while it was still bad news that the capital improvements to Ely North Junction had been pushed back beyond 2019, there was some good news regarding the introduction of a half-hourly service, and the longer trains."

Saturday 16 January 2016 - Bob Menzies has posted a photograph of construction work at the new Cambridge North station (also known as Cambridge Science Park station) here.

Friday 8 January 2016 - "Proposal to provide an hour's free car parking has been revealed as one of the more favoured options to alleviate parking issues in Downham Market" reports today's Eastern Daily Press [page 52]. Downham Market Town Council is to hold a public consultation event at the Town Hall between 3pm and 8pm on Monday 18 January. The EDP highlights the growing commuter numbers from Downham Market [now Norfolk's fourth most-used station after Norwich, King's Lynn and Diss] saying: "Increasing concerns about car parking in the town has been fuelled by population growth and an increase in commuters parking in car parks to use the direct train line to Cambridge and London." [For those seeking "a home within reach of London" The Commuter Guide website gives train service - "peak trains 2 per hour to King's Cross (plus 1 per hour to Liverpool Street)" - and locality details; season ticket prices from all Fen Line stations can be calculated on the Great Northern and Thameslink website here].

Thursday 7 January 2016 - "Ely railway station upgrade should mean it is now better for passengers" reports the Ely Standard today, "Improvements at Ely rail station should mean the ticket office, waiting room and toilet facilities are now much easier to use for those with mobility issues." Train company Abellio Greater Anglia (AGA) has completed work to create "a better waiting environment for passengers." Paul Stannard, AGA's Area Customer Service Manager, told the newspaper, "Investing in upgrades to stations across the network is extremely important to Abellio Greater Anglia, demonstrating our commitment to providing excellent facilities and service to our customers," adding: "I would like to thank customers for their patience while the work was carried out."

Monday 28 December 2015 - We refer interested parties to the Freedom of Information Act responses of both the Department for Transport and Network Rail to Mr Moss-Eccardt regarding level crossings at Queen Adelaide and the proposed Ely North Junction upgrade scheme. Below we quote from Network Rail's letter to the Department for Transport dated 22 September 2015.

Writing to the Department for Transport on 22 September 2015, Network Rail states: "... we do recognise the importance DfT and Ministers have consistently placed on improving services on this route and recognise the urgency of these improvements. ... there are a few items of scope within [the] potential scheme that may have significant lead times, for example the possible need for new safe access across the railway at Littleport once 8 car trains are in operation [i.e. those calling at Littleport - 8-car trains operate non-stop through Littleport already], some signalling operations, some platform extensions (in some cases to avoid train trailing back over level crossings) and the need to check through the power supply implications of the longer trains. We will work with yourselves [DfT], ORR and GTR to take this development work forward as quickly as possible. We have already met with GTR for initial discussions with regard to 8 car operation ...."

In the same letter, NR goes on to say "... noting the importance of moving forward with visible improvements for passengers on the route we would propose the following way forward to seek to unlock benefits as soon as possible:

" * Focus initial effort on improved peak services where crowding currently exists and need is greatest ... as there are already 2 tph in the peaks today - this effectively means prioritise the peak 8 car scheme.

" * Work together with yourselves [DfT] and local authorities to review the level crossing situation and agree a short, medium, and long term approach to running additional services in the area.

" * In the meantime NR to work with DfT and GTR to review if any options do exist for any additional services within the risk parameters of the crossings in question. This could best be achieved by GTR making a revised proposal that could be tested through our normal TCRAG (Timetable Change Risk Assurance Group) process."

The NR letter of 22 September 2015 concludes: "The Department [for Transport] have recently established an Anglia Portfolio Board with Network Rail and potentially with operators to further co-ordinate planning, project development and franchising across the different parties in Anglia. The next meeting is in October [2015] and we propose that we cover next steps on all the above at that session."

Thursday 24 December 2015 - Network Rail replies today to Rupert Moss-Eccardt's Freedom of Information Act request regarding level crossings associated with the Ely North Junction upgrade [Ref. FOI2015/01105. See also entries for Wednesday 2 December 2015 and Thursday 26 November 2015]. Network Rail states: "... there is a general public interest in the Ely North Junction scheme, particularly regarding the possible options proposed by Network Rail to resolve the issues relating to the three level crossings immediately north of the Junction. ... It is a matter of public record, following publication of the review by Sir Peter Hendy on the planning of Network Rail's Investment Programme that safety critical works at the level crossings described in this request, are to be incorporated into the Ely North Junction scheme, which has been postponed from control period 5 to control period 6. Any potential work on the level crossings in question would be considered at pre-development and pre-funding stages, therefore, by disclosing any sensitive related information at this very early stage would be likely to cause harm in terms of unnecessary and unhelpful added pressure to Network Rail and a variety of stakeholders including the Department for Transport. As with lots of other development work, there is a legitimate and valid order of events regarding the important process of community engagement and public consultation. ... Furthermore, in this case, following discussions with colleagues, I understand that there would be public consultation carried out in due course as appropriate. ... If Network Rail were to disclose the requested information it could cause prejudice to third parties in terms of perceived 'planning blight', before such a time that there is any certainty over any given option or, even that once a given option is chosen, a decision has been reached as to how any given option might be funded. Consequently, Network Rail could then experience prejudice to their economic interests in the form of compensatory payments to the aforementioned third parties. Furthermore, disclosure of the information described in the request, at such an early stage would be likely to mislead the public into thinking that decisions have been made, regarding potential options for work on the three level crossings immediately north of Ely North Junction, before any such conclusions have been made. ... After careful consideration of the public interest, on this occasion, we believe that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in favour of disclosure and for this reason we have withheld some of the information requested." Network Rail further states: "Notwithstanding the above, I can confirm that we are able to release some of the information requested. Please find attached the following documents in answer to your request: Letter from Network Rail to DfT dated 31st [sic] August 2015 re: improvements to Cambridge - Kings Lynn Services [and] Letter from Network Rail to DfT dated 22nd September 2015 re: improvements to Cambridge - Kings Lynn services."

Mr Moss-Eccardt replies to Network Rail today, saying "I am writing to request an internal review of Network Rail Limited's handling of my FOI request ... You asked for an extension to respond as there was so much information to consider. Clearly this is at odds with the decision to apply exemptions. I can only assume that, given the political fallout from the slip into CP6, disclosure has become potentially damaging to NR. If that is the reason, please say so. All that notwithstanding I can't believe there aren't statements of facts that were used in briefing the LEP, the local councillors and MPs that are still exempt. Note that the DfT response to a similar query was much more voluble. Clearly they judge the exemptions differently. So again this is grounds to ask you to think again."

Friday 18 December 2015 - "Borough rail travel soaring, report shows" reports the Lynn News today [page 4]. The newspaper states: "More than 1.6 million passengers used West Norfolk's three railway stations in the past year, according to new figures. The report by the Office for Rail and Road (ORR) showed the number of people using the stations in Lynn, Downham and Watlington was up nearly seven per cent compared with the previous year. ... In Lynn, 970,890 people passed through the station ... up more than six per cent and cementing its position as Norfolk's second busiest station, behind Norwich. Meanwhile, Downham's total was up nearly seven per cent to 491,744, making it the county's fourth busiest station, moving ahead of Yarmouth. But the borough's biggest climber was at Watlington, where 143,904 were estimated to have entered or exited the station, an increase of more than nine per cent. The report also suggests that passenger numbers are falling at many stations across Norfolk, including Norwich, where numbers fell by over 60,000 to around 4.07 million. ... The announcement three weeks ago [that the Ely North Junction upgrade had been postponed] also cast major doubt on the long-awaited launch of half-hourly trains between West Norfolk and London, which had been scheduled to start in May 2017. But the company [Network Rail] has signalled its intention to introduce eight carriage trains between Lynn and Cambridge [where most trains attach additional carriages for the normally non-stop run on to Kings Cross] instead of the current four coach services, during 2016."

Thursday 17 December 2015 - Today's Cambridge News' leader column [page 6] is quoted here in full:

"Urgent need for railway funding. The growth in the number of passengers using Cambridge railway station is remarkable. More than 10 million people used the station over the past 12 months, a figure that has doubled in just 13 years. And it is important to remember that it is not just Cambridge that has seen such a surge, with other stations around the city also becoming increasingly popular. Projects like the new Cambridge North station [under construction], improvements to Thameslink services and East-West rail are welcome upgrades in the pipeline - but more is clearly needed to cope with this boom. A new station at Addenbrooke's is surely worth investigation."

In the light of this clear-sighted newspaper opinion, which, in our view, realistically reflects the fast-changing railway geography of East Anglia, we restate the Association's primary objectives:

1 replacement of fragile connections at Cambridge to/from Kings Cross in the AM and PM peaks with through King's Lynn trains to/from Kings Cross;

2 relief of the increasing crowding, both south and north of Cambridge, especially between Ely and Cambridge;

3 improved accessibility to emerging clusters of economic and social activity located on or close to the King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross route.

Since adopting these objectives in January 2015, the new station at Cambridge North/Cambridge Science Park is now under construction, development of major office developments adjacent to Cambridge and King's Cross stations has proceeded apace, and standing on key PM peak services as far north as Littleport/Downham Market has become fairly routine. There is a specific need for a second King's Lynn train to leave Cambridge during the afternoon high peak there, i.e. departing Cambridge about 1710-1715.

The introduction of cross-London Thameslink services from 2018, both from Cambridge and, with metro-style frequency, readily accessible from St Pancras International (immediately adjacent to King's Cross) is likely to further emphasize the importance of the King's Cross route to Fen Line passengers.

Thursday 17 December 2015 - The Cambridge News website has a table showing the ORR estimates of passenger usage at all stations in East Anglia, permitting comparison of official figures for 2010, 2014, and 2015 (all to 31 March of the relevant year). The six Fen Line stations on the Kings Lynn-Cambridge-Kings Cross route are shown as growing by the following percentages over the period 2010 to 2015: King's Lynn +29.3%, Watlington + 33.3%, Downham Market +36.6%, Littleport +59.3%, Ely (all routes) +30.9% and Waterbeach +43.3%. Cambridge, now with over 10 million users and East Anglia's busiest railway station, has grown by 36% over the same five year period

Wednesday 16 December 2015 - "Campaigners demand service improvements as Fen Line passenger numbers soar" reports the Lynn News today: "A report showing the continuing growth in passengers using the rail line between Cambridge and King's Lynn shows the urgent need for service improvements, campaigners say." Reporting on the ORR passenger estimates for 2014/5 published yesterday, the newspaper states: "In King's Lynn, 970,890 people passed through the station during that period, up more than six per cent on the previous year and cementing its position as Norfolk's second busiest station, behind Norwich. Meanwhile, Downham Market's total was up nearly seven per cent to 491,744, making it the county's fourth busiest station, moving ahead of Yarmouth." The Lynn News goes on to say that Network Rail's recent announcement of delays to the Ely North Junction "cast major doubt on the long-awaited launch of half-hourly trains between West Norfolk and London, which had been scheduled to start in May 2017. But the company has signalled its intention to introduce eight carriage trains between Lynn and Cambridge, instead of the current four coach services, during 2016." The newspaper adds "And the association [that's us, FLUA], which is calling for planning work on Ely North to start immediately despite the delay, says the figures strengthen their case for major investment in the borough's rail links." The Fenland Citizen covers the story here and the Newmarket Journal article is here. It is also featured by the Peterborough Telegraph here.

Tuesday 15 December 2015 - "Stressed to breaking point" - a letter from Gareth Wright of Waterbeach and published in today's Cambridge News [page 16] is quoted here in full to illustrate further the amount of capacity pressure that the massively successful King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross Fen Line is now under. The letter reads: "Passenger numbers at Waterbeach station have almost doubled in the past 10 years with nearly 350,000 using the facility last year." [Official estimates, also published today, show this number has increased to 381,202 users for 2014/5 - see item immediately below]. Mr Wright's letter continues "Unfortunately this surge in usage has not been met with any improvements in the infrastructure. Trains are frequently full, as highlighted recently by the story of a local school child being pushed off an overcrowded train, and the village is choked with parked cars. Improvements to the rail service have been put on hold due to the indefinite postponement of the Ely North Junction scheme and questions asked about the inadequate parking facilities are deflected from one agency to another in a never ending loop. Lack of funds is often cited as a reason for the lack of investment in the service, although Abellio greater Anglia received £187m in government subsidies last year, it still paid out £36m in dividends to shareholders!" [In fairness to Abellio, we would point out that Waterbeach is served mainly by Govia Thameslink Railway 'Great Northern' trains, operating on the King's Lynn-King's Cross route and run for the Government under a direct management contract, but 3 southbound and 5 northbound Abellio trains do stop at Waterbeach, Mondays-Fridays]. The letter in today's Cambridge News concludes "This area is likely to see massive development in the coming years with an 8,500-home new town planned for the area north of the village putting untold strain on a system that is already at breaking point. Infrastructure seems to come last on the list when it comes to development with promises made often broken by the developers once profits have been made. Maybe Waterbeach is a case where it should take a higher priority?"

Tuesday 15 December 2015 - The Association has issued a Statement which reads:

Official figures show thriving Fen Line outperforming once more: The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has issued its 2014/5 station usage estimates today. Fen Line growth of 6% outperforms the national average of 4.5% over the 2013/4 to 2014/5 period.

Ely remains the busiest station, but the biggest percentage increase is at Waterbeach: 11%. "Explosive Fen Line growth, especially at my home station at Waterbeach, comes as no surprise," says FLUA Vice-Chairman Robert Stripe, "when you try to board an already packed train from an even more packed platform - we desperately need more and longer trains and the longer platforms to accommodate them."

Up by 7%, Downham Market has overtaken Great Yarmouth to become Norfolk's 4th busiest station. "The successful Fen Line has bucked trends again - the phenomenal upsurge at my home station of Downham Market is particularly pleasing to see. I'm looking forward to seeing it break the half-million barrier in the coming year!" says FLUA Chairman Colin Sampson. "If anything makes the case for 8-car trains, a half-hourly service and the Ely North Junction upgrade, surely this latest ORR information is it."

King's Lynn continues to be Norfolk's 2nd busiest station. "With over 970,000 users this last year," says FLUA Secretary, Andy Tyler, "King's Lynn is firmly knocking on the door of the million users club. Our three Fen Line stations in Norfolk have increased by a 100,000 users when added together, yet rail use in the whole county only increased by 44,000!" He adds, "Norfolk's railway geography is changing fast and the big growth is over here in the west." Andy Tyler continues, "We welcome Network Rail's recently-announced 'Kings Lynn to Cambridge 8-car' project, we await the promised half-hourly King's Lynn-King's Cross service and, given the long lead times, we continue to press for the planning work for the Ely North Junction project to be started straightaway!"

1 The 2014/5 figures for the six Fen Line stations are:

King's Lynn 970,890 +6%; Watlington 143,904 +9%; Downham Market 491,744 +7%; Littleport 238,062 +6%; Ely (all routes) 2,068,240 +5%; Waterbeach 381,202 +11%; All six stations 4,294,042 +6%.

2 Norfolk's top 6 stations 2014/5:

Norwich 4,071,502; King's Lynn 970,890; Diss 682,142; Downham Market 491,744; Great Yarmouth 436,834; Thetford 295,044.

Thursday 10 December 2015 - "During the last parliament there were some big promises made about our rail links. ... In the west [of the region] a great play was made by MPs when the Ely North junction was given the green light." Today's Eastern Daily Press first Leader [page 30] continues "The rhetoric has by no means matched the reality. Communities minister Greg Clark spoke this week about creating an 'eastern motor', and the potential for Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire to work together." The EDP adds "Yet a key rail link [Ely North Junction] to kick-start his eastern motor has been delayed - with no indication of exactly when the vital work will be done. A government rethink is needed." Page 14 of today's Eastern Daily Press is given over to current railway matters, particularly the decision of Stagecoach Group to pull out of bidding for the East Anglia Rail Franchise [King's Lynn-King's Cross trains are not part of this franchise but are operated by Govia Thameslink Railway]. It also covers the Round-table summit to be held in February at Downham Market to discuss Ely North Junction. The EDP says "South-West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss has called a round-table discussion which she said would explore the options for upgrading Ely North Junction - which is key to twice hourly train services between King's Lynn and Cambridge and Norwich and Cambridge as well as freight services."

Wednesday 9 December 2015 - "Talks for two trains happening next year" headlines radio station KLFM 96.7 in reporting the forthcoming Rail Summit to be held in Downham Market on 26 February 2016. Interviewed by the radio station, FLUA Secretary Andy Tyler says "The scheme that we're talking about to get these two trains an hour from King's Lynn is what they call a 'named scheme.'" He goes on to point that, as a 'named scheme' [in the Government's High Level Output Statement for CP5] Ely North Junction is "one of the few in the country" and makes the point that "it's just a case of the timing. I think the powers that be have found issues and problems to achieve that service, that outcome ... [but] they know that at the end of the day it's got to be completed and done as soon as possible... make no mistake about it, we at the Fen Line Users Association aren't so interested in that [the unforeseen problems], what we're interested in is achieving the better service for the passengers that we represent."

Wednesday 9 December 2015 - South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss, reports the Lynn News today, says: "I am keen to ensure ... that this [the Ely North Junction upgrade] happens as soon as possible so I have called for a round table discussion with the LEPs, council leaders and fellow MPs to see how this can be implemented sooner rather than later.... East Anglia is a thriving and dynamic area of the UK and I am keen to see the rail infrastructure in place to support this growth and that residents in South West Norfolk can benefit from half hourly services on the King's Lynn to London line and more frequent trains on the Thetford route." South East Cambridgeshire MP Lucy Frazer says "The upgrade to the Ely North Junction is vital for our area. I am pressing to ensure that this takes place, and I am pleased to take part in this roundtable discussion to ensure that we get the investment we need for these rail improvements as soon as possible." Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Chairman Matt Reeve, the Lynn News confirms, is "frustrated that the vital improvements to the Ely North Junction are being delayed ...We therefore look forward to a positive discussion in the new year to help move this scheme forward." The roundtable meeting is to take place on 26 February 2016 at Downham Market.

Wednesday 9 December 2015 - The Fenland Citizen reports today that "A rail summit will take place in the new year to discuss a key upgrade to the network serving Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, it has been revealed this morning. The new talks, which will take place in late February and involve MPs, council and business leaders, Network Rail and train operators, have been called following a meeting between MPs, Network Rail and Govia Thameslink, one of the main train operators which uses the junction, on Friday." South East Cambridgeshire MP Lucy Frazer says "I am pleased to take part in this roundtable discussion to ensure that we get the investment we need for these rail improvements [Ely North Junction] as soon as possible." Matt Reeve, chairman of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), adds: "We are, of course frustrated, that vital improvements to the Ely North Junction are being delayed, we understand that safety is the ultimate priority. However, these improvements are a key part of our strategic infrastructure plan." The Ely North Junction roundtable meeting will be held at Downham Market on Friday 26 February 2016.

Wednesday 9 December 2015 - South West Norfolk MP and Cabinet Minister Elizabeth Truss today confirms that MPs and business leaders are to hold a round table meeting on Ely North rail junction upgrade. This comes "after Elizabeth met Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Trains in Ely [on 4 December] to investigate the reasons why the planned upgrade of the Ely North junction will now take place in Control Period CP6 (2019 -2024) rather than CP5." Sir Peter Hendy, Chairman of Network Rail, has commented in his recent review of rail investment plans for CP5 that "Network Rail is aware of the strong aspiration of the Department for Transport and local user groups and MPs to see improvements to services on the Cambridge to Kings Lynn corridor as soon as practicable' and Elizabeth Truss adds "During the meeting with Network Rail and Govia Thameslink it became apparent that work needs to take place to the four level crossings around Ely and further surveys have to be done. What I am keen to ensure is that this happens as soon as possible so I have called for a round table discussion with the LEPs, council leaders and fellow MPs to see how this can be implemented sooner rather than later. The Transport Secretary has also confirmed that he will write to MPs by the end of this week detailing Network Rail's plans for future works."

Tuesday 8 December 2015 - Today's Lynn News shows Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn's photo immediately under the paper's masthead, with the words "Visitor Jeremy Corbyn's verdict on rail service: 'ridiculous.'" The paper's article [covering most of page 3] reports "Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn paid a flying visit to Norfolk on Saturday ... "using the train from London to Lynn for his visit." The Lynn News states Mr Corbyn "immediately said his journey had shown how desperately rail services in this area needed investment." Mr Corbyn told the newspaper that the King's Lynn line passed through his Islington constituency at Finsbury Park [one station north of Kings Cross]: "I am very interested in railways and I know it is frequently overcrowded on this line. This journey was an example what needs to be done to make it better. They all pile on at Cambridge and it was absolutely packed. It is ridiculous. It is a crucial artery for people's lives."

Friday 4 December 2015 - ITV Anglia News tonight covers Cabinet Minister and MP Elizabeth Truss' meeting today with Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway about Ely North Junction. Reporting from Ely station and from Littleport, Emily Knight says "improvements to the junction, which will see more frequent trains to cope with demand, has been delayed by Network Rail until at least 2019 and even then a new feasibility study needs to be carried out before work can actually start." In the ITV interview, Elizabeth Truss says "it is absolutely urgent - and we are talking about moving towards 8-car carriages along the line, which is positive - but it needs to happen soon because we're having new development in place. There's a big plan at Downham Market for a computer science park and those businesses need a really good train service." Emily Knight reports "the Ely North Junction is at the heart of East Anglia's rail network ... Network Rail says part of the reason for the delay is to make sure that changes can be made to existing level crossings in the Ely area, to make sure ones like this one here at Littleport, which crosses the A10, is able to cope with increased frequency in the future." Also interviewed by ITV, East Cambridgeshire Council Leader James Palmer says the news is disappointing for the whole region: "we're under pressure from Government to grow and to create more houses and more jobs, which we are doing and we're quite happy to do that, but, on the other side of the coin, Government of course must come to the table with the infrastructure that's necessary ... let's not confine it to an Ely issue - it's an East Anglia issue." ITV Anglia News concludes "Elizabeth Truss says her aim now is to get the feasibility study done as soon as possible, so the work could begin nearer 2019, rather than 2024."

Friday 4 December 2015 - "MP Liz Truss vows 'I'll keep coming back' as she meets rail chiefs at Ely in her fight for improved services and junction improvements ... The South West Norfolk MP was speaking as she went into a meeting [this morning] with Network Rail and Govia Thameslink to discuss the upgrade and introduction of half hourly train services on the King's Lynn to London line." That's the Wisbech Standard's story reported today. The paper continues "The junction is vital to the East Anglian rail network serving a number of lines including the King's Lynn/Downham Market to London line and the Thetford route." MP and Cabinet Minister Elizabeth Truss is reported as saying: "Half hourly services are important to the overall growth of Norfolk. I am expecting a response from the transport secretary by December 10... Today's meeting will allow me to ask exactly what it is going to cost to upgrade Ely North Junction, previously the budget was £35 million, but I want to know what money is required now. I also want to talk about the level crossings; I thought these had been sorted out." In response to the news that "Network Rail is undertaking development on a scheme to allow the lengthening of peak time services on the Cambridge to King's Lynn corridor from four to eight car length trains to tackle overcrowding," Ms Truss adds: "The introduction of eight car trains will be welcomed by regular commuters and I also want to see improved services on the Thetford line." The Wisbech Standard takes its headline from Elizabeth Truss' words: I need to know this information so we can push the transport department to get this important upgrade carried out as soon as possible. I am going to keep coming back until it is done."

Friday 4 December 2015 - "MPs want answers following 'frustrating' Ely North Junction upgrade delays" reports the Ely News about this morning's meeting of MP and Cabinet Minister Elizabeth Truss with Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway officials at Ely station. The paper states "She said: "I want passengers and businesses to have certainty as soon as possible about when the half hourly service on the King's Lynn to London line will be in place and when the junction will be upgraded. The Ely North is such a key junction in East Anglia as once upgraded it will increase the capacity on a number of rail links." The Cambridge News also covers the story today.

Friday 4 December 2015 - Radio station KLFM96.7 reports "South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss has met with Network Rail and Govia Thameslink Railway to discuss the Ely North Junction and the half hourly train service on the Kings Lynn to London line." Prior to the meeting, Elizabeth Truss said: "Local residents and business in South West Norfolk need to be able to plan for the future and the half hourly service on the Fenline is a key driver in supporting future growth in the region."

Friday 4 December 2015 - "After a bad few weeks for our rail service, crunch meetings are being held on either side of the region" - that's the message in today's Eastern Daily Press article [page 6]. "Minister must act" opines the paper's Leader column: "As MP Henry Bellingham points out, in the grand scale of the rail spending, it [the Ely North Junction scheme] is a drop in the ocean." [page 38]. Headed by half a page of full colour infographics showing rail enhancement spending region by region across Great Britain, the EDP's main article is headlined "MPs ready to tell Network Rail and minister about their train concerns" - Rail Minister Claire Perry is visiting Norwich today. It also contains a call for longer Fen Line trains from retired Watlington signaller Keith Leedell, who argues for longer platforms at Watlington, Littleport and Waterbeach; Mr Leedell is quoted as saying "passenger numbers [have] shot up over the past 10 years."

Today's full-page EDP article quotes North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham as saying the Ely North Junction upgrade would "unlock permanent improvements across the region". Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman told the EDP: "Despite huge extra investments in rail infrastructure by the government, Network Rail has said it needs to delay Ely works because of cost inflation on other major projects. That's why we met the Secretary of State [Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin] last week to urge the DfT to look again to see if Ely can be sorted sooner." The newspaper continues "South West Norfolk MP and Cabinet Minister Elizabeth Truss is due to meet Network Rail and the train operator Govia, which operates the trains between King's Lynn and London King's Cross to press them on when passengers will get half-hourly services off-peak after the upgrade setback. ... Ms Truss said the meeting today was an opportunity for Network Rail to present the programme of works and to obtain clarity on the implementation of the half-hourly service on the King's Lynn to London line."

Wednesday 2 December 2015 - Network Rail has today replied to Rupert Moss-Eccardt, whose initial Freedom of Information Act request to Network Rail regarding level crossings associated with the Ely North Junction upgrade was made on 31 October 2015 [current request NR Ref: FOI2015/01105]. The potential volume of the information request is such that Network Rail considers it necessary to extend the time allowed to reply [EIR Regulation 7(1)] and now aim to reply to Mr Moss-Eccardt by no later than Thursday 30 December 2015. We will await the substantive reply to Mr Moss-Eccardt before reporting any significant findings on this website (see also entry for Thursday 26 November 2015).

Tuesday 1 December 2015 - "East Cambs Council leader James Palmer says the decision to postpone rail improvements in Ely is 'very disappointing'" reports the Ely Standard today. Councillor Palmer is quoted as saying "While I can understand the pressures they [Network Rail] face, I do find it very frustrating given the rapid growth we are experiencing it is always our area which is affected by their decision to reschedule their plans. If we are to continue to grow in the future we need the infrastructure which was promised to help us to succeed. ... I would like to assure residents, I will writing to Network Rail seeking assurances that they will progress this project [Ely North Junction] with no further delay." The paper goes on to note "Network Rail is aware of the strong aspirations of the DfT and local user groups and MPs to see improvements to services on the Cambridge to King's Lynn corridor as soon as practicable". South East Cambridgeshire MP Lucy Frazer, and Norfolk MPs George Freeman and Elizabeth Truss met Transport Secretary Patrick MacLoughlin last week; the Ely Standard records Cabinet Minister Elizabeth Truss as saying "The half-hourly service on the King's Lynn to London line is scheduled to commence in 2017 and I am keen to work with the Department for Transport so that South West Norfolk can benefit from this increased service."

Friday 27 November 2015 - Today's Eastern Daily Press reports "Passengers will find out next month if twice-hourly train services between King's Lynn and London will still be brought in despite a major junction upgrade in Ely being delayed ... MPs have met Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, who told them that he thought the extra services could still be brought in without the upgrade to Ely, and he would let them know by December 10 when the services were likely to start. ... The Department for Transport said it was committed to bringing improvements to services on the Cambridge to King's Lynn corridor and was working with Network Rail to achieve this." Today's 'EDP' also reports "The £35m project is also crucial if there are to be more services between Norwich and Cambridge." The newspaper's main Leader column says "A new operator [Govia Thameslink Railway, now running King's Lynn-King's Cross services] and an announcement that Ely North Junction would be upgraded, complete with MPs and ministers enjoying a photo opportunity, provide hope the half-hourly trains in King's Lynn might just happen." The Leader column is headed "Just think what rail improvements could do for the region" and the item stresses "Improvements on the key rail arteries in both the east and the west of the region are much needed."

Friday 27 November 2015 - Commenting on yesterday's meeting of MPs Elizabeth Truss, George Freeman and Lucy Frazer with Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, fellow Cabinet Member and South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss says "I stressed the importance of the junction for jobs and growth in Norfolk. I want passengers and business to have certainty as soon as possible about when the half hourly service on the Kings Lynn to London line will be in place and when the junction will be upgraded. I am also keen to see the Thetford route benefit from more frequent services. That is why Ely North is such a key junction in East Anglian as once upgraded it will increase the capacity on a number of rail links. The Transport Secretary confirmed that he will write to us by the 10th December with this information." MP George Freeman says "The Ely North junction bottleneck is stopping half hourly services between Cambridge, Kings Lynn and Norwich, and faster freight links to Peterborough. Stations like Wymondham in Mid Norfolk could be part of the artery linking rural Norfolk with Norwich and Cambridge, attracting investment and new jobs to the area as well as easing pressure on our roads". Elizabeth Truss MP has further commented "The estimated direct benefit the upgrade for the junction will bring is £220 million [Atkins Report for Norfolk County Council]. There will be even further benefits in terms of housing growth, new business attracted to the area, more jobs that have not been included in the figure of £220 million. ... [Atkins' study concluded] an additional 2 million passengers were expected to use the service by 2026 from stations north of Cambridge."

Thursday 26 November 2015 - the Department for Transport has released certain papers concerning Ely North Junction today in response to a successful Freedom of Information Act request [Ref. F0012971] by Rupert Moss-Eccardt. We will be analysing these papers and reporting any significant findings on this website. The papers consist of (i) Email exchanges in regards of Ely North Junction and level crossings [see in particular Appendix A of this document]; (ii) Ministerial correspondence in regards of Ely North Junction; (iii) Network Rail and DfT Correspondence [Draft Letter from Principal Strategic Planner, London and South East Network Rail to DfT dated 21 August 2015 AND Draft response Letter to Principal Route Planner, Network Rail from DfT dated 25th August 2015 AND Letter from Principal Strategic Planner, London and South East Network Rail to DfT dated 22nd September 2015]; (iv) A001 Ely North Junction Capacity Improvement February 2015; and (v) Ely CP5 Control Delivery Request change form dated February 2015.

Thursday 26 November 2015 - "Anger as rail improvements which would bring millions to our economy are delayed" - BBC Look East's top story at 6.30 p.m. tonight. Political Correspondent Andrew Sinclair was interviewing passengers at Ely tonight - "Ely is probably the most important interchange in the East and the most congested." Footage of trains at Ely North Junction accompanied the news that Network Rail envisaged delays of "at least another three years" before the junction would be upgraded to support more frequent train services. Mark Pendlington, Chairman of New Anglia LEP, affirmed the campaign to secure the upgrade would go on, George Freeman MP pointed out that a "relatively small amount" of money was involved and FLUA Secretary Andy Tyler spoke of the overcrowding on the line. The delay hangs around level crossings in the vicinity of Ely North Junction itself. Passengers spoke of the "shocking" and "completely unbelievable" levels of overcrowding: "people have to ram each other in." Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin will be consulting on the proposed programme over the next few weeks before making a final decision.

Andrew Sinclair concludes his BBC report:[04:01] One bit of good news from tonight's meeting - the Transport Secretary said it should still be possible to provide half-hourly services from King's Lynn to Cambridge without waiting for the junction to improve. The Government's stressing tonight this scheme has only been delayed, it's not been scrapped, but this news is a blow to campaigners, it's also a bit embarrassing for local MPs."

Thursday 26 November 2015 - "Twice-hourly trains between King's Lynn and London put on backburner" is the headline of today's Eastern Daily Press story. "MPs vow to keep up pressure for key upgrade to West Norfolk rail line after work delayed" reports the Lynn News. The BBC news page quotes managing director of New Anglia LEP, Chris Starkie, as saying: "Hopefully overcrowding will be solved in the short term but what we want to see in the Ely North junction improvements is the increase in frequency". Under the heading "Rail project on hold for at least three years", Political Correspondent Andrew Sinclair explains the background here [see clip at 15:37]. ITV News coverage can be found here.

Thursday 26 November 2015 - KLFM96.7 carries the story "Half hourly train service delayed until at least 2019." "We desperately need the half-hourly service, which was promised from 2017, it's part of the franchise commitment" says King's Lynn & West Norfolk Council Deputy Leader Brian Long in an interview with the local radio station. He goes on to say, "we're going to have to get a group of all the parties ... and we're going to have to apply further pressure to Government..." "I'm having a meeting today with the Transport Secretary ... I want to find out exactly what's happened and when the work is scheduled for" Elizabeth Truss MP tells KLFM96.7 in another interview. "The first thing for me is securing the half-hourly service as soon as possible ... we know that demand on the line is growing hugely ... my plea to the Transport Secretary today is 'can we get this done as soon as possible ...' A number of other local MPs are joining me at the meeting ... Henry Bellingham ... Lucy Frazer ... [I will be asking] when is the half-hourly service going to happen, when is that upgrade going to happen ... we don't want to see any more delays... what we now need is certainty ... "

Wednesday 25 November 2015 - Network Rail publishes Sir Peter Hendy's review of its investment plans for CP5 [2014-2019]. His report states [page 24] "Network Rail is undertaking development on a scheme to allow the lengthening of peak time services on the Cambridge to Kings Lynn corridor from 4 to 8 car length to tackle overcrowding and will report back to DfT on costs and programme for delivery in spring of 2016." The Ely North Junction upgrade is to be completed in CP6 [2019-2024]. Sir Peter's report states [also page 24]: "Ely North Junction. This scheme will be delivered now in CP6 to allow co-ordination with safety critical level crossing works nearby. Despite this Network Rail is aware of the strong aspiration of the DfT and local user groups and MPs to see improvements to services on the Cambridge to Kings Lynn corridor as soon as practicable." Page 38 of the report lists the following schemes "to be delivered in CP5 - King's Lynn to Cambridge 8-car, Cambridge North station [also known as Cambridge Science Park station]" and, under projects now "to be developed and delivered in CP6 - Ely North Junction Capacity improvement." The Ely to Soham Doubling scheme (which is relevant to the Fen Line but not part of it) is also listed on page 38 as a project now "to be developed and delivered in CP6." Network Rail's announcement is here. The Secretary of State for Transport has accepted Sir Peter's recommendations, subject to a short period of consultation with relevant stakeholders.

Thursday 19 November 2015 - Today's Cambridge News reports Plans for 27,600 jobs and 630 homes near Cambridge Science Park station scrapped over sewage row." The paper covers Cambridge City Council's Development Scrutiny Sub-Committee meeting of 17 November 2015, [Item 7] which has recommended adoption of lesser-scale proposals (15,000 jobs and 440 homes) for the land around the Cambridge North station (Cambridge Science Park station) currently under construction and due to open in December 2016. The issue is whether the sewage works can or cannot be viably relocated; Cambridge City Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council's joint consultation of December 2014 and the report to the Sub-Committee give more background information. Meanwhile, developers of 'CB4' Brookgate have indicated that they expect to submit in December an application for revised details of the layout of the land around the new station. Construction works for the new station are visible from passing Fen Line trains and the new station would open up walking access to the existing jobs and education opportunities located nearby for users from Fen Line stations, particularly relevant in the light of house prices in Cambridge itself.

Tuesday 17 November 2015 - The Office of Rail and Road today writes to interested parties, setting out its next steps concerning its work resulting from train operators' applications for access to the East Coast Main Line. There are several competing applications, from both franchised train operators and from Open Access operators. These applications are for 'Long Distance High Speed' (LDHS) services and cannot all be granted as insufficient capacity exists to accommodate all the services being sought. Capacity on the East Coast Main Line for Great Northern Outer Suburban services, such as Kings Cross-Kings Lynn, and for future Thameslink services, such as Brighton-Cambridge, is not in dispute; we continue to maintain our monitoring of the on-going ORR work. The ORR's East Coast Main Line webpage, which "contains information on our consideration of capacity, performance and current applications for access on the East Coast Main Line (ECML)" collects the relevant documentation together, for example the ECML Capacity Options Report by Network Rail dated 11 September 2014.

Friday 13 November 2015 - "How much do you need to earn in Cambridge to buy a home?" asks Jenny Chapman in today's Cambridge News. With Cambridge the third most expensive place to buy (after London and Oxford) the answers are £178k earnings for a detached property, £128k for a semi, £109k for a terraced, and £79k for a flat. The median salary in Cambridge is just over £25k. We have said before that the massive growth on King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross services is greatly down to house prices, we are greatly concerned about intense overcrowding on Fen Line trains both south of and, increasingly, north of Cambridge, as places such as Ely and Downham Market become very popular commuter towns. We invite you to come to our AGM at 2p.m. on Saturday 21 November at St. John's Church, King's Lynn (adjacent to railway station). Great Northern's Passenger Service Director, Keith Jipps, will be speaking about the Fen Line's future and other railway managers will also be there to answer members' questions. If not already a FLUA member, you can join on the day.

Thursday 12 November 2015 - Nicola Shaw, Chief Executive of High Speed 1, was asked by the government to advise on the longer term future shape and financing of Network Rail and today she publishes a scoping report. She will reporting her advice to the government in early 2016.

Tuesday 3 November 2015 - Network Rail has responded to Rupert Moss-Eccardt's Freedom of Information request regarding level crossings associated with the Ely North Junction upgrade, asking Mr Moss-Eccardt to supply more detail as to the information he is seeking. They have 20 working days from receiving the clarification they seek to respond. Mr Moss-Eccardt's reply to Network Rail, dated today, includes the following:

"In terms of time frame, anything from the beginning of this year (2015) will probably suffice.

"The following news articles may be of assistance: http://edp24.co.uk/1.4166910 (where a Network Rail spokesman is said to mention closure) and http://www.elizabethtruss.com/news/candi... where SoS for DEFRA says Network Rail told her there were issues with the road crossing.

"The Ely North upgrade is still in CP5 so the paperwork for that should mention the crossings.

"The three road/rail crossings in question are the three on the B1382 in Queen Adelaide. The middle one has featured in your safety campaign for university students and all three have enforcement cameras as they are in the top 20 most dangerous crossings, apparently. They are the three called 'Queen Adelaide' as a result of this search: with postcode CB7 4UQ and a radius of one mile. I think they are Crossing 2529, Crossing 2530 and Crossing 2531."

Friday 30 October 2015 - "New talks promised in rail upgrade bid" reports the Eastern Daily Press in its print edition today. In an article mainly about the Norwich-London line, the 'EDP' makes it clear that "Local MPs have been lobbying hard to make sure the promises made ahead of the election are honoured, including on the Norwich London line and upgrades to the Ely [North] junction on the King's Lynn to London line." Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin told Chloe Smith MP that he would be discussing these matters with NR Chairman Sir Peter Hendy "later today" [i.e. yesterday].

Monday 26 October 2015 - Waterbeach resident Christine Taylor has submitted the following Freedom of Information request to Network Rail:
"Dear Network Rail
"It has been acknowledged that the Waterbeach to Kings Cross line is at capacity and the busiest in the Eastern Region. The village is also seeing expansions in housing as are the neighbouring villages with more and more commuters accessing Waterbeach Station. The rapid increase in passengers is set to continue.
"The recent incidents of people not being able to get on commuter trains and young school girls getting pushed off full carriages has been reported in the Cambridge News but I understand from the article it is too expensive to extend the platform.
http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/Teen-pushed-crowded-train-Cambridge-angry-mother/story-28050495-detail/story.html
"Please can you confirm how much it costs to extend the platform please?
"Secondly, I also understand that a business case has been done which rules out extending the good yards next to Waterbeach station as extra much needed parking on grounds of cost.
"I would like to have a copy of that business case please together with the costs and anticipated annual revenues for the car park extension.
"Thank you."
Currently waiting for a response from Network Rail Limited, they must respond promptly and normally no later than 23 November 2015.

Monday 26 October 2015 - Teen elbowed off crowded train to Cambridge as angry mother demands 'urgent action' headlines the Cambridge News on its front page today. Guinevere Glasfurd-Brown tells the Cambridge News how her daughter, was "roughly manhandled" as the 7.32am train to Cambridge [0651 King's Lynn-King's Cross service] arrived at Waterbeach, causing her to miss it and be 30 minutes late at University Technical College, Cambridge (located next to Addenbrooke's) which she attends. Mrs Glasfurd-Brown adds that her daughter "usually has to run up and down the platform when the train arrives looking for a space and almost always has to stand." The paper points out that "In just over 10 years -from 2002/2003 to 2013/2014 - the number of people using Waterbeach has increased from 176,639 users a year to 344,722, according to figures from the Office of Rail and Road. Over the same period the footfall at Cambridge railway station has gone from 5,478,112 users to 9,824,859."

Wednesday 21 October 2015 - The Lynn News reports "Last month, politicians and business leaders joined forces to urge the Department for Transport to commit to an early upgrade of the Ely North junction. The work is seen as crucial to enable half-hourly services to operate between King's Lynn and London King's Cross ...". The paper then refers to the letter sent to Elizabeth Truss MP by Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin in which he says: "I do not want to pre-empt his [Sir Peter Hendy's] findings [in his forthcoming report on Network Rail's enhancements programme], but I do recognise the extent of your support and the concern you have expressed to ensure the upgrade continues. The growth in rail demand in East Anglia is substantial and our franchise plans recognise this. I am strongly supportive of the efforts being made to generate economic growth through new and enhanced rail services. I have asked my officials to continue to work with you on this, once Sir Peter has reported back to me." Elizabeth Truss MP is reported as saying "I will continue to ensure the upgrade remains on track and will work with the DFT, MPs, councils and the business community in order that local residents and visitors can benefit from half hourly trains on the Kings Lynn to London line and increased services on the Thetford route." Referring to the group of MPs, council and business leaders, FLUA Chairman Colin Sampson said: "We are encouraged by all that we hear from that pressure group."

Wednesday 21 October 2015 - "Encouragement, but no start date, for Norfolk rail line upgrade campaign" is the headline in the Bury Free Press today, reporting on the letter sent by Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin to Elizabeth Truss MP concerning Ely North Junction. The paper reports "Ministers have insisted they support efforts to improve the rail links between Norfolk and London, but can't yet say when a key upgrade of the line will be carried out. But campaigners say they are encouraged by the latest comments to emerge from the Department for Transport this week. ... The work is seen as crucial to enable half-hourly services to operate between King's Lynn and London King's Cross, as well as improvements to other services using the link. ... And Colin Sampson, chairman of the Fen Line Users Association praised the "terrific fight" being put up by MPs, council and business leaders on the issue."

Wednesday 21 October 2015 - The Ely News reports today, "MPs welcome letter from Transport Secretary in response to fears over Ely North Junction upgrade delays. But they say there is still a lot of work to be done until the major project is delivered. ... South East Cambridgeshire MP Lucy Frazer said: "I welcome the Secretary of State's response, recognising the importance of rail infrastructure to Cambridgeshire. There is still more to be done to ensure that the Ely North Junction upgrade is delivered, and I will continue working with my parliamentary colleagues to keep progress on track ..."

Wednesday 21 October 2015 - Elizabeth Truss MP has today published a letter sent from the Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin MP (in response to the letter sent on 18 September 2015 by Elizabeth Truss and fellow MPs Henry Bellingham, Lucy Frazer, and Steven Barclay) concerning Ely North Junction. In a statement issued today, she "welcomes the letter from the Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin in which the Transport Secretary recognises the growth in East Anglia's rail network. Responding to the letter sent to his office on the 18th September by MPs, council leaders and the Greater Cambridgeshire and Peterborough LEP where concerns had been raised about a delay in upgrading the Ely North Rail Junction, the Transport Secretary has asked Department For Transport (DFT) officials to work with Elizabeth to maximise the potential of rail services in the region." This is a link to Secretary of State for Transport's letter to Elizabeth Truss.

Friday 16 October 2015 - The Office of Rail and Road, ORR, has concluded today that Network Rail is taking action to improve planning and delivery of rail enhancements, this conclusion arising from ORR's investigation into NR's delivery of the CP5 (2014-2019) enhancement programme. Included in ORR's enforcement documentation related to enhancements, is the "ORR evidence report - Network Rail's overall planning, management and delivery of its enhancements programme", which shows [Annex C, page 57] that development work on Project A001 Ely North Junction Capacity Improvement has been running 11 months late.

Thursday 1 October 2015 - 'The Key' smart ticketing is introduced on Great Northern stations from Royston to King's Cross. Speaking today, GTR Commercial Director David Innis said, "from next year The Key will be extended to the remaining Great Northern stations north of Royston, to Cambridge and King's Lynn, and at Peterborough."

Friday 25 September 2015 - MPs Elizabeth Truss, Henry Bellingham, Steven Barclay and Lucy Frazer, along with the Leaders of West Norfolk and East Cambridgeshire councils, and Cambridgeshire County Council, as well as the Chairman of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough LEP, have today written an open letter to the Secretary of State for Transport pressing for the implementation of the Ely North Junction upgrade as soon as possible. The letter highlights the importance of the contracted half-hourly King's Lynn-King's Cross service from May 2017 and stresses that the Ely upgrade is one of the LEP's "top priorities."

Tuesday 22 September 2015 - [Taken from the Freedom of Information Act responses of both the Department for Transport and Network Rail to Mr Moss-Eccardt regarding level crossings at Queen Adelaide and the proposed Ely North Junction upgrade scheme - see item dated Monday 28 December 2015 above]. Writing to the Department for Transport on 22 September 2015, in response to the DfT's letter of 25 August 2015, Network Rail states: "... we do recognise the importance DfT and Ministers have consistently placed on improving services on this route and recognise the urgency of these improvements. ... there are a few items of scope within [the] potential scheme that may have significant lead times, for example the possible need for new safe access across the railway at Littleport once 8 car trains are in operation [i.e. those calling at Littleport - 8-car trains operate non-stop through Littleport already], some signalling operations, some platform extensions (in some cases to avoid train trailing back over level crossings) and the need to check through the power supply implications of the longer trains. We will work with yourselves [DfT], ORR and GTR to take this development work forward as quickly as possible. We have already met with GTR for initial discussions with regard to 8 car operation ...."

In the letter of 22 September 2015, NR goes on to say "... noting the importance of moving forward with visible improvements for passengers on the route we would propose the following way forward to seek to unlock benefits as soon as possible:

" * Focus initial effort on improved peak services where crowding currently exists and need is greatest - as there are already 2 tph in the peaks today - this effectively means prioritise the peak 8 car scheme.

" * Work together with yourselves [DfT] and local authorities to review the level crossing situation and agree a short, medium, and long term approach to running additional services in the area.

" * In the meantime NR to work with DfT and GTR to review if any options do exist for any additional services within the risk parameters of the crossings in question. This could best be achieved by GTR making a revised proposal that could be tested through our normal TCRAG (Timetable Change Risk Assurance Group) process."

The NR letter of 22 September 2015 concludes: "The Department [for Transport] have recently established an Anglia Portfolio Board with Network Rail and potentially with operators to further co-ordinate planning, project development and franchising across the different parties in Anglia. The next meeting is in October [2015] and we propose that we cover next steps on all the above at that session."

Thursday 27 August 2015 - Network Rail has published its CP5 Enhancements Delivery Plan for June 2015. This states [Page 9] "The Secretary of State has asked Sir Peter Hendy to set out how Network Rail will deliver the CP5 Enhancement Programme in light of deliverability and cost challenges. As announced by the Secretary of State, Midland Main Line Electrification (ES0001) and North Trans Pennine Electrification East (LNE001) are now paused and will be re-planned as part of this proposal. The remainder of the projects in this plan are continuing but all are in [the] scope of the re-planning exercise. The re-planning proposals will be presented to the Secretary of Sate in the autumn. It is expected that the impact of the re-planning exercise will be reflected in an updated plan to be published in March 2016."

Tuesday 25 August 2015 - [Taken from the Freedom of Information Act responses of both the Department for Transport and Network Rail to Mr Moss-Eccardt regarding level crossings at Queen Adelaide and the proposed Ely North Junction upgrade scheme - see item dated Monday 28 December 2015 above]. Writing to Network Rail, a DRAFT letter from the DfT refers to "... the infrastructure enhancements required to support the DfT's long-standing commitment to have two Kings Lynn trains an hour for most of the day by December 2017. I must emphasise the commitment that has been made by Ministers to the successful and timely delivery of the improved Kings Lynn passenger service. Plans for infrastructure to support service enhancement were developed in Network Rail's study in September 2011 and were confirmed and funded by Ministers in the July 2012 HLOS. The GTR franchise agreement contracts the extra train services and we are in discussions with GTR on how this is best delivered. The Rail Minister has recently given assurances within Government that the improved Kings Lynn service is expected to be operational by December 2017. The current view is there are three phases of passenger improvements on the Cambridge-Ely-Kings Lynn route, each of which will require supporting infrastructure. These are:

"* Opening of Cambridge North station, currently anticipated for December 2016. We are discussing the train service options with the operators but it clear the increase in passenger demand from both the new station and from exogenous growth will require Kings Lynn-London services to be increased to 8 car in the peak.

"* Class 377 EMUs replace existing Class 365 EMUs on GTR Kings Lynn and Cambridge-London services during summer 2017.

"* Kings Lynn-London off-peak service increased to two trains in most off-peak hours by December 2017, with some gaps remaining where freight services to/from Middleton Towers are planned to operate.

"... [authority to progress] as quickly as practicable so that works can be undertaken in time to deliver the December 2017 train service improvements set out above. I am also authorising your proposal to undertake a GRIP 0-2 study to set out the costs and programme for moving to 8-car operations on the GTR services between Cambridge and Kings Lynn, as sought in your letter. Please can you advise when this is expected to be complete and confirm the service improvements in December 2016 remain achievable. I am concerned that without 8-car operation there will not be sufficient peak capacity to meet demand. I recognise the level crossing challenges Network Rail has now identified at Ely North Junction and I understand why you propose to defer the upgrade works to CP6. Provided the enhanced Kings Lynn passenger services can be operated as planned by December 2017 and the growth in Felixstowe-Nuneaton freight services is not constrained by this section of route, I think this may be a sensible option."

Saturday 22 August 2015 - "All change at Cambridge train station as ticket office shuts on Tuesday" reports the Cambridge News today. There will be a temporary ticket office opened just to the left of the station doors, whilst the work by Abellio Greater Anglia, which is expected to last about six months, takes place to improve the booking hall and ticket office. When finished, the work will mean more space and less congestion in the station buildings.

Friday 21 August 2015 - [Taken from the Freedom of Information Act responses of both the Department for Transport and Network Rail to Mr Moss-Eccardt regarding level crossings at Queen Adelaide and the proposed Ely North Junction upgrade scheme - see item dated Monday 28 December 2015 above]. In a letter to the Department of Transport [DfT], dated 21 August 2015, Network Rail [NR] writes: As you are aware Network Rail has been working with the Department for some time on options to improve services for passengers between Cambridge and Kings Lynn." The principal scheme under development to support this aspiration to date has been the re-doubling of Ely North Junction, which when allied with other improvements could yield the opportunity to run two trains per hour in most off peak hours to/from Kings Lynn. As we highlighted during the TSGN re-franchising process an increase in passenger train usage of the branch will trigger the need for an upgrade of a number of Level Crossings along the line of route. As promised then we have now completed an initial assessment of the works required on the branch itself. The line has a very high number of foot and user worked crossings and some Automatic Half barriers (AHBs). ... In addition to these costs as we have previously discussed, under guidance we now have in place for AHBs, the works at the junction itself may trigger the need to upgrade at least 2 of the 3 AHBs immediately north of the junction (the Queen Adelaide crossings). Normally in these circumstances we would opt for a full barrier crossing, however due to the proximity of the crossings the extra barrier down time associated with a full barrier option could actually increase risk. As part of the Ely North Junction scheme development we are currently working through the options, but there is a high chance that additional costs for these specific crossings will now fall to the scheme. With these factors in mind we are of the view that it may be sensible to defer the Ely North Junction project into early CP6 whilst we work with yourselves and local authorities to agree the right long term solutions to the level crossings on the Kings Lynn branch. In the meantime we recognise the importance of developing and delivering works that will improve the service to passengers on this route. As you have noted the most pressing need for service improvement is actually in the peak rather than in the off-peak where the currently 4 car restricted trains are regularly overcrowded."

Friday 24 July 2015 - Front page story of today's Eastern Daily Press reports King's Lynn Council Cabinet Member Brian Long speaking about a Councils/LEPs meeting with Network Rail. NR now says Ely North Junction upgrade will not be complete until Autumn 2018. It has also revealed another "hurdle" - an unspecified number of level crossings will need work to allow the half-hourly service as required by the Department for Transport to run. Councillor Long says this is "something that wasn't previously made clear to us." The Council is looking for an early introduction of 8-car trains at peak times and is lobbying for a study "to ascertain what work is needed on the level crossings." Network Rail said the upgrade of Ely North Junction remained "one of its commitments before 2019."

Saturday 11 July 2015 - North East Cambridgeshire MP, Steven Barclay, comments on the MPs' meeting with rail Minister Claire Perry, saying "I am keen to ensure that the twice hourly service between Kings Lynn and London which will benefit Littleport residents in particular, as well as those from Cambridgeshire, who use Downham Market, begins as scheduled by the end of 2017." He continues, the [Ely North] junction upgrade will also enable more freight to travel by rail and act as a further step forward in the delivery of the Wisbech to Cambridge Science Park rail service."

Friday 10 July 2015 - Radio station KLFM 96.7 reports today "King's Lynn still on track for two train an hour in 2017 say Norfolk MPs."

Thursday 9 July 2015 - Following a meeting between MPs and rail Minister Claire Perry, North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham says, "We were extremely relieved and pleased that the Minister was able to give assurances that the half-hourly services are still on schedule by end of 2017." Cabinet Minister and South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss adds, "The DFT confirmed that studies are still ongoing but the minister understands that the delivery of the half-hourly service on the Kings Lynn to London line by end of 2017 is a priority project for me and I will continue to work with my fellow MPs on this." The full story was issued by the Lynn News at 17.22 today.

Monday 29 June 2015 - "Network Rail insists it is still committed to upgrading the Ely North Junction - however the work may not be completed until 2019" reports the Ely News today. "Network Rail originally hoped to have the junction fully upgraded by the end of 2017 but this week a spokesman said bosses hoped the work would be completed by 2019."

Friday 26 June 2015 - "Rail service chiefs have insisted they remain committed to a multi-million pound upgrade of the network serving Norfolk, despite a review of the programme.... [Secretary of State Patrick McLoughlin's speech] immediately triggered fears over the future of the project to improve the Ely North Junction, a key bottleneck on the route from Lynn to the capital. A review of the project is underway, amid concerns over the potential implications of additional services on three level crossings to the north of the site. The study is expected to be completed this autumn." The Lynn News report continues "But a Network Rail spokesman said today: The intention is to do it in control period 5 (the current programme scheduled for completion in 2019)." The Lynn News article confirms that Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament for South West Norfolk Elizabeth Truss is to meet Rail Minister Claire Perry next month [July] and stresses that "the project is particularly vital to enable half-hourly trains to run between King's Lynn and London King's Cross, as provided for under the terms of the contract awarded to the current franchise holder Great Northern."

Friday 26 June 2015 - Cabinet Minister and Member of Parliament for South West Norfolk Elizabeth Truss MP issues a statement that she is meeting the Minister next month [July] to discuss Ely North Junction. She says "Along with my fellow MPs in the region we are keen to ensure the works progress as quickly as possible. The economic benefits to East Anglia are tremendous and this is the message I will make to the rail minister." North West Norfolk MP Henry Bellingham has confirmed that the meeting with the Minister, Claire Perry MP, at which he will also be present, will be held in "10 days' time."

Thursday 18 June 2015 - The front page story on today's Eastern Daily Press covers the rapidly growing concern that upgrade works at Ely North Junction could be delayed. The EDP quotes Nick Daubney, Leader of the Borough Council of King's Lynn & West Norfolk, as saying "Having already got the news the funding for this work had been approved, I'm bitterly disappointed there could be delays ... Our links to London and Cambridge are essential to the prosperity of King's Lynn and the surrounding area." Heather Garrod, President of the West Norfolk Chamber Council, also expresses her organisation's concern about the possible delay. The Eastern Daily Press also contains a very supportive Editorial, lending its voice to the calls for quicker action.

Monday 15 June 2015 - Business leaders in West Norfolk have written to Network Rail to seek clarity over the Ely North Junction upgrade scheme - they are concerned over reported delays to its implementation. Radio station KLFM 96.7 reports a Department for Transport spokesperson as saying "As part of our long term economic plan this government is committed to improving our railways and Ely North Junction is part of our £38 billion Rail Investment Strategy for the next 5 years. We continue to work with Network Rail and the rail regulator to determine costs and time-scales of the delivery of major rail investment programmes." Anthony Goodrich of King's Lynn Town Centre Partnership speaks to KLFM 96.7 about the importance to the town's economy of two trains an hour between King's Lynn and London here.

Monday 15 June 2015 - The London Stansted Cambridge Consortium (LSCC) launches its case for upgrading the West Anglia Main Line between Cambridge and London Liverpool Street today. [Fen Line Kings Lynn-Kings Cross trains traverse the northern portion of the West Anglia Main Line between Kings Lynn and Cambridge before crossing to the East Coast Main Line for the final part of their journeys to London Kings Cross. The LSCC report is concerned with that part of the West Anglia Main Line south of Cambridge].

Wednesday 10 June 2015 - South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss has today written to Rail Minister Claire Perry seeking a meeting to discuss the progress of infrastructure upgrade works at Ely North Junction. The scheme is one of a shortlist of HLOS "Named Schemes" required by the Secretary of State for Transport to be implemented in Control Period CP5 (2014-2019).

Thursday 21 May 2015 - Network Rail has submitted revised planning applications for the new "Cambridge Science Park station" at Chesterton; the site lies partially within Cambridge and partially within the South Cambridgeshire District Council area. See Cambridge City Council ref. 15/0994/FUL and South Cambridgeshire District Council ref. S/1236/15/FL .

Tuesday 31 March 2015 - [Taken from the Freedom of Information Act responses of both the Department for Transport and Network Rail to Mr Moss-Eccardt regarding level crossings at Queen Adelaide and the proposed Ely North Junction upgrade scheme - see item dated Monday 28 December 2015 above]. A letter from the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport [Claire Perry] dated 31 March 2015, reads: "Network Rail's scheme development has taken longer than expected because more assessment has been required than initially foreseen of the interaction between the junction upgrade and the nearby level crossings. Just north of the junction are the three Queen Adelaide level crossings. The diverging rail layout from Ely North junction means it is possible for road traffic stopped for one crossing to queue back to obstruct a second crossing. Recent safety guidance on Automatic Half Barrier level crossings suggest it is sensible to develop the Ely North Junction scheme alongside developing an understanding of what alteration may be required to nearby crossings. There is both growth in passenger and freight services to allow for and growth and change in Ely road traffic to accommodate, the latter requiring close work with the local authority to understand. This delay to the scheme development may mean the end delivery date for the Ely North Junction project moves back, but Department officials have made it clear to Network Rail we expect completion by early 2019. The junction improvements are required if both the forecast growth in Felixstowe freight traffic and the enhanced Kings Lynn service is to be operated."

Friday 27 March 2015 - Our Counties Connected rail prospectus published by the New Anglia LEP. The document states it is "authored by New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership and supported by a strong alliance of MPs from all parties, local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships, businesses and rail user groups. It has also been produced in close consultation with Abellio Greater Anglia and Network Rail to ensure the proposals are feasible [page 3]. ... The Ely North Junction is a bottleneck that must be improved. Network Rail has committed to some improvements but the junction should be completely remodelled to fully address the capacity and frequency shortfall. A remodelled junction would generate £100 million for the economy and improve connectivity throughout East Anglia. It would allow for half-hourly services between King's Lynn and Cambridge, Norwich and Cambridge, London and Stansted Airport; and an hourly service between Ipswich and Peterborough. Complete improvements would also unlock the development of the Felixstowe to Birmingham freight corridor and allow full dualling of the rail line between Soham to Ely enabling very long freight trains to clear Ely rapidly [page 5]. ... The Great Northern Route runs from London's major terminals to stations in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Norfolk. From 2018, Thameslink services will connect from Cambridge, Peterborough and Stevenage through to destinations south of London including Gatwick and Brighton. There has been substantial investment in Great Northern services to meet continued growth in passenger numbers .... But more investment is needed. Thousands of new homes are planned along the line at King's Lynn, Downham Market, Ely and Littleport. These new developments will support 27,000 new jobs and more people will rely on the Great Northern Route [page 9]. ... Short term priorities to 2024: * Fully upgrade Ely North Junction. This will enable half-hourly services between King's Lynn-Cambridge-London King's Cross, Ipswich to Peterborough and Norwich to Cambridge. * Provide rolling stock with air-conditioning for the King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross service by 2016 ... *Upgrade the power supply for the service from King's Lynn-Cambridge-London King's Cross. * Introduce European Rail Train Management System (ERTMS) on the London King's Cross-Peterborough and the London King's Cross-Royston routes [Page 9] ... * Secure capacity and frequency improvements from capacity released on the East Coast Main Line from HS2 phase 2 post 2033, including Great Northern, Thameslink and East Coast long distance services {page 9] ... Long-term vision beyond 2024: * Introduce ERTMS on the Royston to King's Lynn route. * Achieve further journey time reductions for all services [page 9].... Cambridgeshire Key priorities: * Build four new stations to serve Cambridge Science Park, Waterbeach, Addenbrookes and Soham. A new station at Soham should be delivered alongside Soham to Ely track-doubling upgrades. Cambridge Science Park station should be built on the King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross line and opened by May 2016. * Improve the service from London King's Cross to King's Lynn via Cambridge and to Peterborough. There should be longer trains and more frequent services including express services. The Intercity Express Programme (IEP) standard rolling stock should be introduced on the service. [page 14] ... strengthen the power supply between Cambridge and King's Lynn ... * Introduce full barriers at Waterbeach station level crossing [page 15] ... Connecting East Anglia - Short-term priorities to 2024: * There should be a complete remodelling of the Ely North junction. This will allow for a half-hourly service from King's Lynn to Cambridge [page 16] ... 'Our Counties Connected' is the work of a powerful alliance of five counties - all speaking with one voice [page 17]."

Wednesday 11 March 2015 - following further consultation with Members (see news item for Saturday 7 February 2015) we sent the Association's response to the Department for Transport's consultation on the East Anglia Rail Franchise consultation today. Having received no adverse comments on our 'Combined Response to four inter-related rail consultations', (dated 29 January 2015) we asked the Department for Transport to treat the relevant parts of that document as our formal response to the East Anglia Rail Franchise. Members were also able to make their own comments directly to the DfT whilst its consultation was still open (now closed).

Friday 20 February 2015 - [Taken from the Freedom of Information Act responses of both the Department for Transport and Network Rail to Mr Moss-Eccardt regarding level crossings at Queen Adelaide and the proposed Ely North Junction upgrade scheme - see item dated Monday 28 December 2015 above]. The Department of Transport writes to Network Rail: "Note though that we still want the 2tph Kings Lynn and F2N capacity delivered in CP5, largely through Ely North Junction. Strong passenger growth in both peak and off peak is being reported by the TOC, and good economic reasons why Kings Lynn is required asap. The freight paths is a TT [timetabling] issue that looks capable of resolution; the level crossing issue Ely-Kings Lynn concerns me as it is counter-intuitive that increasing from 1tph to 2tph should engender such risk as to make current arrangements unacceptable. We're prepared to consider change control [change to regulated outputs] so long as we get the funded and specified outcome in as short a time as practicable."

Friday 20 February 2015 - [Taken from the Freedom of Information Act responses of both the Department for Transport and Network Rail to Mr Moss-Eccardt regarding level crossings at Queen Adelaide and the proposed Ely North Junction upgrade scheme - see item dated Monday 28 December 2015 above]. Network Rail writes to the Department of Transport consulting on change control for the Ely North Junction scheme. "Owing to the reasons stated below, it has been necessary to make changes to the regulated milestone dates for the Ely North Junction Capacity Improvement Project in CP5.

"1. Additional development work being necessary. This is linked with changes to the regulations around AHB level crossings and also the introduction of Common Safety Method. A focus going forward will be on the interface with the 4 level crossings adjacent to Ely North Junction in light of the findings of GRIP 3 development stage and also the introduction of Common Safety Method regulations.

"2. Alignment of the Ely North Junction project with the Felixstowe to Nuneaton work package."

The proposed new dates are: "GRIP 3 completion -Single option selection -May 2016 - Regulated

"GRIP 4 completion - Single option scope defined - January 2017 - Indicative

"GRIP 6 start - Start on site - August 2017 - Indicative

"GRIP 6 completion - Infrastructure ready for use - September 2018 - Indicative.

"The GRIP 3 milestone is subject to further review of the schedule and is to be confirmed by Infrastructure Enhancements Delivery Plan update."

Thursday 19 February 2015 - The Department for Transport has today published its Prospectus for the East Anglia Rail Franchise (please note that the Govia Thameslink Railway "Great Northern" King's Lynn-King's Cross services are part of the Thameslink Southern and Great Northern franchise). The OJEU Notice for the East Anglia Rail Franchise can be found here.

Thursday 19 February 2015 - David Cameron, the Prime Minister, spoke today at Felixstowe and outlined the Long Term Economic Plan for Eastern England. As part of that announcement, the Timetable for Action - Implementation in the East of England 2015-2030 states the following: "2016 - September 2016 Network Rail Initial Industry Plan for the five years of funding from 2019 onwards will be informed by a Network Rail study looking at the costs and benefits of electrifying the railway between Felixstowe and Birmingham [via Ely] ... government is extending in 2015 the study already underway of the East-West Rail (Bedford to Cambridge) to explore the options for the Eastern section of the line. Specifically the study will consider how East West Rail could connect Oxford with Ipswich and Norwich. The study will also consider the possibility of a new station south of Cambridge at the new Addenbrookes campus, with a report expected in 2016 ... government has committed to additional Local Growth Funding between 2016 and 2021, through a number of Eastern Local Growth Deal expansions, including: £38m for Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership which will include contribution to the construction of a new Ely Southern Bypass [relevant to Ely Station level crossing works] ... 2019 - completion of upgraded railway junctions at Ely and Peterborough and capacity enhancements on the Felixstowe - Birmingham line that will enable both growth in Port of Felixstowe container traffic to be met and growth in Kings Lynn and East Coast main line passenger services ..."

Thursday 19 February 2015 - [Taken from the Freedom of Information Act responses of both the Department for Transport and Network Rail to Mr Moss-Eccardt regarding level crossings at Queen Adelaide and the proposed Ely North Junction upgrade scheme - see item dated Monday 28 December 2015 above]. The Department of Transport writes to Network Rail on the subject of "Ely North Junction meeting: The doubt in ORR's mind I think hinges around the link between the scheme and the Kings Lynn 2tph off peak. We have said to ORR same as we said to you that the specific service aspiration is contingent on a number of other things including TCRAG [Timetable Change Route Assessment Group] review of Level Crossings and in a few hours resolution of the freight path conflicts and not solely dependent on the junction scheme."

Monday 16 February 2015 - The Network Rail CP5 Enhancements Delivery Plan December 2014, published today, states [page 57] "Ely North Junction Capacity Improvement ... Project reference code A001 ...The programme for this scheme is under review update, Network Rail will work with its customers and Department for Transport to achieve an agreed programme of delivery. An update to the delivery plan for this project will be provided as part of the March 2015 update [to the CP5 Enhancements Delivery Plan]". [Note: The link to the Enhancements Delivery Plan dated December 2014 seems to be broken and we can trace no replacement for it. If you are a FLUA Member, or work for the railway industry or the media and would like to see this document, please email Andy Tyler, Secretary - work email address if industry or media enquiry, please - and we will email you a copy].

Saturday 7 February 2015 - the Association's Committee today ratified FLUA's Combined Response to four inter-related consultations dated 29 January 2015 (those on the GTR December 2015 timetable, on NR's draft Anglia Route Study, on NR's "Improving Connectivity", and on the forthcoming East Anglia Rail Franchise). In the case of the East Anglia Rail Franchise (which does not cover GTR's King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross services) this response is subject to further consultation with members. If you are a Member and would like to comment on the East Anglia Rail Franchise elements of the Combined Response (which is still in draft form as far as the East Anglia Rail Franchise elements only are concerned) you will find a link to this in the Members' Section of this website. Alternatively, Members can email or write to Andy Tyler for a copy of the Combined Response. If Members have any comments, they are asked to submit these in writing (email or letter) to Andy Tyler before Friday 6 March 2015 (to permit time for adequate consideration to be given to them). There will be coverage of the Combined Response in The Fenman 2015 No 1; this is due to be sent to members towards the end of next week. Please note that you can comment directly to the Department for Transport on the East Anglia Rail Franchise before 16 March 2015, when its consultation period for this closes. If you work in the rail industry or for a public body and would like a copy of the Combined Response, please send your work email address to Andy Tyler and a copy will be emailed to you.

Tuesday 13 January 2015 - The office of Rail Regulation has written to Network Rail, as part of its quarterly Enhancements Delivery Plan (EDP) change control process, saying: "A001 Ely North Junction Capacity Improvement: [Your] request is to delay the regulated output date for GRIP 3 from December 2014 to May 2016 and the indicative GRIP 4 and 6 completion dates to January 2017 and September 2018 respectively.... Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has objected to this change stating it will impact upon its ability to deliver their franchise commitment of a half hourly service to Kings Lynn from May 2017. You have also not provided written evidence of DfT support for the proposed change. We note that in your formal response to the TSGN franchise bid review, Network Rail recognised the aspiration to operate 2 trains per hour on the Kings Lynn branch and that the proposed change in service level needed to be subject to a review of infrastructure implications on line of route. Your formal response also noted that Network Rail would work with the successful bidder's timetable proposal to assess these issues and that the Ely North Junction project remained subject to the change control process with a delivery estimate of 2017 at the time of the response. ... We do not accept your proposed GRIP 3 milestone as it is not aligned with GTR's franchise commitments."

Friday 19 December 2014 - It has come to our attention today that Network Rail has issued a consultation document Improving Connectivity which is germane to the current DfT consultation on the East Anglia Rail Franchise. We do not know when this draft report was published; NR's consultation period ends on 31 January 2015.

Friday 7 November 2014 - Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has today launched a consultation on its proposed December 2015 timetable (i.e. that which will run from the December of next year). Though there are no changes proposed for Great Northern Outer services from December 2015, the consultation document gives background information on the proposed half-hourly King's Lynn-King's Cross service (due to operate from May 2017, following the upgrading of Ely North Junction) and the proposed cross-London Thameslink services to and from Cambridge (due to operate from 2018). GTR, which operates a management contract on behalf of the Government, states "From May 2017, following Network Rail improvements the junction north of Ely, train services between London Kings Cross and Kings Lynn will be increased in frequency to two trains per hour all day (with the exception of when existing freight trains operate on the route). It is proposed to maintain one train per hour which will call all stations north of Cambridge and the second to call at principal stations only." GTR's consultation on the proposed December 2015 timetable closes on Friday 30 January 2015.

Friday 24 October 2014 - [Taken from the Freedom of Information Act responses of both the Department for Transport and Network Rail to Mr Moss-Eccardt regarding level crossings at Queen Adelaide and the proposed Ely North Junction upgrade scheme - see item dated Monday 28 December 2015 above]. Writing to Network Rail on the subject of the timing of the Ely North Junction scheme, the Department for Transport [DfT] says:

"* Despite the current situation with CP5 overspends elsewhere and the proposal as part of the affordability review that Ely North Junction scheme could be moved back to CP6 for affordability reasons, DfT would like to see the scheme positioned so it could be delivered in CP5.

"* Network Rail has put scheme development on hold since the summer to allow for an initial assessment of the options for major works to nearby level crossings. Current risk assessments on nearby AHB's [Automatic Half Barrier crossings] and recent guidance issued for AHBs suggest it is sensible to develop the Ely North Junction scheme alongside developing an understanding of what may be required in terms of alterations to nearby crossings - in particular given the impact of F2N [Felixstowe to Nuneaton freight] growth on those crossings.

"* This delay to the scheme development is likely to mean the end delivery date for the Ely North Junction project moves backwards but Network Rail will update this position at the next meeting in the new year [2015].

"* Network Rail presented some initial options for resolution of the Level Crossing issues at the 3 level crossings immediately North of the Junction (the 3 Queen Adelaide crossings) and at Kiln Lane just south.

"* The level crossing solutions - at least on the Peterborough line are sizeable undertakings and it is not yet possible to say when they could be delivered. It is too early to say whether they can or indeed should be delivered at the same time as the junction redoubling scheme. This needs to be discussed further at the next meeting.

"* Funding for the crossing development work needs to be agreed. The main driver is F2N [Felixstowe to Nuneaton] traffic.

"* It was noted that operation of a 2nd off peak train in most hours to Kings Lynn - which is a GTR franchise commitment - has always required an assessment of level crossings on the full line of route through to Kings Lynn. NR commenced that assessment on receipt of the winning bidder timetable. It was noted necessary works could be identified as part of that process and at this point NR does not have funding to deliver such works. NR has highlighted this as part of the re-franchising process pre ITT and as part of bid review. It was agreed this matter will be discussed further at the next meeting in the new year when more information is available.

"* Following the previous meeting DfT provided a sample service spec for above the time periods to test the medium term fit of the doubled junction with aspirations. NR have completed this work and will provide a copy of the report.

"The 2nd off peak train to Kings Lynn - train planning issues

" * It was noted without the doubling of the single leads at Ely NJ this franchise commitment will not be operable in CP5

" * Even with the doubling - train planning work to support the original scheme development in 2011/12 - and NR's bid review on the TSGN process highlighted that the service was not operable in all off peak hours due to the presence of freight paths on the Kings Lynn branch in some hours that conflict with the new paths - as a result of the single line sections on the branch (not as a result of the alterations to Ely NJ). The Route Study will set out the longer term solutions to these conflicts but it was noted in the meantime careful messaging is required re: the outputs of the North Junction scheme in isolation so that expectations are not raised - and the scheme is understood as a building block. The Route Study will set out this message - and set out the other building blocks that would help deliver a good service pattern alongside the Ely NJ scheme...."

Monday 20 October 2014 - The Govia Thameslink franchise agreement execution version, the Govia Thameslink conditions precedent agreement, and the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise train services requirements - including 2 trains per hour King's Lynn-King's Cross services from May 2017 - are published by the Department for Transport together on one page here.

The Train Service Requirements ("ECML 2 East Coast Mainline Minimum Service Specification and First and Last Train Specification") of September 2013 sets out, inter alia, the minimum southbound Kings Lynn-Kings Cross service from May 2017. This may be summarised broadly as:

* morning peak to Cambridge and Kings Cross - 2 tph from all Fen Line stations;

* off-peak to Cambridge and Kings Cross - 2 tph from Kings Lynn, Downham Market and Ely, and 1 tph from Watlington, Littleport and Waterbeach.

The Train Service Requirements ("ECML 2 East Coast Mainline Minimum Service Specification and First and Last Train Specification") of September 2017 sets out, inter alia, the minimum northbound Kings Cross-Kings Lynn service from May 2017. This may be summarised broadly as:

* off-peak from Kings Cross and Cambridge - 2 tph to Ely, Downham Market and Kings Lynn, and 1 tph to Waterbeach, Littleport and Watlington;

* afternoon peak from Kings Cross and Cambridge - 2 tph to all Fen Line stations.

Sunday 14 September 2014 - Great Northern (part of Govia Thameslink Railway) takes over King's Lynn-King's Cross services.

Tuesday 22 July 2014 - 'Great Railway Journeys' television star Michael Portillo officially inaugurates the heritage-inspired refurbishment of King's Lynn station, speaking warmly about soon-to-depart franchisee First Capital Connect, Network Rail, and FLUA. FCC has issued photographs of the inauguration and of the works to the station. Mr. Portillo was Minister of State for Transport when Government authority to electrify the Cambridge-King's Lynn section was granted on 7 February 1989.

Saturday 24 May 2014 - Govia's TSGN website outlines benefits to Great Northern - and other routes - arising from the new TSGN franchise, stating "May 2017 Kings Lynn service becomes half hourly." The 'Great Northern Outers' improvements factsheet lists forthcoming improvements.

Friday 23 May 2014 - Department for Transport (DfT) awards Thameslink Southern & Great Northern (TSGN) franchise to Govia Thameslink Railway Ltd., subject to the normal 10 days 'standstill' period. The DfT's press release includes an interactive map which contains the following text (hover your mouse over the relevant station name) "King's Lynn - *More modern air-conditioned trains replace the current units. * Off-peak services to King's Cross will double to half-hourly in each direction by 2017" and "Cambridge - *More modern air-conditioned trains on the Cambridge Express. *Nearly 3000 extra seats to London in morning peak. Total capacity more than doubled. *Off-peak journeys to King's Cross cut to less than 50 minutes from 2018. *6 off-peak trains per hour to and from central London from 2018. *2 trains per hour to Brighton via Gatwick Airport from 2018. * 2 trains per hour to Tattenham Corner from 2018." The Govia press release contains more information.

Monday 28 April 2014 - The Secretary of State for Transport informs Parliament that that he has directly awarded an agreement to extend the Abellio Greater Anglia franchise for 27 Months. This will ensure continuity of service until a new Greater Anglia franchise, expected to start in October 2016, is let. Part of the new agreement provides for a doubling of the current levels of off-peak services between Cambridge and Stansted Airport (between 0900 and 1600) on Mondays to Fridays. Abellio Greater Anglia will continue to operate King's Lynn-Cambridge-Liverpool Street services during Mondays to Fridays peak-hours.

Wednesday 15 April 2014 - Certain Intercity Express Programme contracts have been amended and restated, and dated today. These can be found at the Department for Transport's "Intercity Express Programme (IEP) technical specification and contracts" webpage. The amended and restated East Coast IEP Network Master Availability and Reliability Agreement states (Appendix F to Schedule 1, Part 2, East Coast) that Hitchin to King's Lynn via Cambridge is defined as an IEP "Core Route" and that Hitchin to Peterborough via Ely and Ely North Junction to Ely West Junction are defined as IEP "Diversionary Routes." These same route definitions are also to be found in Appendix A to Part C of Schedule 1, East Coast IEP Network" in the amended and restated East Coast IEP Network Train Availability and Reliability Agreement.

Monday 31 March 2014 - The Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Enterprise Partnership submits its growth strategy to government, linking housing, transport and skills. The Enterprise Partnership's Strategic Economic Plan calls for "a transport network fit for an economically vital high growth area" and includes the provision of a "Kings Lynn to Cambridge and London Kings Cross half hourly frequency" as part of its transport strategy. All six Fen Line stations are within the Enterprise Partnership's area.

Monday 31 March 2014 - Network Rail's CP5 Enhancements Delivery Plan describes Project A001 "Ely North Junction Capacity Improvement" in more detail [page 56]. The objective of the project is to develop "a scheme which improves capacity in the area by developing an operationally flexible junction that can deliver multiple train moves simultaneously." A blockade of 3 weeks is envisaged, with the infrastructure ready for use in May 2017. The Government's specification for 2 London trains per hour (Mondays-Saturdays) to/from King's Lynn from May 2017 is contained in the Minimum Service Specification - Invitation to Tender for the TSGN (Thameslink Southern and Great Northern) franchise [tables ECML1 and ECML2]. The winning bidder, which will take over King's Lynn-King's Cross and other services from September this year, is expected to be announced by the Government in May.

Monday 31 March 2014 - "Fewer delays and more reliable services for Anglia passengers" says Network Rail about its CP5 Delivery Plan for the 2014-2019 period. Key projects over the next five years include "rebuild Ely Junction North relieving congestion between Norwich and Cambridge on the West Anglia line" [Note: there is no mention of this also being necessary for two trains per hour to run to and from King's Lynn]. However, NR has previously said that Ely North Junction needs upgrading for half-hourly trains to run to Downham Market and King's Lynn and, speaking to the Lynn News, M.P. Elizabeth Truss welcomes the "really positive news."

Tuesday 18 February 2014 - The Department for Transport and FirstGroup announce current First Capital Connect franchise extended until Sunday 14 September 2014, the anticipated start date of the new Thameslink Southern & Great Northern franchise.

Wednesday 18 December 2013 - Network Rail's Draft CP5 Delivery Plan contains Project A001 and states [page 48] that: "This project is to develop a scheme which improves capacity in the [Ely] area by allowing parallel moves to/from Kings Lynn and to/from Norwich."

Friday 6 December 2013 - Department for Transport publishes Tech connected prospectus, which states that "plans for a new station at Cambridge's Science Park" - to be located on the Fen Line - are "progressing rapidly."

Thursday 31 October 2013 - ORR publishes Final determination of Network Rail's outputs and funding for 2014-19. Chapter 11, paragraph 9.202 (page 385) states "Freight benefits'... there are many freight benefits accruing from other schemes. [...] Another example is the remodelling of Ely North Junction to provide for forecast freight flows across East Anglia as well as enhanced passenger services between Cambridge and each of King's Lynn and Norwich."

Thursday 26 September 2013 - the Government's minimum Fen Line service specification from May 2017 (M-F) to include half-hourly King's Cross services, following upgrade work at Ely North Junction.

Thursday 26 September 2013 - Invitation to Tender for Thameslink Southern & Great Northern published, including information about future half-hourly Fen Line services to and from London Kings Cross. The accompanying Stakeholder Briefing Document states: [paragraphs 4.94 and 4.95] "... the Great Northern Line serves the growing regional centres of Peterborough and Cambridge, and significant intermediate stations. As well as being commuter destinations in their own right, they provide large numbers of commuters travelling into and out of London. ... There will be no changes to the existing train service requirement until May 2017, when investment by Network Rail in improvements to Ely North Junction should facilitate an increase in the service between King's Lynn and Cambridge to provide 2 trains per hour all day, Monday to Saturday (except in those hours where existing freight train paths prevent this)."

Monday 5 August 2013 - The Department for Transport publishes its Thameslink rolling stock and depot agreements webpage, including the Manufacture and Supply Agreement between Siemens PLC, Cross London Trains Limited and First Capital Connect Limited and dated Thursday 27 June 2013. Annex B of the Train Infrastructure Interface Specification (contained within this Agreement) includes "East Coast Main Line - Belle Isle Junction to Cambridge" defined as a "Main route" and "East Coast Main Line - Cambridge to Kings Lynn" defined as a "Feasibility Route". There are other Feasibility Routes (all south of the Thames) and the term is defined within the Agreement as "Other potential routes required to support KO2 [Key Output 2 of the Thameslink Programme] or initial service deployment." The Agreement also makes clear that Feasibility Routes are shown for "information purposes only and shall have no bearing on the interpretation of this Agreement."

Wednesday 3 July 2013 - Cambridgeshire County Council has submitted a planning application [ref. C/05001/13/CC] for the proposed Cambridge Science Park station located on the Fen Line.

Wednesday 26 June 2013 - "Passenger services start using Hitchin flyover. Work on a £47m scheme to remove a major bottleneck to help reduce delays and increase future capacity has been completed" says Network Rail today. [Northbound First Capital Connect services, including those between King's Cross and King's Lynn will be phased in over the next few months. Northbound trains that do not use the flyover have to cross the East Coast Main Line (ECML) southbound tracks, hence the capacity constraint; southbound trains, including Fen Line services, are able to join the southbound ECML tracks without having to cross the northbound lines.]

Wednesday 24 April 2013 - Network Rail has now issued a consultation draft of its London and South East Market Study which includes the King's Cross-King's Lynn Fen Line within its scope.

The April 2013 issue of KL Magazine has an interview with Keith Jipps, Customer Service Director of First Capital Connect [pages 16 and 17]. 'KL' asks Mr Jipps: "How close are we to seeing a half-hourly service from King's Lynn to King's Cross?" and he replies: "We'd love to double the frequency of the services to King's Lynn, and Network Rail's planned upgrade of a critical junction at Ely North brings that possibility closer." Tackled on the overcrowding issue, Mr Jipps tells 'KL' "The difficulty on the route from Cambridge to King's Lynn is the short length of the platforms at many of the stations." He also mentions FLUA, saying: "Due to their campaigning, for example, we provided a new late night service to Littleport, Downham Market, Watlington and King's Lynn on Thursdays, leaving London at 11.15pm."

Tuesday 26 March 2013 - the Secretary of State for Transport announced the government's long-term plans for franchising to Parliament today. The accompanying Fresh Start for Franchising states that Department for Transport and Network Rail investment "will bring more trains and services to the network. These include: ... increased passenger services between Cambridge and Kings Lynn, and Cambridge and Norwich following work to improve Ely North Junction." The current First Capital Connect franchise is to be extended.

Tuesday 19 February 2013 - The Department for Transport publishes "Intercity Express Programme technical specification and contracts." The East Coast IEP Network Master Availability and Reliability Agreement states (Appendix F to Schedule 1, Part 2, East Coast) that Hitchin to King's Lynn via Cambridge is defined as a "Core Route" and that Hitchin to Peterborough via Ely and Ely North Junction to Ely West Junction are defined as "Diversionary Routes." These same route definitions are also to be found in Appendix A to Part C of Schedule 1, East Coast IEP Network" in the East Coast IEP Network Train Availability and Reliability Agreement.

Thursday 31 January 2013 - today the Secretary of State for Transport announced the government's plans for the three paused franchises, including the Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise. The current Thameslink/Great Northern franchise operated by FCC ends in September 2013, but the contract allows for a 28-week extension, which the government intends to exercise. It is then expected that an interim franchise (for a maximum of 2 years) would follow that, before the longer-term 7-year Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise is awarded. A full franchising timetable will be published in the Spring.

Thursday 10 January 2013 - the Secretary of State for Transport has today stated that the Brown Review of the rail franchising programme "recommends that the government should determine, by February, our plans for the three franchise competitions which I put on hold last October. I accept that recommendation". The combined Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise is one of the three.

Tuesday 8 January 2013 - Network Rail has included an upgrade to Ely North Junction in its Strategic Business Plan 2014-2019 to enable "increasing the number of trains running between King's Lynn and London". The relevant text of NR's release for the East of England reads: "Remodelling Ely North Junction will relieve a key bottle neck on the West Anglia main line, enabling more passenger and freight services, including increasing the number of trains running between King's Lynn and London."

Thursday 22 November 2012 - Network Rail has written to the Minister of State for Transport outlining Ely North Junction study progress and its next steps. Local M.P. Elizabeth Truss has published today full details of the Network Rail letter, sent to Minister of State for Transport Simon Burns from Network Rail Chief Executive David Higgins on 16 November 2012. The letter states: "To date, it has been assumed that the infrastructure solution required with be delivered during Control Period 5 subject to funding being confirmed. We are aware that this Scheme is seen as a priority by local MPs and remain committed to keeping then and yourself up to date on progress. The Project will complete initial feasibility in February [2013] and, at that stage, we will be in a position to give you a clear date range for when delivery is likely to be achieved. Between February and Autumn 2013, we will be undertaking further development - including detailed surveys and design work and importantly possession plans [the time when the railway would availability for construction works and not available to run train services] - and once this work is completed, we will be able to give you a specific target delivery date."

Wednesday 30 October 2012 - The Minister of State for Transport has confirmed to local MPs that a half-hourly frequency to/from King's Lynn ("the 30 minute condition") will be a requirement for the new franchisee.

Monday 15 October 2012 - the government has "paused the ongoing franchise programme" pending reviews arising from the West Coast Main Line franchise procurement. Statement by the Secretary of State for Transport

Friday 24 August 2012 - the DfT extended its consultation on the combined Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise until "up to 1700 on Friday 14 September 2012" (consultation now closed). [The DfT's consultation on the Intercity East Coast franchise closed on Tuesday 18 September 2012].

Friday 3 August 2012 - We sent FLUA's response to the DfT's consultations on the combined Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise and on the Intercity East Coast franchise to the Combined Franchise Replacement Sponsor and to the ICEC Franchise Consultation Manager at the DfT. Members were able to make their own comments directly to the DfT whilst its consultations were still open (now closed).

Wednesday 25 July 2012 - Intercity Express Programme contract includes option for 125 mph trains - "East Coast London - Cambridge - Kings Lynn." See DfT IEP announcement

Monday 16 July 2012 - Paragraph 45, Railways Act 2005 Statement "The Secretary of State wishes to see sufficient capacity north of Ely station both to provide for forecast freight flows across East Anglia and to provide the potential to enhance passenger services between Cambridge and each of Kings Lynn and Norwich." [A half-hourly fast service already operates between Kings Cross and Cambridge with about two-thirds of these running north of Cambridge, mainly to Kings Lynn, but some as far as Ely only. Additionally, the Cambridge to Norwich service calls at Ely]. The Department for Transport has also today published a complementary document Illustrative Option schemes in CP5 HLOS. The first page of this states "[the HLOS] describes strategic outcomes without referring to specific schemes but a specific scheme has been assumed for cost purposes. For example, sufficient capacity is sought at Ely to provide for forecast freight flows across East Anglia and to enhance passenger services to Kings Lynn. The industry could resolve this in a number of ways but the Department has assumed the most efficient solution is the reconstruction and expansion of Ely North Junction. If another better way of providing the capacity is identified the industry should put this forward as a solution."

Saturday 7 July 2012 - Members who would like a copy of our draft responses to the DfT's consultations on the 'combined Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern' and the 'InterCity East Coast' franchises are asked to email or write to Andy Tyler. If you subsequently have comments to make on the draft responses, please ensure that we have your comments in writing (email or letter) by Tuesday 31 July 2012, so that we can take account of them before sending our definitive responses to the DfT.

Monday 2 June 2012 - Once in a generation - A Rail Prospectus for East Anglia published.

Tuesday 26 June 2012 - FLUA members' views on the Intercity East Coast franchise consultation document issued today by the Department for Transport, are invited (please email or write to Andy Tyler by 31 July 2012).

Thursday 31 May 2012 - FLUA members' views on the combined Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern franchise consultation document, issued today by the Department for Transport, are invited (please email or write to Andy Tyler by 31 July 2012).

Monday 30 April 2012 - Consultants Capita Symonds and Clewlow Consulting, acting on behalf of Royal London Waterbeach Estates (promoters of new town "Denny St Francis" adjacent to Waterbeach) respond to Network Rail's Route Utilisation Strategy consultation on Alternative Solutions for tram trains. Their response contains a discussion on the potential introduction of new stations at Chesterton [Cambridge Science Park station] and Denny St Francis, and replacing the existing Waterbeach station.

Thursday 19 April 2012 - King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross Growth formula Houses, Jobs, Fen Line

Thursday 29 March 2012 - Abellio, First, Govia, MTR, and Stagecoach shortlisted Thameslink bidders
Department for Transport announcement

Thursday 22 March 2012 - "Waterbeach population could rocket to be twice that of Ely" reveals the Eastern Daily Press today. The paper continues: "The population of Waterbeach could expand seven-fold to around 38,000 people with a new station, guided bus link and six schools built to accommodate a population twice the size of Ely. ... developer RLW Estates ... has registered the site with the council as being suitable for 12,750 homes. To support the housing Chelmsford-based RLW Estates says the already busy Waterbeach Station would need to be relocated to the north of the village..."

Thursday 23 February 2012 - In a House of Commons Question, Elizabeth Truss, MP for South West Norfolk, asks the Minister of State for Transport, Theresa Villiers, "In order to upgrade the service to half-hourly on the Fen line and the Norwich-Cambridge line, there needs to be an upgrade at Ely North junction. Network Rail has conducted an economic study that suggests that this will have a positive benefit.... May I ask what progress has been made to move forward on this investment?" The Minister replies "We have asked Network Rail to do important work on deciding how we might improve the frequency of services in the way she wishes to see, and whether the infrastructure needed to deliver this is within the budgets ... We will also look to do what we might be able to do in the next control period [CP5] as part of our high-level output specification - HLOS - statement, which we will publish in the summer."[Column 1012].

Tuesday 21 February 2012 - New station on the Fen Line at Cambridge Science Park set to go ahead

Thursday 16 February 2012 - Corrected and updated: King's Lynn-Cambridge-King's Cross
Issues and opportunities - sketch outline

Thursday 5 January 2012 - Department for Transport issues franchise clarifications
Clarifications - new Thameslink Franchise 2013

Friday 19 December 2011 - King's Lynn-King's Cross services to be part of a new Thameslink Franchise from September 2013.
Notes on the new Thameslink Franchise 2013

Thursday 23 June 2011 - Elizabeth Truss MP asks the Secretary of State for Transport Philip Hammond "what assessment his Department has made of the potential benefit to the economy of upgrading the railway line between Cambridge and King's Lynn." Theresa Villiers, Minister of State for Transport, replying, says: "Our current plans envisage that passengers on the Fen Line could benefit from new Intercity Express Trains from 2018. That would offer improved passenger accommodation and a shorter journey time to London ..." Ms Truss asks "passenger numbers between Downham Market and Cambridge have increased by 150% in the past 10 years", does the Minister agree that expanding the Fen Line northwards should be a key consideration in Network Rail's next phased upgrade?" The Minister replies: "She is absolutely right that passenger numbers have been increasing. This has been a real success story." [Column 462].

Thursday 3 March 2011 - Minister of State for Transport Theresa Villiers met a delegation consisting of Steve Barclay MP, Elizabeth Truss MP, and FLUA officers Colin Sampson, Robert Stripe, and Andy Tyler; there were "encouraging signs" that all Kings Cross-Cambridge-Kings Lynn services would be operated by Intercity Express trains as from 2018. Lynn News Chief Reporter Allister Webb writes in the newspaper on Tuesday 8 March 2011: "Mrs Villiers said: the meeting had been 'extremely helpful' and showed how the Lynn area would benefit from the new trains."

Tuesday 6 July 2010 - Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Transport, announces, in a written statement to Parliament, that decisions on the Intercity Express Programme were to be made in October. Mr Hammond publishes the Foster Report "A Review of the Intercity Express Programme" and its Annex today. Page 21 of the Annex shows a possible 'pick and mix' solution that emerged during the review - "it is by no means the definitive solution and a detailed assessment of the available options must be carried out." For "KX-Cambridge/KL" [Kings Cross-Cambridge-Kings Lynn] the table on page 21 shows the following: "Service type - Commuter; Rolling stock 2011 - Class 365; Proposed IEP - 5 vehicle electric; Rolling stock 2016 - 377 or Re-engineered 365; Rolling stock 2021 - 377 or Re-engineered 365; Rolling stock 2026 - 377 or new commuter EMU."

Tuesday 29 September 2009 - As part of its Transport and Works Act Order application, Network Rail publishes a statement of public consultation undertaken. This states: "Detailed planning of the works for submission of a Transport and Works Act Order began in January 2007 ... Development of the Hitchin Cambridge Junction improvements resumed in 2006 building on the results of the work that had been carried out prior to 2007 [earlier concept work, dating from the 1990s]." Kings Lynn-Kings Cross trains join the East Coast Main Line at Hitchin, which, as a flat junction, is recognised as a known capacity restraint.

Kings Cross-Kings Lynn 100 miles of route, 20 years of planning


The Fen Line - Aspirations, Timetable Metrics August 1992 to December 2010, and Peak Service December 2010

PDF The Fenman 2017, Issue 1, 2

PDF The Fenman 2016, Issue 1, 2, 3

PDF The Fenman 2015, Issue 1, 2, 3

FLUA works to develop services on the King's Lynn to Cambridge and London line.

We seek the best for users from the fast-changing railway scene by working with all parties in the rail industry and with other relevant bodies in the development of the Thameslink Southern and Great Northern (TSGN) franchise on the Fen Line.

Some of our history

Electric trains from King's Lynn, Watlington, Downham Market, Littleport, Ely, and Waterbeach to Cambridge and London King's Cross are run by
Great Northern for commuters, business and leisure users.

Greater Anglia operates electric trains from King's Lynn, Watlington, Downham Market, Littleport, Ely, and Waterbeach to Cambridge and London Liverpool Street. These peak hour extras run Mondays-Fridays only.

King's Lynn to London timetables can be found in timetable A7 to be found here.

There are six Fen Line stations: King's Lynn, Watlington, Downham Market, Littleport, Ely, and Waterbeach.