This important project includes upgrading Ely North Junction to allow the 11 train paths per hour that are needed now to support the all-day half-hourly service to King's Lynn, and to move more of the freight from Felixstowe off the A14 and onto rail. It would also enable future projects to increase capacity further. Funding for the next stage of the design process was applied for in March 2022; once the design is done there needs to be a further application for funds for actual construction. More information on the project here.
The government has now announced (here) that some of the money previously earmarked for HS2 phase 2 will be allocated to it. That funding is not planned to be available until 2029 -- it covers the period 2029-2040. So there'll be a delay of 15 to 25 years compared to when the half-hourly service was originally promised. That's simply not good enough.
Among the recent announcements of plans for the railways (see above) there was a conspicuous lack of mention of any progress towards implementation of the recommendations in the Williams report. However, we have now been told that "the pace of work to deliver GBR will be expedited" and to expect a long-term strategy developed by GBR-TT to be published by the end of 2023.
This new station will give travellers from Fen Line stations direct access to Addenbrooke's and Papworth hospitals and to employment on the Biomedical Campus. Preparatory work has begun and funding for the main part of the project applied for, but the station is not expected to open until the end of 2025. There is more detail on the project here and pictures of work at the site here and here.
There are two parts to this project (detail here). Mainly it is concerned with replacing life-expired signalling equipment, which we support in the hope that it will reduce the number of signalling failures.
However, it also includes work on a number of level crossings; there are six that are proposed to be converted from half barriers to full barriers, to improve safety although level crossing fatalities in Britain are only one seventeenth of the European average. This will result in them being closed to road traffic for much longer than at present, which could be a particular problem at Waterbeach station, preventing passengers crossing the line to catch their trains, as already happens at Downham Market and Shepreth. We raised our objection at the public inquiry (documents here) and await the outcome.
The consultation attracted three quarters of a million replies, and the proposals have now been withdrawn.
Our view at the time was that the proposals are a distraction from the reorganisation that the railway needs, like replacing the fridge when really you need a new kitchen. The urgent requirement is to implement the recommendations of the Williams report, which will bring far more efficiency savings and allow the railway to be responsive to passengers' needs without requiring cumbersome formal consultation processes.
One of the Williams recommendations was simplification of the fare structure, and that, at least, needs to be implemented before changing the way tickets are sold. Otherwise, a lot of money will be spent on training gateline staff for a system that is then replaced.
However, if ticket office closure is to go ahead under the current regime, we consider the following to be requirements:
There are some positive aspects to the change:
We represent the interests of users of the Fen Line to the rail industry management.
We monitor to ensure that services offered are maintained and improved.
We inform our members of the latest developments.
The AGM takes place each November. Representatives of the rail industry attend to give members the opportunity to raise issues with key staff from across the network.
The draft minutes of the 2022 AGM are in the members' section. The 2023 AGM will be on Saturday 4th November at 2pm at the Signal Box Centre, The Emerald, 82 Glenalmond Ave, Cambridge. CB2 8DB. This is a 10 min walk from Cambridge station. We plan to offer a Zoom option for those who wish to attend online.
Become a member and get access to the members' section.
FLUA works to develop services between the Fen Line stations (King's Lynn, Watlington, Downham Market, Littleport, Ely, Waterbeach, and Cambridge North) and onwards to Cambridge and London.
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 Fen Line stations to Cambridge and London King's Cross are run by Great Northern for commuters, business and leisure users.
Greater Anglia operates electric trains from Fen Line stations to Cambridge and London Liverpool Street. These peak time extras run Mondays-Fridays only.