Minister responds to letter calling for urgency on Ely

January 9th 2024

The Minister of State for Rail has responded to a joint letter from across the private and public sectors which welcomes government's commitment to upgrading Ely and urges funding to be released as soon as possible so that its benefits can be realised for the country.

The letter, co-ordinated by EEH and signed by many of the contributors to our Keeping Trade on Track brochure with Transport East, lists six core reasons why prioritising Ely's delivery would benefit the UK:

• Ely is a ‘quick win’ with planning at an advanced stage and its benefits could start to be delivered within the next six years – including allowing 2,900 extra freight services per year, removing 100,000 lorries from our roads per year, and reducing congestion by 5.6 million hours per year.

• In doing so, Ely will make a significant contribution to the government’s rail freight growth target and net zero, and enable logistics companies to embed new distribution models which utilise rail freight for longer distance journeys to the depot and batterypowered vehicles for shorter distance onward journeys.

• Delivery of Ely by the early 2030s would support construction of the Sizewell C power station in Suffolk by providing greater capacity for delivery of materials via rail.

• It will enable Freeport East to support the new trade deals being struck with overseas countries and help drive innovation.

• Ely will enable improved frequencies of passenger services between economic hubs in the East of England, while unlocking the potential for passenger service integration when East West Rail connects to Cambridge in the early 2030s.

• The scheme at Ely should be a catalyst to plan for further complementary measures on the Felixstowe to Midlands and North corridor, recognising its key role in moving the country’s freight.

In response, minister Huw Merriman MP, said DfT is currently engaging with the Treasury to understand when funding will be made available for progressing the Ely Area Capacity Enhancements and Haughley Junction schemes.