Investigation of eastern section of East West rail will also be undertaken
The Prime Minister has announced the government’s long term economic plan for the East Anglia region, which includes a study into electrification of the route from Felixstowe to Birmingham.
David Cameron visited Felixstowe Port, where the announcement was one of a number of rail enhancements promised.
Network Rail is to conduct a study into the possibility of wiring the busy cross-country freight route from the port to Birmingham, with the results feeding into its Initial Industry Plan for Control Period 6 (2019 to 2024), due to be announced in September 2016.
Mr Cameron also announced that the government is extending the study of East West rail currently underway for the central section from Bedford to Cambridge. This would explore options for the eastern section of the route and consider how it could reach Ipswich and Norwich. It is also to investigate the possibility of a new station south of Cambridge at the new Addenbrookes campus. A report is expected in 2016.
Revival of the branch to Wisbech was also considered for investigation. Trackwork on the branch is still in place although would require upgrading; passenger services ceased in 1968 and freight in 2000. The line joins the Peterborough to Ely route at March. The reopening has been the subject of a local campaign, led by RailFuture, which would like to see an hourly service from the town to Cambridge.
The competition for the new East Anglia rail franchise has also been launched, following the issuing of an OJEU notice. The government says bidders will be ‘incentivised’ to submit plans for reducing journey times between Norwich and London to 90 minutes, as recommended by the Great Eastern main line task force. A shortlist of bidders is expected to be announced in June, with an Invitation to Tender issued in August and the winning bidder announced the following June, ahead of the start of the new franchise in October 2016.