Ely station is the subject of a £22million project to overhaul its services

Opened in 1845, Ely station is one of the oldest stations outside of London in the whole of the UK. Its location makes it a busy junction with trains serving destinations such as London, Cambridge, Birmingham, Nottingham, Sheffield, Manchester and Liverpool.

However, the railway is a notorious bottleneck, which has (somewhat) limited the potential growth opportunities for the station and Ely itself. The Combined Authority and Network Rail have considered further upgrades to the line: the EACE scheme, as it is known, is currently at an early design stage and has not yet secured consent or funding to provide at this stage of the process.

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station building is being renovated (April 21, 2022)” content=”https://i2-prod.cambridge-news.co.uk/incoming/article23747110.ece/ALTERNATES/s615b/2_JS264063229.jpg”/>
The station building is being renovated (April 21, 2022)

However, significant funding has already been secured for the project totaling £22.4m. Network Rail has received £13.1m from the Department for Transport and £9.3m in funding from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority. The funding will be used for the submission of a ‘business case’ for the EACE programme, which will need to be approved by the Ministry of Transport, which will then result in the submission of a ‘Transportation and Transport Act Ordinance’. the works”.

As stated on the project’s webpage: “Further design and development of the EACE programme, including future consultation events later in 2022, and clearance will be subject to future Department for Transport funding decisions at continuation of the Rail Network Improvements Pipeline (RNEP) process”.

The Ely Area Capacity Improvement (EACE) scheme plans to increase the number of trains passing through Ely.

A statement on the Network Rail website reveals that the overall aims of the project are: “To improve the connectivity and reliability of passenger services whilst meeting the demand for more rail freight between the Port of Felixstowe, the West Midlands and the North to support sustainable, long-term economic growth”.

What are the specific benefits of the new upgrade?

Network Rail said the ‘EACE scheme’ will increase current off-peak hours 6.5 trains per hour (tph) in each direction to 10tph off peak.

Below is a table filled with proposed improvements to specific services:

2019 off-peak services (per hour) Off-peak offered improvement of service via Ely
1 x London – King’s Lynn 2 x London – King’s Lynn
1x Norwich-Liverpool .1 x Norwich-Liverpool
1x Birmingham–Stansted 1x Birmingham–Stansted
0.5 x Ipswich–Peterborough 1x Ipswich–Peterborough
1 x Norwich–Stansted 1 x Norwich – Stansted (off-peak times only) or Cambridge (peak times only)

Note the doubling services from London to King’s Lynn, and the addition of a new service — included in the double asterisks in the table. Consultations on the project are now complete.

In 2021 Network Rail said: ‘The Ely North Junction Scheme was a proposal to improve the alignment of the track from the main rail junction to the north of Ely station, however, this work has been put on hold following of the Hendy Review in 2016.

“It gave us the opportunity to look at the wider capacity constraints around Ely which also need to be taken into account in order to meet aspirations to operate more rail services.”

CambridgeshireLive contacted the EACE program, but they were unable to provide a comment.

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James H. Wright