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Cambridge and King’s Lynn Rail Line

Volume 530: debated on Thursday 23 June 2011

12. What assessment his Department has made of the potential benefit to the economy of upgrading the railway line between Cambridge and King’s Lynn. (61517)

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, subject to a satisfactory outcome to contractual negotiations with Agility Trains and timetabling arrangements that will be finalised with the future franchisee.

With the area’s economic growth and the fact that 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?

My hon. Friend has campaigned strongly to improve services on the fen line. I pay tribute to her and the other local MPs who take this seriously. She is absolutely right that passenger numbers have been increasing. This has been a real success story. I would certainly encourage her and her constituents to engage with Network Rail, as it looks to the next railway control period to see what infrastructure improvements might be deliverable within affordability constraints.