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Rail Infrastructure: East of England

Volume 742: debated on Thursday 14 December 2023

1. What steps he is taking to ensure that new rail infrastructure meets the needs of communities in the east of England. (900647)

Mr Speaker, may I start by thanking you very much for bringing us all together at the carol concert yesterday, as you always do? I trust that this next hour will also be in keeping with the season of good will.

We are delivering record rail investment in the east of England, including upgrading the midland main line, a new station at Cambridge South, improvements at Ely and Horley junctions to increase passenger and freight capacity, and a new railway connecting eastern towns and cities to Oxford, which will deliver transformational growth across the region.

Wixams new town in my constituency was built in the perfect location for rail connectivity, but over a decade after moving into their homes, residents are still waiting for a start date to be confirmed, let alone for a station to open. Will the Minister work with local stakeholders and Network Rail to get sign-off for that line and ensure that my residents can finally enjoy the rail connectivity that they were promised?

I am happy to give that commitment to work with the residents. Indeed, I recently spoke to the Mayor of Bedford on that exact point. We are working at pace to get the station delivered. There are also funding requirements that involve the local region, which have been agreed to previously, and we are keen to make progress.

My hon. Friend has referred to the Horley junction and Ely junction developments, which came as very welcome news in October. The Horley junction development, in particular, is a very small project. It would be excellent to get a starting date agreed for next year, with the business case sorted out, recognising how that could improve resilience not only for passengers, but for freight and the port of Felixstowe.

My right hon. Friend has been an absolute champion for that project, as have other hon. Friends present. We are keen to make progress. The Secretary of State and I were very keen to see the project brought in, which was possible only because of the Prime Minister’s decisions on Network North in October. We are looking to make rapid progress on it, and I have heard my right hon. Friend’s call and will work to that speed.