Upgrading the Norwich-Cambridge Railway Line

Proper transport links are vital to our prosperity. In order to develop our local economy and promote local businesses and opportunities for the next generation, we need to be connected to the rest of the world.

While I helped secure the dualling of the A11 and North Tuddenham-Easton stretch of the A47 (with early works having now begun, and full works finally due to commence in the coming months – see more here), and continue to push for full A47 dualling and a number of other more local improvement works (see more here), I also believe upgraded rail links are a vital part of that better connection.

That’s why the improvement of our region’s rail has been one of my key missions since 2008 (when I first became a parliamentary candidate here in Mid Norfolk) – delivering tangible success.

I launched a campaign for ‘The Innovation Express’ between Norwich and Cambridge. Despite being only 50 miles apart, travelling between the two places is difficult and takes too long. By linking them better together with a half-hourly, much improved service with first class Wifi, we can unlock a world class “innovation corridor” linking Cambridge with Ely, Brandon, Thetford, Attleborough, Wymondham and Norwich, to the benefit of the local communities, local business and the regional economy.

This ‘Innovation Express’ has the potential to help drive growth and prosperity in our region for the next generation, playing a key role as Norfolk leads the Green Revolution that the UK must embrace if it is to become the ‘Science Superpower’ it can and should be. I was proud therefore to announce, during my time as Minister of State for the Future of Transport, that the East-West Rail project I had long lobbied for would eventually be extended beyond Cambridge – out east to Norwich and Ipswich.

Furthermore, as part of the efforts to create the ‘Innovation Express’, I successfully helped launch the East Anglian Rail Prospectus; successfully lobbied that responsibility for station upgrades and improvements should be moved to the train operating companies that actually use/have a direct interest in their prospering; secured a requirement for the new rail franchise to include a fleet of new, state of the art trains; and clinched the commitment of a new, East-West Rail station to the south of Cambridge – in order to bring about improved direct links from Norwich to Stansted Airport.

I also helped launch the campaign to secure improvements at Ely North Junction and Trowse Bridge, which are vital if we are to achieve an ‘Innovation Express’ with half-hourly services. Throughout my time as MP for Mid Norfolk, I have continued to push these projects, convening Secretaries of State and Ministers for meetings with our regions MPs and key stakeholders, as well as supporting parliamentary colleagues and the likes of the APPG for the East of England, Transport East and Eastern Powerhouse as they have also driven forward efforts to highlight the importance of unblocking the “bottleneck” at this key strategic rail.

I was therefore delighted when the Government announced it would be funding Ely North Junction improvements in October 2023. (See more)

Longer term, I want to see the railway become the central spoke of the A11 Tech Corridor initiative which aims to nurture companies, particularly those in science, research and technology, all along the route between Norwich and Cambridge – in turn creating thousands of new jobs for local people and spreading prosperity and cleaner, greener growth to our local communities. As part of that work, I am encouraging our local councils to turn their railway stations into 21st century community meeting places and business incubators with 5G and fast access to our region’s two main growth hubs.

It is therefore vital that EVERYONE can access our local stations – which is why I have been such a vocal advocate for improved access and why I have actively worked on the campaign for step-free access at Platform 2 of Wymondham Station. (Full details on that campaign can be found below – and on my dedicated campaign page here)

I also continue to lobby for an East Anglian Railway Development Corporation – one that can build the number and type of homes our region needs in a way that doesn’t destroy our rural way of life, while then channelling the funds raised back into improving the railway and reopening old Beeching lines. Ideally, an elected East Anglian Mayor would have responsibility for this corporation – working to ensure our region is “Levelled Up” and can unlock its maximum potential.

There remains much work to do, but please rest assured, I remain firmly committed to pursuing this in the months ahead with all of the passion and energy I have brought to it over the past 10-15 years.

To see more on my historic work, please do take a look at my page below.

Upgrading the Nor-Cam Railway Line - Latest News