On Friday, James travelled on the first 8 carriage train from Lynn to Cambridge that will boost space and seats on trains from the start of the Winter timetable on Sunday (13 December).
This increased capacity was made possible by a £27 million investment by the Department for Transport and infrastructure work by Network Rail to extend platform lengths at Waterbeach and Littleport stations, as well as construct a new siding at King's Lynn.
Previously services for all stations to King's Lynn had only four carriages beyond Cambridge, and trains turning around at Ely had eight carriages but could not stop at Waterbeach. The hourly service at Waterbeach will now be half hourly.
Great Northern has revised its operational procedures and made carriages available to provide the longer trains. They’ll add over 2,000 extra seats to morning trains arriving in Cambridge. This will make it easier for passengers to socially distance and when passengers return post-pandemic, help passengers find a seat on busier services.
Right now, while social distancing remains in place, passenger numbers remain historically low. Providing more space on trains at this time will help passengers feel more confident about travelling on the network and maintain social distancing until passengers return in greater numbers.
James said: “It is great news that this important upgrade has been completed and the introduction of longer trains on this key route will boost capacity and make for a better experience for passengers. This multimillion-pound investment is part of the government’s plans to help boost economic growth in North West Norfolk and more widely. I congratulate Network Rail, Great Northern, and everyone involved in delivering this infrastructure project in challenging circumstances that will benefit so many people in King’s Lynn and along the Fen Line."=
James is also campaigning for further investment to increase the frequency of services. This will require significant improvements through the Ely Area Capacity Enhancements programme.
James met the Rail Minister to underline the strategic importance of these plans for West Norfolk and the wider region and in July the minister confirmed the £13 million funding to refine the options under consideration into a preferred option and produce an outline Business Case. Network Rail has been consulting on these proposals.