Decision details

Joint Response to Network Rail's Ely Area Capacity Enhancements 2 consultation

Decision Maker: Lead Cabinet member for Planning

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: No

Is subject to call in?: Yes



To agree the Council’s joint response with Cambridge City Council to Network Rail’s Ely Area Capacity Enhancements 2 consultation.



The Ely area capacity enhancement (EACE) programme proposes to upgrade the railway to allow more trains to run through Ely.


The railway through Ely is operating at full capacity. This means that Network Rail cannot increase the number of services through Ely because the existing layout of the tracks, junctions, signals and existing speed restrictions across key bridges in the Ely area acts as a bottleneck on the network.


The aim of the EACE programme is to improve connectivity for passengers by providing an uplift in services to key destinations. Demand for rail freight is also growing and increasing capacity through Ely will support a shift from road to rail thereby providing a faster, greener, safer and more efficient way of transporting goods across the country; helping to remove lorries from roads and reduce congestion.


Earlier in 2021, Network Rail consulted on the options for upgrading the railway in the Ely South area, the results of which will be presented in 2022. This round of public consultation includes the options for remodelling the track at Ely North junction, Queen Adelaide level crossings options; and options for upgrading or closing other level crossings across the wider Ely area.


Details of the consultation are available at Network Rail’s Ely Area Consultation webpage:



Features of the consultation relevant to Greater Cambridge

Features of the consultation relevant to Greater Cambridge comprise:

  • Overall approach – enhancements at Ely North junction supporting growth in wider area
  • No proposed interventions at Chesterton Level Crossing (Fen Road)
  • Changes proposed to two level crossings in Waterbeach including Bottisham Road/Bannold Road but more materially Burgess Drove, where there are two options consulted on: 1 – Remove vehicle crossing rights but retain access for pedestrians and cyclists; 2 - Close Burgess Drove Level crossing


Proposed response points

The proposed key response points and reasons supporting these are as follows. The proposed full response is provided at Appendix A.

·         The need for capacity enhancements at Ely North junction to be sufficient to cater for all planned growth, noting national and local priorities to support more sustainable travel

·         Request to reconsider the consultation’s proposal not to make any further intervention planned at Chesterton Level Crossing, given the significant current impact of downtime there and potential for further downtime with the additional planned growth in services.

·         Burgess Drove Level Crossing: Of the two options proposed, support option 1 - Remove vehicle crossing rights but retain access for pedestrians and cyclists, to support the Councils’ access to food growing and access to nature priorities, noting that the level crossing provides access for village residents to allotments and the River Cam. In addition, note Burgess Drove residents’ views that upgrading the crossing would be preferable and likely less costly than upgrading and maintaining Burgess Drove surface (the proposed mitigation for closing the crossing to vehicles).


For the Joint Director for Planning and Economic Development and Lead Cabinet member for Planning Policy and Delivery agree the response to Network Rail’sEly Area Capacity Enhancements 2 consultation as set out in Appendix A.


A parallel decision is being considered by Cambridge City Council to be agreed, and delegated authority is given to the Joint Director for Planning and Economic Development to agree any minor amendments to the response agreed by the City Council that are consistent with the response at Appendix A.

Reasons for the decision:

To provide the Councils’ comments to this consultation in recognition of the opportunities it provides to influence Network Rail’sEly Area capacity enhancements.

Alternative options considered:

The council has the option of not responding to the consultation.

Publication date: 26/11/2021

Date of decision: 26/11/2021

Effective from: 04/12/2021

Accompanying Documents: