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Concerns raised over Ely/Haughley rail improvements after Budget cuts

Suffolk Chamber of Commerce is writing to Government ministers, their shadow equivalents, local MPs and others raising concerns that significant cuts to transport budgets announced in yesterday’s Spring Budget will further delay much-needed work to improve the rail junctions at Haughley and Ely.

Although Chancellor Jeremy Hunt committed to a 1% rise in real terms for public spending for the next 12 months, official budget figures appear to show that the Department for Transport’s resource spending in 2024/25 will fall from £8.2bn this year to only £5.7bn.

Stephen Britt, chair of Suffolk Chamber’s Transport & Infrastructure Group, said: “In spite of an outline business case showing that for every £1 spent on upgrading the junctions there would be nearly £5 in economic and environmental benefits, the project has not been progressed by Government.

“This news of big departmental cuts further reduces the chances that the necessary work to significantly move the project forward will begin in the near future – if at all.”

The Ely Area Capacity Enhancement (EACE) programme and improvements to Haughley Junction is a scheme of national importance with support from sources as diverse as northern metro mayors and statutory transport bodies outside of the East.

In recent months, Suffolk Chamber has been lobbying the Treasury and shadow Treasury ministers, including Rachel Reeves, the shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, to commit to releasing funds to commence detailed onsite work under a Transport & Works Act order for EACE and to approve the c. £20m cost of the smaller, but important, element at Haughley Junction, not least as local councils have committed to making a contribution.

Paul Simon, Suffolk Chamber’s head of public affairs, added: “We need urgent clarification as to what this might mean for the Ely/Haughley schemes, as we are worried that these significant budget cuts might make it even less likely that much needed on-site work can commence.

“We are writing to our current MPs, Secretary of State Mark Harper, Rail Minister Huw Merriman and their respective shadow ministers seeking answers and reassurance. We will also be engaging with other influential individuals and groups in Suffolk and beyond to further press the case for funding to be confirmed to these locally, regionally and nationally vital schemes.”

Your Suffolk Chamber has been lobbying and campaigning for upgrades to Ely/Haughley junctions through its member-led Transport & Infrastructure Group. Find out more about the Chamber's Transport & Infrastructure Group here

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