The Cambridge to King's Lynn Line
30 Years of Electrification
- Mike Beckett
15th August 2023
Winter 1984/5 – the future for the Cambridge–King’s Lynn ‘Fen Line’ looked bleak. British Rail had singled long track sections. There had been closure talk.
Yet, following a vigorous three year political and technical campaign, government approval for its electrification was granted in February 1989. Construction work was drawn out and suffered setbacks, so it wasn’t until August 1992 that electric trains finally started operating on the 41-mile-long line. At first passengers were fairly thin on the ground, but as the years progressed growth (fuelled by commuting into Cambridge and, to a lesser extent, London) meant trains gradually became very overcrowded. Extensive works to upgrade the line to take longer trains have now come on stream. As well as a new Cambridge North, there are well-developed plans for other new stations.
Concentrating mainly north of Cambridge, this book illustrates the trains that run from Kings Cross and Liverpool Street to Ely and King’s Lynn via Cambridge, many of the types and liveries seen, and the extensive infrastructure works that have taken place over the last thirty-or-so years.
Mike Beckett was a strategic planner at King’s Lynn & West Norfolk Borough Council at the time of the electrification campaign. With a personal as well as professional interest in transport, he maintains a photographic record of the line’s many changes and has drawn on his collection to produce this book.