More good news for re-opening of Wisbech rail line as business case is agreed
Hopes of re-opening the Wisbech to March rail line are gathering momentum with news this week the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority has agreed the business case for the project.
If all remains on track then trains could be running out of a newly built Wisbech station by 2028.
But there is still a long way to go before work on the reinstatement of the line can begin by 2024 and provide Wisbech with its much hoped for rail link.
Government backing for the scheme is crucial as Wednesday's meeting of the combined authority heard national funding is vital for its success.
A report to the meeting said: "The Financial Case concludes that, while there may be scope for financing some elements of the scheme locally and through the farebox, significant national grant funding will be required to enable the delivery of this project."
The meeting heard the most commercially viable solution is a heavy rail service, serving a single platform station centrally located in Wisbech. A site close to Nestle Purina is the preferred option at a cost of around £4.6m.
Initially there will be two trains an hour between Wisbech and Cambridge, to achieve the best value for money.
In order for the scheme to be built up to £8 million will need to be spent on land acquirement this includes 19 homes.
A further £8.1 million will be needed to provide a third platform at March station, where a new footbridge together with lifts will also be built.
Upgrade of the rail line is set to cost around £71.9 million while another £75.6 million will be needed for highway improvements. The business case recommends closing all 22 of the rail crossings along the length of the Wisbech to March track prompting the need for five highways diversion schemes and seven new bridges.
The report, which pointed out the Wisbech project is dependent on other schemes including the much campaigned for upgrade to the Ely North junction - which is also needed to enable improved services for the area.
It also said that Wisbech Rail is a candidate for potential funding from the Restoring Railways Fund (RFF) as it aligns with the fund's objectives which include accelerating existing proposals and proposals for new or restored stations. Opening the line, which is backed by MP Steve Barclay, also fits with the RFF's aims of helping deprived areas.