Opening a heritage centre at the former Waldersea sidings on the Wisbech to March rail line could be the first step towards getting a train link between the towns.
That’s the hope of County Councillor Simon King, who believes having such a scheme could provide the impetus needed to get funding, which will hopefully lead to the reopening of the Wisbech to March rail link.
Network Rail has just reissued a licence for the Bramley Line to occupy land from the Whitemoor Junction in March through to Wisbech just over the Weasenham Lane crossing.
And this includes permission to develop the Waldersea sidings depot as a heritage site allowing rolling stock, office and picnic area.
Mr King is also delighted Cambridgeshire County Council has commissioned a survey by Atkins into the viability of bringing the line back into use, thanks to the current Wisbech 2020 Vision.
“Getting the county council involved is a major step forward. Network Rail is a massive organisation and it usually likes to work with bigger organisations rather than small community groups.
“There is still funding out there and one of the things we have in our favour is this area is considered deprived and that ticks quite a few boxes when you are trying to attract funding,” said Mr King.
He added: “This is not going to happen overnight but I would hope that we will have some success within 10 years but it depends on funding. I think the foundation of most heritage railways has been the support from the local county council, that’s really important, so now they are taking an interest is a very positive step.”
The aim is open the Bramley Line as a hybrid line, so it will operate as a commuter service during the week and a heritage railway at weekends.
Mr King believes Fenland’s links with Rev W Awdry author of the Thomas the Tank Engine books will help boost the heritage line.
In the meantime it is hoped work will begin to create the heritage centre at Waldersea, which will provide something tangible to help garner more public support and get some momentum for the long term aim.
Works also needs to be done on creating a proper business plan to work out cost in order to put in funding bids.