Summit aims to connect Wisbech Rail Line

Steve Barclay
Steve Barclay

A parliamentary summit will hopefully build on a series of meeting aimed at promoting the case for the long overdue reopening of Wisbech rail line.

MP Stephen Barclay has called the summit planned for Tuesday (March 11) in the House of Commons and is timed so that it can review the data from the phase 2 Atkins study assessing the capital costs and benefits of the rail line.

As well as the further research currently underway by the Cambridgeshire County Council on the wider economic benefits case, ahead of the Local Enterprise Partnership submitting their strategic economic plan to the government, which must be submitted by March 31 2014. Mr Barclay, writing in his online blog said: “Key to the regeneration of Wisbech is reconnecting the town to the rail network. This is also important to the county as a whole, not least as the economic growth in Cambridge risks being constrained by a shortage of housing, which Fenland can help address provided the transport infrastructure is put in place.

“As part of my campaign to secure a Wisbech line, I have arranged a rail summit in the House of Commons, which Transport Minister Stephen Hammond MP has kindly agreed to attend. I am delighted that all the key stakeholders will also take part. These include, along with the Minister, Network Rail, Atkins Rail Consultancy, Graham Nix Chief Executive of the Local Enterprise Partnership, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Martin Curtis, County Council transport official Graham Hughes, Leader of Fenland District Council Alan Melton, Jonathan Denby of train operator Greater Anglia, and other rail experts.”

Government funding for transport schemes like this goes through the Regional Growth Fund, which will be allocated to successful bids from the Local Enterprise Partnerships. The funding allocation will be determined by a committee chaired by Lord Heseltine and Cabinet Office Minister Greg Clark MP.

Mr Barclay has aranged a meeting with Greg Clark for April 8.

He added: “The intention of the summit is to ensure the different tiers of government locally together with rail industry experts responsible for our area, are working closely to submit the strongest possible business case for the new rail line.

“A number of things have changed recently which significantly strengthen the case for the Wisbech line. This includes the Cambridge Science Park station which will reduce journey times at the Cambridge end, the relocation of Astra Zeneca to the county bringing welcome high quality jobs, increased freight on the Felixstowe to Nuneaton line which can connect with hauliers based in the Fens, new housing planned in the district which can be linked to the station.