Wisbech rail line could cost £200.4m to build says new report
Building the Wisbech rail line is likely to cost around £200.4m according to new figures released today (Tuesday).
The cost of opening the line which would connect Wisbech via March to Peterborough and Cambridge has been revealed ahead of a meeting on Friday where an outline for the next steps for the project will be announced.
A report to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority Transport Committee will outline the next steps for transforming the Wisbech Rail which would see the re opening of the line for the first time since the service was axed under the Beeching railway closures of 1968.
The report explains the preferred Wisbech Station location has been identified close to the town centre but is subject to further assessment, design and consultation and points out the estimated construction cost is £200.4m, however the full business case is anticipated to be completed by the beginning of June 2020.
The report explains the estimated cost is based on today's prices and does not include land acquisition expenses.
It also says: "The preferred Wisbech Station location should be as close to the town centre as possible and land south of the Purina site has been identified but is subject to further assessment, design and consultation.
The key aims for the project are to improve access to employment and education for local residents, as well as improving the connectivity to major centres such as Cambridge, Peterborough, London, and Stansted Airport. Cambridge is one of the fastest growing and most highly skilled economies in the UK whilst Wisbech and the wider north Cambridgeshire area experiences high levels of socio-economic deprivation.
The project also has important implications for the environment and hitting net carbon zero targets by 2050 by providing an alternative mode of transport to car travel.
Cambridgeshire mayor James Palmer, said: “The re-opening of the March to Wisbech Transport Corridor is critical for supporting future growth in Wisbech. We want to transform Wisbech as a place for great rail connectivity, affordable housing and good employment and education. I am committed to re - opening direct services for Wisbech to Cambridge so we can attract investment and better job opportunities for Wisbech residents. Fenland communities have been cut off for too long. Wisbech remains one of the largest towns in the UK without a rail connection and I am determined to put that right. These proposals show how Wisbech can have the railway they have long campaigned for.”
The Wisbech Rail project is a prime candidate for accelerating existing proposals with funding from the Restoring Railways Fund. The Combined Authority’s application is sponsored by local MP Steve Barclay.
The North East Cambridgeshire MP said: “I’ve been campaigning to re-open Wisbech Rail for a number of years. Having good transport links is key to improving infrastructure in our area and the re-opening of Wisbech Rail would be a game changer for constituents living in the town and throughout Fenland and East Cambridgeshire.
“The re-opening of the Wisbech Rail line will help boost connectivity in our area and provides a more environmentally-friendly option compared to car travel.
“These proposals are a positive step forward and I will continue to work alongside colleagues in government to ensure we get this scheme back up and running."
The Combined Authority is continuing to invest in the local rail network with plans for new stations at Soham and Cambridge South. It is also delivering a series of improvements to upgrade facilities at Fenland stations and has just announced the first public consultations for the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro (CAM) a modern metro service connecting residents across Cambridgeshire.
More by this authorSarah Cliss