Yes, rail line will benefit us all

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IN his letter (Citizen (October 26) Cllr Robert McLaren asks a number of questions regarding the Bramley Line. Having researched this subject quite extensively I can provide some answers.

He asks if the railway will be a benefit to all of us. Simple answer is yes.

This has been confirmed by a detailed study into the Wensleydale Railway for North Yorkshire councils. This found that the railway generated £1.8m a year into the local economy, spent £0.6m on local goods and services and benefited 38 percent of local businesses.

Behind the headline figures it is how they came about that demonstrates there will be substantial benefits to this area, and Wisbech in particular, from re-opening the Bramley Line.

As well as the economic benefits there are many social benefits from a leisure attraction for visitors and locals. Through celebrating our links with the Rev Awdry we have the opportunity to bring Toby, Thomas and Co back to Wisbech.

As to work, the railway will create both voluntary and paid jobs as well as indirectly supporting jobs in local businesses. The Wensleydale study calculated that over 38 jobs were supported indirectly in the local businesses.

Additionally, as shown at Wensleydale, there is a magnificent opportunity for students at the local colleges to gain practical work experience in a range of occupations as well as formal qualifications and informal learning opportunities.

Heritage railways have been showing an increase in visitor numbers despite the recession so income is not an issue.

I cannot say what the pricing for the railway will be as there will be a range on offer, as found at other railways, but experience of other lines has shown there is something for all and value for money on a heritage railway day out.

In short it will benefit us all, whatever our age or background. Perhaps the main question councillor McLaren should have asked is not can we afford to fund the railway but can we afford not to?