Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mayor James Palmer said two public information events on plans to build a rail station in Soham was another significant step forward for the scheme.
The Mayor, along with staff from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and Network Rail, took questions from members of the public at the busy event at the Ross Peers Sports Centre in the town on Tuesday (February 26).
There was a second event today (February 27) at the same venue, from 10am - 2pm. Around 550 members of the public were estimated to have attended over the two days.
The sessions also features information boards and pamphlets about the history of the former station, the background to the project, and progress so far. The public were also able to view illustrative designs and illustrative 3D imagery of what the new station is likely to look like.
The scheme will include a single platform, footbridge, car park, station forecourt, drop-off point and ticket machines. The proposed platform would be 102 metres long, and there would be associated waiting shelters, lighting, a public address system and information screens.
There will also be a built-in allowance for a future second platform in advance of any double tracking of the line between Ely and Soham. It is currently a single track. The station would also be futureproofed against the potential for increased demanded for container traffic to and from the Port of Felixstowe.
The station will be operated and managed by train operator Greater Anglia, and their current Ipswich to Peterborough service will service the station. It is currently two-hourly, but Greater Anglia is commented to upgrading the service to hourly, with potential for this to be introduces before Soham station is open.
Soham station is one of the Combined Authority'[s priority projects and it has been finding ways to accelerate its completion before March 2022, the timescale under a conventional approach to delivery. Time savings have been identified which means the station can be delivered by summer 2021, with additional time efficiencies meaning it could be finished by Spring 2021.
The project has been allocated funding needed to bring it to completion. At present, £3.2 millions has been allocated to the delivery of the current phase. An additional £20 million has been allocated in the Combined Authority budget to deliver the station through to detailed design, construction and final handover. As part of the overall sum requested, around £7 million will be used to ringfence monies to upgrade the station to include a second platform.
In Autumn 2019 a report is due to be put before the Combined Authority Board to approve the funding the remaining phases of work, which includes construction and handover ready for use.
The project will also support the delivery of 1,655 new homes in Soham by 2031 as well as supporting its economic growth and attracting further investment. It will better connect people to key employment areas including Ely, Bury St Edmunds and beyond. The station would also reduce pressure on the local road network, particularly the A142.
Mayor James Palmer said:
"There was a real buzz in the room at the information event when I attended on Tuesday and I think that is indicative of the fact that people are now drawing more confidence that this scheme is happening, it is a reality and it will be delivered.
"There were many useful and detailed questioned from members of the public and they have been taken on board.
"There has been a considerable amount of effort to get to this stage, including close working Network Rail, and this event represents another big step forward. Next month I will visit the site of the new station when Network Rail will be on site carrying out noise, vibration and light monitoring which will be needed ahead of the planning application being submitted.
"This project is one of the Combined Authority's 12 priority schemes. It is in our new Business Plan and funding is allocated. My job now is to ensure that the momentum continues and the ambitious timetable for this long-awaited and much needed rail station does not slip"