Ahead of the next week’s meeting of the Combined Authority’s Transport and Infrastructure Committee, Mayor James Palmer met the rail minister, Chris Heaton-Harris MP, to discuss the case for reconnecting Wisbech to the rail network.
“It was a very positive meeting. The Minister is fully cognisant of both the needs and opportunities of our rail projects in the north of the county, Wisbech and Ely North Junction. Our teams are continuing to work together to draw up plans, and both the Minister and the Mayor will continue to speak regularly to maintain pace on the project,” said a spokesman for the Mayor’s Office.
At next Wednesday’s meeting, the Transport & Infrastructure Committee will be asked to note the key conclusions of the Full Business Case – the FBC - that restoring a heavy rail link between Wisbech and Cambridge would be practicable and provide value for money - and agree the final version of the FBC.
The FBC concludes that the most commercially viable solution is a heavy rail service serving a station centrally located within Wisbech. It says this would be transformative for the economic potential of Wisbech and that a two trains per hour service between Wisbech and Cambridge would reach the highest benefit-cost ratio and could be implemented without waiting for Ely North Junction to be developed.
Restoring a rail link is deemed critical for supporting future growth in Wisbech, attracting investment to the town, linking affordable housing with good employment and education. Direct services between Wisbech and Cambridge will unlock better job opportunities for Wisbech residents and offer a greener alternative to commuting by car.
Wisbech remains one of the largest towns in the UK without a rail connection. Residents of the town have long campaigned for the restoration of their service, ended by the Beeching cuts in the 1960s.
The Wisbech Rail project is a candidate for accelerating existing proposals with potential funding from the Restoring Railways Fund. The Combined Authority's application for this funding is sponsored by the Member of Parliament for North East Cambridgeshire, the Rt Hon Steve Barclay MP.