The MP for Wisbech has advised that the project to reopen the railway line between March and Wisbech is moving closer to fruition despite the high costs provided by Network Rail. The Department for Transport are challenging the costs to help support the project moving forward.
Discussions are being held to create Wisbech Development Corporation, which would support transport improvements including a new railway line.
The Department for Transport has listed a service between March and Wisbech as a specific project within its Invitation to Tender for the Anglia franchise.
The production of an outline business case (GRIP2) has allowed local stakeholders to unlock funding for further studies, which includes a detailed business case and option selection. The costs for reopening the line between March and Wisbech have been estimated between £70m and £111m. The strongest business case is for two trains per hour with a railway station in central Wisbech.
An exchange of letters has confirmed that the next step for delivering the railway line between March and Wisbech is secure. Eric Pickles (Local Government Minister) wrote to Greg Clark (Universities, Science and Cities) expressing support for the project. Greg Clark’s response confirmed that the money would be made available this year if the draft business case (GRIP 2) due in June confirms that the BCR is greater than 1.5. The local MP has advised that the BCR is expected to be between 1.9 and 3.7.
Momentum is beginning to build behind the restoration of the route to Wisbech. A new study has been decided, which will take the project to GRIP 3.
Cambridgeshire County Council have backed the restoration of the Wisbech line unanimously.
Only minimal track maintenance will be undertaken on the route between March and Wisbech by the Bramley Line Society as the future of it is decided. The group will focus on rolling stock restoration.
Local organisations and businesses are throwing their support behind a campaign to reopen the railway line serving Wisbech.
Steve Barclay MP has called for local Councils to use their reserves to accelerate the delivery of the GRIP 2 study for reopening the Wisbech Railway Line as part of a proposal to place the project in the running for a bid for funding from the European Structural and Investment Funds being allocated for 2014-20.
June 2014 marks five years since the publication of the Connecting Communities report into potential opportunities to expand the rail network. This blog will be publishing a set of posts during June to review the progress that has been made to date. This is the twelfth post in the “Five Years On” series.
This post reviews the progress of the Wisbech and Ivanhoe lines.
The March to Wisbech line was proposed with a potential Park and Ride where the route crosses the A47. ATOC expected a train service from Wisbech to Peterborough with reopening costing £12m and a BCR of 1.1.
There has been an ongoing project to reinstate the railway line as a heritage railway. It has established a base at Waldersea.
Cambridgeshire County Council launched a three stage feasibility study in 2012 and the first stage reported in 2013 advising that the route was feasible.
The route gained further financial support in July 2014 when it received LGF support to proceed with the next stage of the feasibility studies.
Leicester to Burton (Ivanhoe)
The Leicester to Burton line was proposed with stations at Kirby Muxloe, Bagworth, Coalville, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Moira and Gresley (for Swadlincote). The ATOC proposal was to upgrade the existing line to passenger standards with an additional passing loop. The expected costs were £49m with a BCR of 1.3.
Very little progress has been made with the project. The proposal was reviewed in 2008 with the report advising that the BCR value would be 0.4. Local MP’s wrote to Patrick McLoughlin in December 2013 to encourage the DfT to fund a feasibility study into restoring the route.
The wider benefits of reopening the Wisbech Line have been revealed in a report commissioned by Cambridgeshire County Council.
Cllr Gordon Gillick has stated that the cost of the Wisbech Line at £50 million is too much and that they money would be better invested in young people and the local road network.
Cllr Noel Kavanagh, deputy leader of the Labour group on Cambridgeshire County Council, has tabled a motion of support to next Tuesday’s full council for the Wisbech Railway line. It calls for the council to identify potential sources of funding to restore services at the earliest opportunity.
At a rail summit held in London, attendees were advised that reinstating the line and building a station in Wisbech could cost £52.6m, including a £15.6m bridge over the A47, while the bill for an out of town station south of the A47 would be £31m. The original estimate for the project was £12m. However, the costs are still being finalised as Atkins completes the report.
MP Stephen Barclay is to host a Parliamentary Summit on 11th March to promote the case for reopening the railway line serving Wisbech.