Story by: ROB SETCHELL, Reporter
Thursday, February 21, 2013
SUPPORT has flooded in for a campaign to reconnect Wisbech to the rail network.
In less than a week, almost 300 people have signed an online petition demanding that Wisbech’s rail link is re-opened.
Railfuture, the national organisation behind the campaign, wants to see a direct train service from the Capital of the Fens to Cambridge - a journey which could take just 40 minutes.
Peter Wakefield, chairman of Railfuture’s East Anglia branch, said: “The recent Wisbech 2020 Vision document produced by councillors shows there is growing awareness of the benefits of the new rail route.
“I am calling on all residents to get behind the campaign to help make it happen.”
Campaigners want to see an hourly train service from Wisbech to Cambridge established, stopping at March, Manea, Ely, Waterbeach and Cambridge Science Park on the way.
A message on the campaign website - wisbechrail.org.uk - says that Wisbech is “relatively impoverished”.
It says: “Unemployment is high compared with the south of Cambridgeshire. Services such as health and education, have below average outcomes.
“The perception is that the town has visibly stagnated both socially and economically since the railway closed in 1968.
“The town and surrounding area have a population of around 31,000, one of the largest in the country without local access to a railway station.”
It adds: “Although using the old railway as a heritage route has been suggested, a proper railway as part of the national network will bring far wider benefits in terms of jobs and access to the region.”
Campaigners point to re-opened links in other parts of the country, such as Corby, which have been a “great success”.
Wisbech Town Council supports the re-opening project, while Cambridgeshire County Council is carrying out feasibility studies into the scheme.
The petition will be presented to the county council when it closes in a few weeks. To sign it, and for more information, visit wisbechrail.org.uk