Network Rail begins noise testing as work gets under way on £20m Soham station to connect with Peterborough and Ipswich
PUBLISHED: 10:29 26 March 2019
Eight years after East Cambridgeshire District Council began preparatory work, Network Rail put flesh on the £20 million proposal to re-open Soham station with noise monitoring tests ahead of a planning application.
Closed in September 1965, a new station to serve passengers on the Peterborough to Ipswich line will re-open on the same site and the first passengers could be using it within two years.
Network Rail says to “minimise the complexity of the project” the station has been sited entirely within the boundary of Network Rail land.
“This constraint means that there is much less risk to deliver a new station as there are no requirements to purchase land from third parties,” said a Network Rail spokesman.
On Friday Mayor James Palmer, whose Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CAPCA) has provided the cash for Network Rail to deliver the station, donned his hard hat and high-vis jacket to see at first-hand the noise monitoring studies.
Further vibration and light monitoring studies will be needed to support the planning application.
The new station 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 future proofed against the potential for increased demanded for container traffic to and from the Port of Felixstowe.
The project has been allocated funding needed to bring it to completion. At present, £3.2 million has been allocated to the delivery of the current phase. An additional £20 million has been allocated in the CAPCA budget to deliver the station through to design, construction and final handover. As part of the overall sum requested, around £7 million will be used to ring fence monies to upgrade the station to include a second platform.
Later this year CAPCA is expected to approve the funding of the remaining phases of work, which includes construction and handover ready for use.
The seeds for the new station were sown more firmly when East Cambridgeshire District Council developed a Masterplan Vision for Soham.
Network Rail was commissioned to investigate the feasibility study that concluded it made economic sense and in 2016 the options for where the station would be built began to be considered.
CAPCA and Network Rail agreed that to deliver a second track and then delivering a two platform scheme as a stand-alone project could delay progress and so agreement was reached for a single platform station and footbridge ahead of any proposed scheme to lay a second track.
The station design includes a single platform to the east side of the railway track. The platform will be 102 metres long to accommodate four-car trains expected to call at the station.
The platform will include waiting shelters, lighting, information screens and a public-address system.
The entrance to the car park will be via the existing junction with Mere Side, opposite Station Road, ending in a turning circle and drop off point next to the station forecourt.
There will be a stepped footbridge for access across the railway and Network Rail hope to connect up to an existing public right of way via a diverted footpath.
The proposed station is close to a level crossing at Spencer Drove which provides access to a public right of way. Network Rail, for safety reasons, proposes to permanently close this level crossing and divert the public footpath to a new stepped footbridge across the railway.
Mayor Palmer said over 550 people had turned up to recent public exhibitions about the station.
He said he hoped “signs of progress” such as the noise tests “give people confidence that Soham station is now very much a reality and that it will be delivered.”
He added: “I know more than most that the campaign for this station in Soham has been a long and often frustrating one.
“Connecting Soham back into the national rail network will be a huge boost to the town, and help facilitate planned economic and housing growth.”
“What’s important now is that we continue the good work so far in getting to this stage, and ensure that the timetable of delivery by summer 2021 at the latest remains on course.”