MP Steve Barclay calls for action to speed up the reopening of Wisbech Rail and highlights what can be done to reduce costs of the scheme in four page letter to Secretary of State for Transport
- Credit: Archant
MP Steve Barclay is calling for action to speed up the re-opening of Wisbech rail link.
Posting on his online blog the North East Cambs MP hit out at both the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and Cambridgeshire County Council for their ‘little action’ in moving the scheme forward in the past year.
He said: “We have money ready to spend on the next phase of Wisbech Rail – with £10.5 million already allocated by Government for Wisbech transport improvements from which several million pounds can be used for the next phase of engineering studies.
“Yet for the last year there has been little action from the Local Enterprise Partnership and Cambridgeshire County Council. Network Rail’s high costs for the scheme have been left unchallenged other than by myself.”
Mr Barclay then posts a four page letter he has sent to Chris Grayling, the secretary of state for transport, outlining what he believes can be done to speed up the building of the much-anticipated Wisbech rail.
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In the letter he said the fact the secretary of state for communities and local government is coming to Wisbech on March 2 to sign the new devolution deal ‘further unlines the Goverment support for Wisbech Rail.”
Mr Barclay’s letter also explains how costs can be reduced and benefits enhanced, and how it will fit in with other rail schemes planned for the region.
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Mr Barclay said the benefits cost revenue (BCR) is currently being updated by the county council.
He said: “There are a number of opportunities to reduce costs and enhance benefits not included within the Network Rail assessment dated June 24 2016 which produced a weak BCR of 1.4 to 1.46. This contrasted with the earlier high level (GRIP 2) study by Mott McDonald which had a bCR of 2.3 to 3.”
The aim is to achieve a BCR of 1.5, the level set by Greg Clark, the former secretary of state for communities, to enable the scheme to progress.
One of the draw backs is the expected costs of reinstating level crossings along the line, many of which are used by farmers and ensuring safety.
But Mr Barclay said the Wisbech scheme could pilot a new type of crossing which uses the same technology as half-barriers but applied to a full barrier - which are safer - and with the time the barriers being down significantly reduced.
He also suggests Wisbech should be designated a community rail scheme which would further reduce costs as it would not have to be built to the high specifications needed for high speed services.
Mr Barclay envisages the first phase being a shuttle service operating into platform 3 at March as a ‘one train in steam’ solution which would reduce signalling costs as it would operate as a single train on a branch line.
Consequently there would be ‘minimal signalling alterations’ required. Mr Barclay believes costs could be further reduced by delivering Wisbech Rail in a phased approach so a shuttle service could open ahead of Ely Junction improvements.
This, he said, would then enable housing linked to this initial rail service unlocking earlier developer contributions towards the cost of the scheme.
Signalling costs would be delayed until a direct service was possible through an upgraded Ely Junction.
Mr Barclay also suggests rolling stock for Wisbech could be added to the Greater Anglia’s £1.5 billion 1,043 vehicle order to replace Abellio Greater Anglia’s entire fleet.
To read the letter in full visit: http://stevebarclay.net/want-to-know-how-wisbech-rail-finally-gets-built-my-letter-to-the-secretary-of-state-for-transport/