Open up train track from King’s Lynn to Peterborough, urges MP

Peter Risebrow with MP Steve Barclay

Peter Risebrow with MP Steve Barclay - Credit: Archant

Ambitious plans for a King’s Lynn to Peterborough train link have been unveiled this week by MP Stephen Barclay who is confident the Fens can be opened up to the UK rail network using a new station at Wisbech.

Bramley Line between March and Coldham.

Bramley Line between March and Coldham. - Credit: Archant

Mr Barclay held “a very interesting meeting” with Peter Risebrow, a Eurostar project manager, on how to create a rail link between Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

The idea has been welcomed by the leader of Fenland District Council, John Clark, as a “fabulous” one that will reap “rich rewards for Wisbech”, but realistically “not likely to happen in my lifetime.”

There is currently a track from March to Wisbech which was last used for passenger trains in the Sixties and for freight trains until 2000.

For years, campaigners in the Bramley Line group have put on pressure for the line to be brought back into use and a feasibility study is currently underway into whether this is possible.

Mr Barclay said: “The Wisbech to March line could unlock wider benefits by enabling a direct route between King’s Lynn and Peterborough.

“Whilst some extra track will be needed, this would save an hour’s journey time between Kings Lynn and Birmingham.

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“It would also enable a King’s Lynn to London service to run every half hour throughout the day from 2017.”

He said the Bramley Line proposed new station at Wisbech would open up services across the region including to Ely which would help release pressure on the current bottleneck at the city station.

“It would immediately relieve Ely of four existing freight trains a day and given the increased freight planned, absorb even more freight capacity in the future,” he said and added the scheme had potential highways benefits.

“There would be scope to undertake dualling of the A47 between Walton and Wisbech, change the A1101 roundabout, and address the accident hotspot at Broad End roundabout junction alongside planning the track.”

Mr Barclay plans to discuss this proposal further with parliamentary colleagues, Liz Truss MP, Henry Bellingham MP and Stewart Jackson MP.

Ms Truss said: “This is an excellent proposal and would have real economic benefits for the area.

“The opening up of connections to Wisbech will certainly complement existing key infrastructure.”

Stewart Jackson, MP for Peterborough said: “Anything that improves the local transport infrastructure in North East Cambridgeshire is good for Peterborough and I look forward to working with my colleagues on this proposal.”

Mr Barclay has also been in discussions with Stephen Joseph OBE, Executive Director of Campaign for Better Transport who said: “It’s important to keep a focus on the reopening to Wisbech, and to make the wider economic case for that.

“It is too early to say whether the business case will justify extending the re-opening of the Wisbech line up to King’s Lynn and I would not want to do anything to delay that key priority. However, it is an interesting idea which warrants serious consideration.”

FDC leader John Clark said: “It is one of the most important things we can do for Wisbech to open it up to the rest of the network for its economy and for the people.

“I like to think it will happen one day.”

Chairman of the Bramley Line group Simon King said: “Transport is the key to an area’s prosperity - if you don’t start with ambition then you don’t get anywhere - none of this is going to happen overnight but without vision it doesn’t stand a chance.

“We see a phased process - march to Wisbech first then great if it can continue to King’s Lynn - we are grateful for Mr Barclay’s efforts.”

Mr Barclay said that following industry support, identified at the recent Wisbech 2020 summit, Anglian Water, Motts/Grontmij and Skanska will attend a technical workshop with Cambridgeshire County Council and Fenland District Council on October 15.

He hoped the county council would then confirm timescales for a high level engineering study - known as a Grip 2 study - which is the next step.

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