Plans for the re-opening of the Wisbech rail line are ‘well advanced’ says transport minister

Local MP Steve Barclay with Patrick McLoughlin at a previous meeting to discuss the Wisbech rail pro

Local MP Steve Barclay with Patrick McLoughlin at a previous meeting to discuss the Wisbech rail project - Credit: Archant

Plans to re-open the Wisbech rail-line are ‘well-advanced’ according to Transport Minister Patrick McLoughlin

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin - Credit: Archant

Mr McLoughlin made the comment during a speech in London on Thursday when he was talking about the future of railways nationally as part of an annual lecture.

He spoke of the government’s commitment to the rail sector and the importance of ‘continually embracing technology’.

He said: “The railways are – by and large - growing. The passenger expects more. More services, more reliability, more choice. And that the government backs all this with a record investment programme. And will continue to back it.

“It is an absolute pleasure to be able to work with a confident, expanding rail industry and supply chain.

Something that would have been unimaginable to many of my predecessors. So there is a positive future for the railways.”

Mr McLoughlin said the railways, in particular, like to look back not forward and pointed to the name of the lecture - the George Bradshaw Address - which was named after a 19th century map maker who wrote a definitive guide to the nation’s railways.

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“Now we like to talk of Bradshaw’s time as the golden age of the railways,” said Mr McLoughlin.

“And it was an amazing time. Because as our railways grow, we’re not trying to restore them to a lost glory.

But build something even better, doing a very different job. The truth is that we have only begun to touch on the possibilities for growth in the railways.

“And I am delighted with the way franchising has improved since then. We have seen successful, creative bids for routes such as the East Coast and both franchises in the north.

“Finding ways to bring trains back to towns that should never have lost them and whose growth requires them.

“Like the Chase Line project did for Rugeley, Cannock and Hednesford. Or for places such as Tavistock and Wisbeach, which have well-advanced plans.”

Mr McLoughlin said areas like East Anglia can learn from the Northern and Transpennine franchises which have gained £1.2billion of private sector investment.

He said: “I want to see that not just in the north but the south west, East Anglia, the Midlands too. The network is a key public service. But to make the best of it we need to draw on wider sources of funding.”

Read the full lecture here: