Restoring rail link between Wisbech and Cambridge will create hundreds of jobs and slash commuting times, report claims


- Credit: Archant

Restoring a rail link between Wisbech and Cambridge will halve commuting times and create at least 230 jobs in the town, a report claims.

The Infrastructure for Growth document, which highlights the benefits improved traffic infrastructure can bring to Wisbech and the rest of Fenland, is being shared with senior ministers.

In addition, reopening the rail link, at a estimated cost of between £50-70million, will boost local incomes by £13million annually and lead to the building of more than 500 homes.

Raised incomes will come about through a combination of a number of factors, most significantly jobs, higher wages, more homes and higher house prices.

Re-connecting March and Wisbech forms a key part of the Wisbech 20/20 Vision, a joint Fenland District Council and Cambridgeshire County Council project to boost the town’s economy.

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Restoring the rail link and improving the A47, another priority of the Wisbech 20/20 Vision, are seen as essential to the success of the Wisbech Enterprise Park, which is at the centre of the vision.

Traffic congestion and parking charges of up to £30 a day make commuting the 30 miles by car or bus to Cambridge “impractical”, the report says.

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At peak times, it takes up to four hours at a cost of £56 to commute daily by car, or more than four hours at a cost of £30 to get a bus to Peterborough then a train to Cambridge.

But a rail link from Wisbech to March, with a through service to Cambridge, will see commuting times cut to less than an hour each way and cost commuters £18.

The document says: “Travelling time of under one hour would support employment within Wisbech through increased accessibility, whilst offering a more affordable choice of housing for everyone.

“The wider county jobs market will become available to Wisbech residents, helping to raise local aspirations and improve skills.”

Improved infrastructure in Wisbech will encourage people to move to the town, taking the “heat” out of the Cambridge property market, the report claims.

The average price of a semi-detached home in Wisbech is £134,466, compared to £334,447 in Cambridge. Average rent for a three bedroom house in Wisbech is £644 per month, compared to £1,300 per month in Cambridge.

Businesses will also be drawn to the town because of its competitive business rates - office rents are £92 per square metre in Wisbech, compared to £366 in Cambridge.

Industrial land in Wisbech is £245,000 per hectare, compared to £1,300,000 in Cambridge.

The document says: “Our priority is to deliver an economic game-changer for North Cambridgeshire through an integrated strategy for rail, road and growth infrastructure. This programme will be an enabler for a sustainable transformation.

“The cost of the rail reopening is estimated at between £50 and £70million (depending on the option) with preliminary estimates of benefits being two to three times greater than that of the standard Department of Transport calculations.

“The economic case for reopening the line is compelling.”

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