Serious talks pledge for Bramley Line

PUBLISHED: 16:01 03 August 2007 | UPDATED: 22:58 28 May 2010

The Bramley Line’s proposed route, indicating six rail stopping points and the role to be played by a shuttle bus service at both March and Wisbech

The Bramley Line's proposed route, indicating six rail stopping points and the role to be played by a shuttle bus service at both March and Wisbech

PLANS to re-open the rail link between Wisbech and March have received a major boost with the promise of help from Fenland District Council. That promise came from Councillor Alan Melton, the council s portfolio holder for open for business , who said th

Cllr Alan Melton

PLANS to re-open the rail link between Wisbech and March have received a major boost with the promise of help from Fenland District Council.

That promise came from Councillor Alan Melton, the council's portfolio holder for 'open for business', who said the council would link up with the Bramley Line committee, which is battling to restore the nine-mile stretch of track.

The line became a victim of the Beeching cuts when it was closed to passenger traffic in 1968, and the minimal freight service ceased in the 1990s.

The Bramley Line Committee was formed in 2003 with the aim of re-opening the passenger link, largely as a tourist attraction and using steam-hauled trains.

At last Thursday's full meeting of Fenland Council, Cllr Melton emphasised the importance of rail transport to the future Fenland's economic viability.

He was responding to a question from Councillor Roger Green who asked if there was a long-term strategy for the line and suggested the council should offer help, guidance and encouragement to those fighting to re-open it.

Cllr Melton said: "The line could become part of a sustainable transport strategy.

"Fenland's economy is due to grow, and we are looking to provide more commercial opportunities in the district, particularly in March and Wisbech.

"We can sustain that growth with greater use of the railway.

Therefore, it was important that the rail link between March and Wisbech is upgraded - not just as a tourist attraction but for commercial services too - and it was now time for Fenland Council to talk seriously with the Bramley Line committee with a view to re-opening the link between the towns.

He was quick to add that the council could not promise big grants, but it could help facilitate the re-opening process and put pressure on Network Rail.

There may be, however, some way that finance could be found, and he promised that a future policy development group would investigate ways of formulating the help the council could give to the Bramley Line.

And he concluded: "This council, from now, will take the proposition seriously, and we will promote it."

- Bramley Line chairman Brian Baylis is due to meet Cllr Melton on August 16 to discuss how to move the project forward.

"We hope it will help us get the finance we need to purchase the lease on the line so that we can go ahead and bring it back to life as it rightfully should be," he said.

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