Wisbech to March railway line must stay on track says MP Steve Barclay

NE Cambs MP Steve Barclay

NE Cambs MP Steve Barclay - Credit: Archant

Confidence is growing in plans to re open the March to Wisbech rail line with the news that the Department of Transport is challenging excessive costs to get the work under way, according to NE Cambs MP Steve Barclay.

He said: “The sticking point, holding the project back, has been a combination of inflated costs from Network Rail and a risk adverse Local Enterprise Partnership which have been unwilling to fund the next phase of engineering studies due to the high costs specified by Network Rail.

“I am confident the Department for Transport is now challenging those excessive costs and pro-actively looking at how we deliver this scheme without what has become, in essence, a Network Rail veto.

“Network Rail inefficiency on other schemes in the country should not result in the Wisbech Rail scheme unnecessarily being delayed and I am particularly interested on how we can build the rail line using other engineering contractors outside the scope of Network Rail.

“The sticking point is that Network Rail could refuse to accept the completed scheme into the wider rail network, I will continue to discuss how we avoid this with ministers so we can build this railway as soon as possible at the best value for money.”

Mr Barclay said he will continue to press for the rail link and said that amongst the many millions of pounds forecast for this scheme: “We must not lose sight that this is technology that has been in place since 1849, a flat landscape rather than digging tunnels through the Pennines, a track that is already in place and therefore land does not need to be purchased, from a line which is moth balled.

“It should not be beyond the ability of our country, to reopen railways at a cost of £12.5 million a mile.”

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Mr Barclay met with the Rail Minister, Paul Maynard who described Wisbech Rail as “a critical project” which he strongly supports.

He has also held a number of meetings with other rail experts and train operating companiesas well as the Campaign for Better Transport and rail experts like Richard Haste who advised the Wisbech 2020 group.

“Alongside the Rail Minister’s clear support for the project, the interim combined authority (devolution) has provisionally earmarked £120 million of infrastructure investment in Wisbech Rail and Garden Town,” Mr Barclay said.

“This figure will be the provisional budget for the new devolved mayor.

“I hope residents in Fenland will ensure any candidate seeking their vote in the devolved mayor election next year makes a clear commitment to honour that £120 million of funding.”

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