MP Steve Barclay pushing for government funding for Wisbech rail link study


Cambs Times 15th April 2014

A series of meetings have been held to discuss funding for a study into a train line between March and Wisbech.

MP Steve Barclay met with Cabinet Minister Greg Clark to discuss government funding for a study to see how Network Rail could deliver the project.

He also met with the special adviser to Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin to discuss funding options from the Department for Transport.

Mr Barclay said: “Mr Clark was supportive of the scheme and thought it was a very interesting and positive project”.

Wider economic benefits study shows strong case for Wisbech Rail reopening

March to Cambridge MapThe Wisbech Rail Reopening scheme has jumped another step towards certainty today, with the news that the  wider economic benefits study has calculated that there would be £3 of benefits for every £1 spent on the scheme giving huge additional strength for the case to reopen the line.

The local MP Steve Barclay describes the development here:

“There were many other potential benefits, which through excellent work by officials at Cambridgeshire County Council in Graham Hughes’s team, we have together been able to identify. On the back of this, County Council leader Martin Curtis commissioned a study on the wider economic benefits, which was carried out by Mott MacDonald.
As a consequence the BCR is now 3, which is higher even than that of HS2, which stands at 2.3. This means that every £1 spent is expected to return £3 in benefits, giving the reopening a strong value-for-money case. I would particularly like to pay tribute to Councillor Curtis for his vision in commissioning this game changing report.
The next step in building on this positive report is a meeting today with Cabinet Minister Greg Clark MP to discuss funding for the next, more detailed study to be carried out by Network Rail.
I see the joint report published today as a real game changer. For the first time in four decades we have an independent report which shows the wider economic benefits to Cambridgeshire from reopening the Wisbech line. We must ensure momentum is maintained, and move forward from this report with a detailed cost assessment by Network Rail to be done in July, and today’s report will help us to progress this.”

Steve Barclay’s video describing the progress is here:
“Game-changing Wisbech Rail Line Study published”

The news is reflected in the local press:
“A direct line would take 48 minutes between Wisbech and Cambridge for example compared to the one hour 10 minutes it takes at off peak times by road”
The line closed for passenger services in 1968 but continued to operate for freight until 2000.
Network Rail says a feasibility study, if agreed, cold begin in July and take six months to complete.
If funding becomes available work on restoring the line could begin as early as 2016/17.

Wisbech Rail Reopening Parliamentary Summit


The profile of the Wisbech Rail Reopening scheme has been raised to a national level by Steve Barclay hosting a summit in parliament with Transport Minister, Stephen Hammond and a host of political leaders and rail experts. The transport minister descibed the reopening as “a strategic priority”. This is another very significant step towards the reopening.

Here are a collection of reports and quotes about the summit.

Reopening the railway line to Wisbech is “a strategic priority”, the transport minister Stephen Hammond told a special rail summit held in Westminster.
BBC Look East reports

Martin Curtis Leader of Cambridgeshire County Council talking to Chris Mann on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire
Chris Mann: Why is this so important?
Martin Curtis: Well first of all we all know that we’ve got within the Cambridgeshire area, and if you include Peterborough with that, we’ve got two of the fastest growing cities in the country. And what we need to be doing now is finding a way of connecting up the rest of the County to see that they benefit from that, and in fact the wider economic area as well. So the Wisbech to March rail link, one of the things that it will do is as we have that growing Cambridge economy, it will pull Wisbech into the travel-to-work area for Cambridge. But also the reverse side is true as well. It will unlock the tourism potential of Wisbech as well. So that’s why it’s important.

Video: Progress on Wisbech line with Parliamentary Rail Summit
Yesterday marked an important step forward in the campaign to reconnect Wisbech to the rail network with a meeting in Parliament with Transport Minister, Stephen Hammond and a host of political leaders and rail experts.
The most positive aspect of the meeting was the clear indication from Mr Hammond that he ‘recognised reopening this line is considered a strategic priority.’ He made clear that transport schemes can be accelerated where there is strong political and business will to do so.
Mr Hammond also signalled that he particularly valued a bottom-up approach where local expertise informs rail priorities and that he was keen to work with the promoters of this scheme moving forward.
It is extremely positive following the enhanced work undertaken by Cambridgeshire County Council on the wider economic benefits case, to now have such a clear steer from the Minister that the Wisbech line could be prioritised with a view to starting in 2017 if locally we are united and present a strong value for money business case.

Wisbech Standard: Most positive aspect of Wisbech to March rail summit the fact Transport Minister considered it “a strategic priority”

BBC News: Hopes boosted for the reopening of the Wisbech line

Cambs Time: At £50m could the final cost of re-opening the Wisbech to March rail line prove to be a bridge too far?

Railfuture, who are leading the “Wisbech Rail Reopening Campign” welcomes this summit which will bring stakeholders together to form the partnership which is essential for any rail development proposal to succeed.

Parliamentary Rail Summit aims to connect Wisbech Rail Line


Steve Barclay MP has organised a summit on March 11th with an impressive lineup of stakeholders to drive this project forward. The Wisbech Rail Reopening campaign sees this opportunity to focus ideas, effort and plans as a very significant step towards the reopening.

Steve Barclay describes the background to this:

“Key to the regeneration of Wisbech is reconnecting the town to the rail network. This is also important to the County as a whole, not least as the economic growth in Cambridge risks being constrained by a shortage of housing, which Fenland can help address provided the transport infrastructure is put in place.

As part of my campaign to secure a Wisbech line, I have arranged a rail summit in the House of Commons on Tuesday 11th March, which Transport Minister Stephen Hammond MP has kindly agreed to attend.

I am delighted that all the key stakeholders invited have confirmed they will take part. These include, along with the Minister, Network Rail, Atkins Rail Consultancy, the Chief Executive of the Local Enterprise Partnership Graham Nix, Leader of Cambridgeshire County Councillor Cllr Martin Curtis, lead County Council transport official Graham Hughes, Leader of Fenland District Council Councillor Cllr Alan Melton, Jonathan Denby of train operator Greater Anglia, and other rail experts including Stephen Joseph OBE of the Campaign for Better Transport and Chris Austin OBE of the Rail Future Campaign group who was the author of the 2009 Connecting Communities report from ATOC.

This builds on a series of meetings in Parliament and locally to promote the case for the long overdue station at Wisbech. I met with the Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin on 19th January, the Chief Executive of the Local Enterprise Partnership Graham Nix on 14th February, have scheduled a telephone conference call on 3rd March with Steve Knight, Infrastructure Director of Network Rail, and am meeting the Secretary of State’s special adviser on 4th March.”


“the Local Enterprise Partnership’s bid due on 31st March is the best opportunity Wisbech has had for a long time to finally deliver the railway link that the town needs. I am determined not to leave any stone unturned in making the case and the rail summit is an important step forward in capitalising on the available expertise to drive this project forward.”

Cambridgeshire County Council commissions a Wider Economic benefits study for Wisbech

MP Steve Barclay reports another significant step towards the reopening of the railway to Wisbech with the announcement that the County Council are commissioning a study to look at the wider economic benefits for the line including an assessment of the transformative effects of linking Wisbech to Cambridge.

“It is great news that the Council is now undertaking an official Wider Economic Benefit Review of reopening the line to Wisbech. Previous attempts to reconnect this line have been undermined because passenger forecasts as to usage were based on the number of people in Wisbech commuting to Cambridge.

This was deeply flawed because it ignored the transformative effect the rail line will have in that people who wouldn’t currently be willing to commute to Cambridge due to the long road journey would be willing to do so if there was a short train journey in a fraction of the time.

These previous assessments on passenger usage also took place before the decision was taken to build a new railway station at Cambridge Science Park which will also speed up journey times by avoiding the need to travel into Cambridge and then back out to the science park.

A third area that past studies were not able to take on board was the significant economic growth Cambridge has seen in recent years, in particular the hugely positive announcement last year that Astra Zeneca is relocating around 400 jobs from its Macclesfield site to one consolidated site at the Cambridge science park.”

Steve Barclay MP meeting the transport minister Patrick McLoughlin

Pressure continues to build for a rail link to Wisbech with MP Steve Barclay due to meet the transport minister Patrick McLoughlin next week to press for the re-opening of the Wisbech to March rail line.
The NE Cambs MP said he would be meeting the secretary of state for transport on Wednesday “to continue to make the case for reopening the train line to Wisbech, particularly given the potential for Fenland to provide housing linked by rail to the economic growth in Cambridge. This includes good quality jobs at the Cambridge Science Park.”
The campaign is very appreciative of work Steve Barclay is doing and hopes the campaign supporters will take every opportunity to express their encouragement.

Wisbech Rail Reopening Phase 2 Study update


Councillor Martin Curtis, Sunil Gogna (Atkins) and Steve Barclay MP

The Wisbech Rail Reopening Campaign is very pleased to see this week’s news from Steve Barclay MP of progress towards the reopening of the railway from Wisbech to March. He writes about the recent meeting with Graham Hughes, Director of Strategy and Development at Cambridgeshire County Council, Councillor Martin Curtis and Sunil Gogna from rail consultancy firm Atkins to discuss the progress of the consultation into regenerating the Wisbech Rail Line, and suggests service could start to reap significant business benefits between 2016 and 2019.

There is a full description of the meeting here:

The Wisbech Rail Reopening Campaign are of course concerned about some of the compromises being considered, and will continue to press for full service from Wisbech to Cambridge service a station near the centre of Wisbech.

However, despite these reservations the news is a major step forward on the way to the line’s reopening and we would like to thank all the supporters for helping the project get to this stage and will be posting more information when it is available. Please do take any opportunity to reaffirm your support for the project to Steve Barclay MP and Cambridgeshire County Council.