Monthly Archives: July 2017

Wisbechrail Update – GRIP 3 funded

grip3

July 2017 Good News

Wisbechrail has taken a significant step forward to become reality.

One of the first initiatives of the Cambridgeshire Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) at its first meeting has been to fund the vital GRIP 3 process which looks at all the engineering options and their cost by assessing potential options and selects the most appropriate one to deliver stakeholders’ requirements.

The project has already completed to GRIP 2 which established the feasibility of the project by defining the investment goals and identifying constraints to ensure that they can be achieved both economically and strategically.

All of this is a part of a rigorous, necessary but long winded and expensive process called by the acronym GRIP which stands for “Governance of Railway Investment Projects which is essential in managing the risks and costs of a project. There are 8 stages:
1. Output definition
2. Feasibility
3. Option Selection
4. Single option development
5. Detailed design
6. Construction, test and commission
7. Scheme hand back
8. Project close out

So, behind the scenes a lot of effort has been put into getting funding to move the project into the next stage. Our Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise refused the funding in spite of the enormous local economic benefits but as stated above, the very good news is that the new Mayor of the Cambridgeshire Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) recognised the importance of Wisbechrail to the town and made the restoration central plank of his manifesto.
Through the good work of the Fenland DC ‘Wisbech 2020’ grouping, the concept of a Wisbech Garden Town has been carefully constructed in conjunction with consultants URBED. To make this exciting extension to to Wisbech work, Wisbechrail is essential. So, Wisbechrail is being progressed through the Garden Town planning, but importantly, it still is feasible without it. The Garden Town on the other hand, is not without the rail link.
The first meeting of the CPCA held in Ely on 28June, agreed the allocation of funding of £6.2m to further develop the Garden Town concept and the essential railway plan. £3.2m is allocated to the GRIP 3 process . The work will be be put out to tender and we understand several companies are interested in the work. We would hope that the GRIP 3 work will lead directly into GRIP 4, for much of the work for that will already been completed. The CPCA states it wants the railway work completed in 2 years but companies involved would want to expedite that.
Various railway projects in other parts of the country are being funded privately once they get through the expensive GRIP process. For example the East West Railway between Oxford and Cambridge seems to be going that way. We hope this will happen with the Wisbech-March ‘Wisbechrail’ project to expedite it. At the end of the build the route will be handed over to a Network Rail, with cost of the project being recouped from the fare box over 60 years.

If Wisbechrail is constructed in this way it could be ready for use in three or four years time, at the same time hopefully as all the railway works necessary around Ely. These are are necessary as the various junctions around the town are at full capacity now, especially that at Queen Adelaide, called Ely North. The business case for Wisbechrail is based on through trains to Cambridge so this work is essential for Wisbech. If the work at Ely is not completed in time for Wisbechrail we may have to accept the staging of our railway service. In first instance this may have to be a shuttle to a March and a change of trains on to the overcrowded long distance Birmingham-Stansted service.

We see the service from Wisbech being a Cambridgeshire local service calling at March, Manea, Ely, Waterbeach, Cambridge North and Cambridge, leaving the Birmingham to Stansted trains to be an express service.

Next our thoughts must turn to the site if a Wisbech station. To us it must be near the town centre so that must people can access it on foot and by bike. Any ideas?

Below are key points from the CPCA meeting and agenda:

Multi millions agreed to progress key projects
A multi-million pound package of investment aiming to deliver the future development of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, to include long-term benefits for Fenland, has been approved.

A multi-million pound package of investment aiming to deliver the future development of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, to include long-term benefits for Fenland, has been approved.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) agreed almost £16 million of funding to drive economic growth to the area and overcome long-standing infrastructure needs at its meeting on Wednesday, June 28.

It means ambitious projects supporting the delivery of thousands of new homes, more jobs, better transport links and improved education opportunities can now progress to their next stages of development.

Among the funding approved by the CPCA included:

A total of £6.5 million for the Wisbech Garden Town project, which plans to regenerate Wisbech with 10,000-12,000 homes over the next 40 years. The money will fund feasibility studies over the next two years to investigate issues such as flood risk, transportation and land acquisition, as well as the next stage of the Wisbech Rail study.

A £500,000 contribution towards the business case development for the dualling of the A47, which, along with the Wisbech Rail link, is considered a “fundamental part of bringing about significant change to the area” by improving connectivity and unlocking many wider economic benefits.

Funding of £1.25 million to investigate the feasibility, benefits and impacts of connecting the M11 in Cambridge to the A47 in the Wisbech/Guyhirn area, along with £500,000 to upgrade works on the A10.

A total of £6.5 million to accelerate the establishment of a University of Peterborough. The funding will be used to help increase student numbers at the University Centre Peterborough (UCP) and turn it into a fully independent university by 2020; providing an opportunity for Fenland residents to study for a degree nearby.

A bid for £25,000 to fund a feasibility study into the use of modular homes. The work will consider the benefits of using off-site housing manufacturing, including the associated benefits of new skills and employment as well as the acceleration of housing delivery.

An allocation of £145,000 to establish an independent Economic Commission, which will complete an economic review of the CPCA area. The review will give unbiased evidence about the area’s economic performance, demonstrating potential for growth and helping to influence high-level national decisions.

Furthermore, the Board approved four schemes to be submitted to the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF) run by the Department for Transport. The go-ahead was given for Cambridgeshire County Council to enter bids for A47 junction improvements, junction improvements in March to address congestion problems, further Wisbech access study work and A605 access improvements between Whittlesey and Stanground.

Welcoming the funding, Fenland District Council leader John Clark said: “The devolution deal to devolve central government spending to local areas has started to produce real cash investment that should hopefully lead to tangible outcomes for Fenland and its residents.

“This vital support from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority means numerous projects can now progress to the next stage and bring them a step closer to making a huge difference to our area.”

Included in the bid is £3.2 million to carry out the next stage of the Wisbech Rail study. The report says the reopening of the rail link is seen as a “fundamental part of bringing about significant change to the area” by improving connectivity and unlocking many wider economic benefits.
In addition to asking the CPCA to support the funding bid, Fenland District Council will recommend that the Garden Town activity integrates with the Wisbech 2020 Vision programme to ensure “a holistic approach to the economic, social and environmental aspirations for the town”.

Page 147. Wisbech rail is a fundamental part of bringing about significant change to the area by improving sub-regional and regional connectivity and helping to improve the economic function of the place. Tying into the wider Cambridgeshire and East of England economy will serve as a significant benefit to attracting new economies to the area.

The work required is the GRIP3 study.

However,The team will test these assumptions and seek an alternative provider to Network Rail in fulfilling the requirements of GRIP3.

Options to either public run or private run operations will be reported back thus ensuring options have appropriate consideration before undertaking significant capital investment if required.

The CA approved the allocation of the full £6.5m for Wisbech Garden Town feasibility work, which includes the GRIP3 rail study. This work will take 2 years and will be progressed in an incremental way to prove the relevant cases with regular gateway reviews to assess progress and approve continuation.