News

18th June 2013 – Campaign Update

We are planning to present the petition to Cambridgeshire County Council in mid-July and in the last month hope to push the total number of supporters from the current total of 3300 to 3500 and above. Please encourage friends and family to sign the petition and help us further increase its impact.

At the end of May the Wisbech Rail Reopening Campaign volunteers distributed leaflets to every household in Manea. We received a very positive response with many new supporters. A through Wisbech to Cambridge rail service stopping at Manea would greatly benefit the village which has an extremely limited service despite its expanding population. Only 4 trains a day stop there; a couple in the early morning and a couple in the early evening.

26th April 2013 – Campaign Update

Wisbech Railway Reopening Campaign

It is well known in Wisbech and district that there have been several attempts to re-establish a national railway link back into the town. It should not be difficult, the thinking of most people goes, to get a service up and running over just seven miles of existing track! In spite of the clear need for a railway service into the town, the various councils and others concerned failed to understand the need to champion a project that would satisfy needs of the town. … it has always seemed too difficult. Those ‘in power’ in other places, whether in the county or nationally, seemed to regard the various efforts to re- establish the link as some self- indulgent fringe activity that really had nothing to do with the real economy or the real lives of people in the town and district in spite of the local support engendered… and another problem was that the various well- meaning attempts got somehow politicised.

The present campaign comes about in a time when there seems to be at long last a realisation that good public transport links are essential to the quality of life, for enabling economic growth and reducing the impact of travel on the environment. There is a realisation that rail, in particular, has the unique ability to offer fast and efficient connectivity for businesses and communities. The County Council took the lead in recognising that Wisbech needed to be better connected by undertaking, through its Local Transport Plan 3, to conduct a feasibility study into reviving the mothballed seven miles of railway from the centre of Wisbech to March, allowing direct access to the national railway network. The County Council is currently doing just that. There has also been clear support for the concept from Wisbech Town Council, the Member of Parliament for the town, Mr. Stephen Barclay and positive references in various documents from the District Council. Railfuture East Anglia has spoken to all these authorities and is convinced of the goodwill now current to see the project through to a positive conclusion. We very much hope the current political consensus will prevail. Members of the County Council from all parties are in favour and we hope they will work together to achieve this project for the good of the town. Nationally there is consensus within all the mainstream political parties of the need to rebuild and enhance our railway network, which is now carrying more passengers than any time in its history.

Railfuture East Anglia is part of a national, strictly non- political, voluntary group of several thousand members, who entirely self- fund the organisation. Local members have always been active in trying to get the route reopened since the ’70s. It has been a campaign priority.

With so many words being spoken about reopening the route at several levels of late, and after meetings with the MP, the town council and county council officials, we decided to pull all the strands together and let every household in Wisbech know what is happening, as is their democratic right. We had 10,000 leaflets printed at our own expense, and undertook to deliver one to each house as far as possible, in Wisbech. This has been completed by a team local Railfuture members – who now have very sore feet. (Some blocks of flats have proved difficult to access so we apologise to residents living in those for not handing you the leaflet.) At the same time we set up the http://www.wisbechrail.org.uk website, which contains an on-line petition which can be signed. The leaflet referred to this petition and asked recipients to sign it as way of demonstrating their support for the railway reopening concept and a through train service to Cambridge initially.

The petition has generated extraordinary interest in Wisbech and district, with active support from individuals, schools and businesses. To date, over 2500 people have signed it. Remember, the process is read the leaflet then go to the website, read the material there and then sign. This is intended to be informative as well as simply gathering names for the petition. For those people not on-line we have left a paper copy of the petition at the library, members have been spreading the word and gathering signatures in the town centre, and several non- members have gone out of their way to collect signatures from their local community and posted the completed forms back to us. We have posted petition forms to people on request, and these forms can also be downloaded from our website to print out … so signing the petition has been a thoughtful process.

We have deliberately not advertised the website nationally but of course it is on the world web so there are a few signees nationally…the vast majority are in the PE postcode areas and some in the CB postcode areas. 2500 and climbing is an excellent indication to our politicians that Wisbech wants a railway. If they could read the positive comments on Facebook and twitter it would open tomorrow.

Delivering 10,000 leaflets have proven to be a huge task. This task has reinforced to us just how big Wisbech is. Its population is 33,000 when all those who live in the town, the adjacent joined up villages in Cambridgeshire AND in Norfolk are added together. It is one of the largest towns in the nation without a railway station. There is a huge demand for the railway station and the service out to the fast growing economy of our county town.

We have urged the County Council to assess the demand for a new hourly service along the whole route between Wisbech and Cambridge. This would provide an additional hourly service from March to Cambridge doubling the current service and growing usage from March. It would generate new to rail usage from the growing village of Manea and may even be attractive for some commuters currently driving from Chatteris into Cambridge for work. The new service would provide valuable relief to the severely overloaded peak train services between Ely, Waterbeach and Cambridge as well as providing good connections into fast London trains at Cambridge. A Cambridge to March and Wisbech service would also meet the needs of local people by providing later trains in the evening compared to the current timetable which is based on the needs of long distance passengers. The final service from Cambridge to March is currently a full 3 hours before the final service from Cambridge to Kings Lynn. We also note that the current hourly March to Cambridge and return service is full with long distance travellers all day long.

Join all those people who have signed the petition to keep the new County Council focussed on reopening the railway.

We hope to present the petition to the new County Council once it has been established in May.

7th March 2013 – Press Release

“Two weeks ago we launched a local website called “Reconnecting Wisbech to the national rail network”

Railfuture, the national rail campaign organisation has launched a petition calling for Cambridgeshire residents ( and others who wish to travel to Wisbech by train) to back the move to re-open the railway line. Railfuture want to see a direct train service from the Fenland town to Cambridge, a journey that could take just 40 minutes, providing Wisbech with better transport links and assisting development.

Railfuture East Anglia Branch Chairman Peter Wakefield who launched the new web-site and petition said: “Since this petition was launched, Cambridgeshire County Council has published Stage One of the Wisbech to March Rail Study which shows that reopening the line is viable but there is a lot to do before the first train arrives. Only with residents getting actively behind what could a long campaign, will it happen.”

The petition and a link to Stage 1 of the Report can be found on the web-site: https://wisbechrail.org.uk/

We are delighted to report that to-date 650 residents of Cambridgeshire have signed the online petition. We shall shortly leaflet the entire town of Wisbech and expect
this figure to rapidly grow. When the petition closes in a few weeks, it will be presented to the County Council as encouragement for it to persevere in its work to reconnect the 60,000 residents of Wisbech and the surrounding area to the national railway network.

The Petitioners are calling for an eventual hourly train service from Wisbech to Cambridge which will also benefit: March by providing more capacity direct into Cambridge; Manea for the growing village and surrounding Fenland area and through Ely to the County Council sponsored station at Cambridge Science Park station and of course Cambridge station.

The current train service from March to Cambridge runs just hourly and runs full most of the day. It is overwhelmed during the peak periods.

There are many in Cambridge and Ely who would often wish to make the reverse journey to Wisbech, including tourists, college and school students.
Please sign the petition at https://wisbechrail.org.uk/

For those who wish to collect signatures on paper, a form can downloaded from the petition site along with a poster supporting the campaign.

23rd February 2013 – Petition passes 400 supporters

400 people have now signed the petition. Many thanks to everyone for spreading news about the campaign.
In the next month we will distributing leaflets to thousands of households in Wisbech which will hopefully send hundreds more people to the campaign.
If you would like to help by displaying posters, we have put a copy on our resources page:
https://wisbechrail.org.uk/resources/
There is also a copy of the leaflet we will be distributing.
Thanks again for your help to reconnect Wisbech to the National Rail network.

11th February 2013 – Railfuture launches the Wisbech Rail Reopening Campaign