Campaigners want to reopen forgotten Cambridgeshire railway stations, but could it be done?
PUBLISHED: 05:06 24 February 2017
Reopening train stations in Cambridgeshire could solve the Greater Cambridge congestion crisis, say lobby group.
Reopening disused railway stations in the Greater Cambridge area is gaining support from residents who believe trains could be the solution to combating congestion.
Stations on the 14-mile Newmarket line could be used by commuters if the line were to be double-tracked – and Railfuture East Anglia says such work would be more beneficial than the controversial proposed busway between Cambridge and Cambourne.
Ambitions for the future include the reopening of stations, such as Fulbourn, and expansion of the rail network to connect with a Cambridge metro, getting people out of their cars and enabling commuting by rail from Wisbech and further afield.
Railfuture East Anglia chair Peter Wakefield said the current single track could allow only one commuter train every hour from Newmarket, but if the line were double-tracked it could support a lot more services.
Investment in the Newmarket line would be complementary to a system that looks at ideas for light rail, including an underground around Cambridge, and improvements to the regional rail network.
Mr Wakefield said: “A lot of things are happening with rail nationwide, but we need to make sure Cambridgeshire keeps up. The new mayor’s office might well be a big step forward.
“People from King’s Lynn, Wisbech and places all around could get to Cambridge station and then we just need to get them that last mile across the city. That way people would leave their car behind.
“Because new trains are coming online for London services, there will be thousands of spaces that could serve a huge demand at this end of the route.”
He said rail provides a permanency and reliability that would encourage effective modal shift from road vehicles. A crude estimate proposes the double-tracking could cost £60million and could support a minimum of two trains an hour.
Mr Wakefield continued: “We feel that the City Deal could fund this. It probably isn’t either or, but it would be a lot better than a bus to Cambourne.”
The old Fulbourn station would not necessarily be the site of a new station. Ideas include a new station nearer to Cherry Hinton that would better suit commuters and impact less on Fulbourn residents.
The City Deal is starting a strategic plan to 2050 and will consider rural ‘travel hubs’ attached to village railway stations this year.