MP supports bid to reopen Haverhill to Cambridge railway line
An MP has pledged support for a funding bid to investigate reopening the Haverhill to Cambridge railway line.
Railfuture East Anglia has made the bid to the Department for Transport’s Restore Your Railway fund to re-establish the rail link between the Suffolk town and the city.
Earlier this month, the GCP’s executive board agreed to seek planning permission for its Cambridge South East Transport (CSET) busway to connect Cambridge Biomedical Campus with the A11.
Anthony Browne, the Tory MP for South Cambridgeshire, said: “Cambridgeshire is one of the most successful regions in the country. If we are to continue to thrive then we must have fast, reliable public transport to spread the ‘Cambridge Phenomenon’ beyond the city. But less damaging options should always be considered before pouring any more concrete over our greenbelt.
“Re-opening the Haverhill line that was lost to Beeching’s axe may well be the answer, which is why I’m calling for an exploratory study. On balance, it seems faster and less environmentally destructive than the CSET busway, taking a better route to major employment sites without the need giant car parks in open countryside. I’m heartened to see this route also has more support, with neighbouring MPs and local transport groups already engaging with the scheme.
“I am actively seeking better ways to adapt our current road and rail networks, supporting bids to open new stations on existing rail lines at Harston and Sawston and securing funds for upgrades to the A428 and A10. We can get South Cambridgeshire moving without destroying what little remains of our environmental heritage.”
Mr Browne has written to rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris to give his support to the bid, stating the “Greater Cambridge Partnership’s current plans for off-road busways are not ambitious enough to meet the long-term transport needs of our region”.
Peter Wakefield, of Railfuture Anglia East, said the organisation was “delighted” with Mr Browne’s support for the bid which, if successful, will enable a full business and feasibility study to be produced.
Mr Wakefield said: “He joins the thousands of residents in the Haverhill area who have signed the petition for their railway to be restored that will give them a socially inclusive, fast, safe, car-free link to the national rail network that other towns in our area already enjoy.”
The GCP previously considered the Haverhill rail option and ruled it out after a viability study in 2015, concluding that rail schemes would achieve poor value for money.
A GCP spokesperson said: “The GCP is creating a fully integrated transport network to provide faster, greener journeys to help people get to work, education and other opportunities.
“Thousands of people travel through the A1307 and A10 every day to work at or visit the Cambridge Biomedical Campus and other key employment sites in the south. The Cambridge South East Transport project – which is supported by the Biomedical Campus, Addenbrooke’s hospital, and businesses – will help take hundreds of cars off the road every day by providing frequent and reliable journeys from growing communities to the south-east - alongside a dedicated active travel route for walking and cycling.
“The scheme has been developed in accordance with Department for Transport guidelines through four public consultations.”