Stephen Barclay, the MP for North East Cambridgeshire, talked to Chris Austin about making the case for Wisbech in the latest edition of Railfuture’s national magazine “Railwatch”.
The desire to improve prospects for his constituents is the main factor that convinced MP Stephen Barclay of the need for better links between the two parts of the county. The 4,000 signatures on the reopening petition served to underline his judgement here. Restoration of the line has been proposed several times before but has never got anywhere. The first problem was that it had no business case and that previous studies had shown little benefit in return for the capital cost of restoration. Looking more closely at the scheme, Stephen Barclay saw that earlier analysis had focused on the transport case, but not evaluated the wider economic benefits.
In addition, the scheme had no champion, partly because of the poor economic case, and partly because the local authority had run into difficulties with previous major transport schemes, including the notorious St Ives busway. Stephen Barclay pays tribute to Martin Curtis, the leader of Cambridgeshire, for supporting the wider benefits study which transformed the case for the line.
Now the project has a sound business case and full support from the county council and the LEP as a priority. In political terms, Stephen Barclay has built a strong case for the line, not primarily to link Wisbech to the national network, but in support of the Government’s £1 billion Cambridge City Deal, designed to develop the potential of this internationally renowned city.
Stephen Barclay’s thoughtful and strategic approach has built a strong case for Wisbech, and we will see passenger trains there, perhaps as early as control period six (2019-24). This is a textbook case on how to tackle reopenings, but you cannot take anything for granted and we all need to continue to make the case until the trains start running.
Download the full article here (PDF download):
Page 1: http://www.wisbechrail.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/railwatch_wisbech1.pdf
Page 2: http://www.wisbechrail.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/railwatch_wisbech2.pdf
View this (July 2014) and earlier editions of Railwatch here: