Business case to be made for Haverhill to Cambridge rail link

Revd Malcolm Hill
Revd Malcolm Hill

A business case will be put together for restoring a Haverhill to Cambridge rail link as campaigners look to push the scheme forward.

The Cambridge to Colchester Rail Project (CCRP), which seeks to restore the link removed in 1967, convened a transport consultation at Cays Inn Haverhill last Friday (7).

They are looking to get £50,000 to carry out a feasibility study on restoring the line, which would likely cost £150 million to do.

CCRP chairman Revd Malcolm Hill says 11,000 people have signed a petition calling for the line to be restored, yet was advised by business leaders that a business case for the line ought to be prioritised over a feasibility study.

“Should it be restored to Haverhill it’s people would have one of the greatest assets a community can posses, a speedy, comfortable, highway to rest of the nation and beyond,” said Revd Hill.

Cllr Ian Bates from Cambridgeshire County Council said: “Haverhill has not been forgotten from our strategy.”

He said once the Cambridge City Deal is finalised ‘tens of millions’ will be available for transport improvements.

Cllr Tony Brown said: “We can’t just keep sitting in this little valley without the transport links.

“Fifty per cent of residents commute 90 per cent of those on the A1307 where there’s major bottlenecks which are a brake on the development of this town.”

St Edmundsbury Cllr Alaric Pugh said road links are ‘the name of the game’, and added: “We have to stop talking about Haverhill as 28,000 people and start talking about it as 38,000 as it’s a growing town and most of the facilities aren’t appropriate for 28,000.”

Skills minister Matthew Hancock MP said: “Malcolm has been driving this agenda through since I was in short trousers and his tenacity and vision has been so clear that we have kept moving forward.

“A few years ago I would have been sceptical but the fact we’re building a railway from Oxford to Bedford then hopefully on to Cambridge shows a clear direction of travel with the next stop being Haverhill.

“This is an exciting time and we are going to become one of the biggest towns in the country without a dual carriageway or railway.”

Dualling the A1307 was also discussed, and Carisbrooke Investments director Nic Rumsey said it would likely cost £2.6 to £3.2 million per kilometre.

He also stated that forming an economic case for the rail link was more important than a feasibility study, and this would likely cost around £100,000.

The groups at the meeting, along with Suffolk County Council, will now work to forming the business case to illustrate the need for a railway.

Mr Hancock pledged to get Network Rail at next month’s meeting.

For all the latest news see today’s (Thursday, February 13) Echo.