November 21 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, March 22, 2014
A railway that has been closed for almost 50 years could be brought back to life in a multi-million pound project to galvanise Suffolk’s fourth-largest town.
Cambridgeshire County Council is spearheading the early stages of plans that could lead to the rejuvenation of a service linking Haverhill to Cambridge along the former Cambridge to Colchester line, which closed in 1967.
It is part of a wider vision to invest along west Suffolk’s problematic A1307 corridor between Haverhill and Cambridge, which has been earmarked as a “growth corridor” by the New Anglia local enterprise partnership (LEP).
Last night Cambridgeshire County Council’s transport chief Dearbhla Lawson said she was “positive about the potential” of the link between Haverhill and Cambridge, while the New Anglia LEP and Suffolk County Council both lent their support to the project, which could cost up to £30million per kilometre to reinstate.
Ms Lawson, the council’s head of transport and policy infrastructure and funding, said: “In the short to medium term the focus will be on bus, to ensure a more efficient and reliable service which offers a real alternative to car.
“However, we recognise that there may be alternatives longer term, such as busway or rail-based options along the line of the former Cambridge - Colchester railway line.
“We are working with our partners to scope feasibility and options initially, and while there is a lot of work to be done, partners are positive about the potential for this key corridor. Initial work is underway, and we expect to publish results later this year.”
The Stour Valley Railway Line used to run through places such as Clare, Glemsford and Long Melford, with the line still open between Sudbury and Marks Tey.
The fledgling £100m Haverhill Research Park is located just off the A1307, while Emma Finn, New Anglia LEP’s marketing manager, said Haverhill’s manufacturing life science sectors made it “incredibly important” to the area’s economics.
She added: “In the light of the growth in Haverhill, now and in the future, it is important that there are improvements on the A1307 corridor to reduce congestion and improve travel times on a key link between Haverhill and Cambridge.”
New Anglia is due to update is rail prospectus for East Anglia later this year, and Ms Finn said “it will take account of any aspirations for a Haverhill to Cambridge train line”.
Haverhill has already been allocated £2m from New Anglia’s Growing Places Fund.
A Suffolk County Council spokesman said it was working with colleagues from Cambridgeshire on a travel study for the area, adding: “After this study is carried out we will be able to think about appropriate solutions to the problems, which may be about public transport - bus or rail - road improvements, or a combination of the two, to improve this well-used route for the public using it.”