Rail line could reopen

A £50 MILLION pound rail scheme to link two Suffolk towns with Cambridge could start within two years and deliver an economic boost to Sudbury and Haverhill.

A £50 MILLION pound rail scheme to link two Suffolk towns with Cambridge could start within two years and deliver an economic boost to Sudbury and Haverhill.

For the past decade the Cambridge to Sudbury Rail Renewal Association has campaigned to restore a 32-mile stretch of railway between the two towns, which was axed by Dr Beeching in the 1960s.

It is now hoped work on the first part of the route linking Haverhill to Cambridge, via several villages, could start by 2006. The link to Sudbury would follow later.

In October the association, with cash backing from St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Suffolk County Council, commissioned a £15,000 feasibility study into the need for the line.

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Consultant Julian Blackmore who is leading the study on behalf of Wilson, Lee and Partners said: “I am very optimistic that the plans to re-establish this important line could become a reality within the next few years.

“Public support has been very positive and very supportive of the line. Once the feasibility study is complete we will need to complete an engineering study and then a business study.

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“At the moment we are concentrating on establishing the link between Haverhill and Cambridge and with the correct political will and if everything goes to plan I think construction could start within two years and certainly within five years. The track beds are pretty much still in place along the entire route, so construction shouldn't pose too many problems.”

The first stage of the consultation will end in February and the results will be sent to all the relevant local authorities and rail networks in the spring.

Subject to successful negotiations between local authorities and rail companies, the association will approach the Government to get permission and funding for the scheme.

Association secretary Malcolm Hill said: “Initially we are concentrating on the Haverhill to Cambridge because feel there is a strong case there. However, continuing the link to Sudbury remains our ultimate goal and we are optimistic this will be achieved shortly after the Haverhill to Cambridge route is in place.

“The line would improve the lives of so many people, including residents, commuters, shoppers and tourists.”

If the scheme gets final approval there will be stops at Sudbury, Long Melford, Glemsford, Cavendish, Clare, Stoke-by-Clare, Haverhill, Sawston, Abington, Linton and Cambridge.

From Sudbury the route would link with existing lines to Colchester, London and also provide links to the ports of Harwich and Felixstowe.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council member and Haverhill resident Gerry Kiernan said: “It would be wonderful if we got a rail link in the next two years, but I feel that is very ambitious. There is still a lot of work to be done on land issues alone and then there is the matter of funding. I think we are a good bet for the future but I don't think we should get too excited yet.”

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