Study into rail link options

By Patrick LowmanA £15,000 feasibility study has been launched to assess the need to re-establish an historic rail line between two East Anglian market towns.

By Patrick Lowman

A £15,000 feasibility study has been launched to assess the need to re-establish an historic rail line between two East Anglian market towns.

For the past six years the Cambridge to Sudbury Rail Renewal Association has campaigned to have a 32-mile rail link between the two towns, axed by Dr Beeching in the 1960s, renewed.

The association has now set up a limited company and has commissioned Norwich-based market research company Wilson Lee and Partners to carry out a feasibility study into the demand for the line.

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Both St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Suffolk County Council has donated funds towards the study.

The initial phase of the study will take three months to complete and will concentrate on establishing a light rail link, which could be upgraded upon demand, between Haverhill and Cambridge.

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After meeting with rail authority representatives earlier this year, the association decided to initially concentrate on establishing a link between Haverhill and Cambridge, as Haverhill is one of the fastest growing industrial towns in Britain without a rail link.

Association secretary, Malcolm Hill, said: "If the market research shows there is a great demand and need for a rail link between Haverhill and Cambridge we will then take the information to local representatives, the Government and the relevant rail authorities.

"They will then have to decide whether to put forward funds to construct the line. Once the line between Haverhill and Cambridge is established, we will then continue with our campaign to link the route to Sudbury."

Terry McGerty, director of business group Haverhill Enterprise, said: "Having a rail link would be a very good development for the town. Haverhill has grown rapidly, but the infrastructure hasn't grown with it.

"Having a rail link to another major town would provide an economic boost and would also benefit all the people in Haverhill who work in Cambridge."

If the 32-mile route finally gets the go ahead, it would cost in region of £50million and stops would be at Sudbury, Long Melford, Stoke-by-Clare, Haverhill, Linton and Cambridge.

From Sudbury, the route would link up with existing lines to Colchester and London. It would also provide an important link to seaports such as Harwich and Felixstowe, making it easier for travellers to access the continent.

Last year South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo and members of the renewal association travelled to London to hand over 10,400-signature petition in support of re-establishing the line to transport minister John Spellar.

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