At £50m could the final cost of re-opening the Wisbech to March rail line prove to be a bridge too far?
17:13 11 March 2014
The cost of providing Wisbech with a rail link could top £50m says a new report.
Cambridgeshire County Council revealed that could be the final bill if a rail bridge over the A47 is included.
Even if a station was provided south of the A47 the total cost could still be in excess of £30m.
The figures were revealed on the day MP Steve Barclay hosted a rail ‘summit’ at the House of Commons to consider re-opening of the rail line with March.
The county council says precise details of the capital costs involved are still being finalised by their consultants Atkins.
The council commissioned the study to consider capital costs following a 2012 report by Atkins which concluded that the case for a light rail service between Wisbech and March “looks promising, compared to conventional rail subject to the capital costs being affordable”.
However the council said the “initial central cost estimates potential costs for upgrading the line plus a station in Wisbech at £37m and the cost of an A47 bridge of £15.6m.
“Costs for upgrading the line with a station south of the A47 are estimated at £31m. “These are early estimates with high levels of uncertainty at this stage.”
Further more detailed work would be needed to firm up estimates, said the spokesman.
“The study is currently in final draft form for checking and we will look to publish this as soon as we can, hopefully within the week.”
The council said it had also commissioned a “wider economic benefits” study to include how investment could help address key challenges and aspirations for the Wisbech area.
The spokesman said: “Initial findings are looking quite promising in terms of how improved accessibility could help with developing the potential for the area and the local economy longer term. Our aim is to finalise this study by the end of March and consider the results and case together.”