Plea to reopen March to Spalding rail link after nearly 40 years to cut congestion, attract visitors and help employment
PUBLISHED: 12:41 17 January 2019 | UPDATED: 12:43 17 January 2019
A rail link from March to Spalding – which closed nearly 40 years ago – is “needed now as never before” to cut congestion, transport freight and provide more job opportunities, a rail pressure group says.
Campaigners believe that the line, which closed in November 1982, would bring more visitors in the region, ease traffic on local roads and help commuters travelling to and from Cambridge, Stansted Airport and South Lincolnshire.
The English Regional Transport Association (ERTA) is now calling for a study to be commissioned into the reopening after they claim a recent housing application at Cowbit “threatens to obliterate” the trackbed.
“We believe that we must tailor development around not on top of the trackbeds,” Richard Pill, from ERTA, said.
“A study should be commissioned to look at the benefits for the areas it would serve of railway reopening, albeit with modest deviations where blockages have been allowed to encroach the old route.”
When the Spalding to March line closed it meant all freight from East Anglia to Yorkshire had to run via Peterborough – which is now a major bottleneck.
In 2011, when a new road opened from Spalding to the outskirts of Peterborough, it showed some new views of the old line - which had seen a majority of the trackbed built on over the years.
Mr Pill continued: “At the Spalding end, could a new freight depot at Deepening St Nicholas also double up as a spur access to and from the Doncaster to Spalding to Peterborough line given the old junction nearer Spalding is now under housing?
“Likewise, at Whitemoor, the existing and campaigned for reopening March to Wisbech line could have a twin track set of points off of it onto the Spalding lines clearing the prison, which was built soon after closure on the old trackbed.”
The line first opened by the Great Northern Railway in 1867.
It survived numerous closures of stations in the 1960s as part of the Beeching cuts and retained a passenger service until staffing and modernisation was deemed not viable in the late 1970s.
To modernise the line it was estimated to cost around £4 million – which would be about £10 million in today’s money.
Despite less passengers using the service, the annual May Spalding flower show would attract extra trains and those from the south usually came via March.
Following the closure, what used to be a 25-minute journey increased to just over one hour 20 minutes with a change at Peterborough.