Popular plans to reinstate a rail line from Haverhill to Cambridge have progressed this week after a meeting at Westminster.
Key figures from central and local government met today (Wednesday, July 12) to discuss the feasibility of building a light rail link from Cambridge to Haverhill.
Matt Hancock, the MP for Haverhill, had a meeting with James Palmer, Mayor of Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authorities, MPs such as Heidi Allen and Lucy Frazer, councillors and other interested parties at the House of Commons.
Mr Palmer previously told the News that a feasibility study is underway and that it will report by Christmas on how viable the option is.
Speaking after the meeting, Mr Hancock said:
This [plan] is very much at its earliest stages, but there is much enthusiasm from all parties. There is clearly a need for a light railway, and there is excellent leadership in Mayor James Palmer. Both feasibility and funding studies will now be looked at.
Mr Palmer said the meeting was held to show solidarity between Suffolk and Essex councils, as well as the combined authority and other MPs.
It was to give a briefing to those other participants to make sure they understand what we are trying to achieve and that it was something we want to invest in. We’re looking forward to the feasibility study, which is the next step in this process. It is useful to see there is a consensus to see this progress and to see the plans through and see it happen.
Cllr Tony Brown, who is an active member of the Rail Haverhill campaign, said there was “a great need” for light rail.
I think the business case is definitely there. Haverhill is a good choice for people who work all over the south of Cambridge. It would also benefit the town’s businesses. Haverhill people have been campaigning for a new railway since 1967 when the original railway closed. I know that it took Oxford to Cambridge rail link campaigners 30 years to get results, and they didn’t get far until they got their business case together. So, we need to run feasibility checks and make sure we have a solid business case. We’re due to have 3,700 houses built and a potential 10,000 more people in the next 15 years, so we need the light rail to take increased traffic away from the A1307. As long as all these MPs, James Palmer and others are supporting the campaign – which we have never really seen before – it is very, very significant.
In a tweet Colin Noble, leader of Suffolk County Council, said the meeting proved a constructive discussion on opportunities to radically improve transport links to the south of Cambridge, including light rail.
Mr Hancock previously said Haverhill would benefit hugely from a railway, adding that the sheer weight of traffic into the town often led to severe tailbacks and many fatal accidents.