A new multi-million pound railway line linking west Suffolk to Cambridge has been backed by bosses at an influential regional campaign group.
Railfuture East Anglia has strengthened the calls to reopen the Colchester to Cambridge line after giving their support to a packed public meeting in Haverhill last week.
The line would allow trains to reach Cambridge from Haverhill in 20 minutes, with the campaign to reopen the line being spearheaded by Rail Haverhill and The Cambridge to Colchester Rail Project.
Re-opening the line is one of a number of options being considered by both Cambridgeshire and Suffolk county councils to ease congestion on the A1307, with dualling the road and a better bus service also on the table.
Last week’s meeting saw unanimous backing for re-opening the railway line and none for running a guided busway between them.
Railfuture East Anglia’s Peter Wakefield said:
The new railway will be well positioned to provide a high quality service from the important centres on this corridor. There will be a two-way flow to make the provision of such a high-quality link financially viable. It will also have the potential for the line to be linked into a reopened railway beyond Haverhill as a route into Essex/Suffolk – it is just 16 miles further on to the existing railway at Sudbury. This would make a direct railway route from Cambridge to Colchester, and would immensely improve the connectivity of Haverhill.
Mr Wakefield added it was “essential” the line was reconnected as a railway line rather than a guided busway, such as that which runs between Cambridge and Addenbrooke’s Hospital.
Cambridgeshire County Council’s local transport plan says the short to medium-term focus will be on providing better bus transport between Cambridge and Haverhill, although its long-term vision is to provide a “high quality public transport corridor” between the two – either bus or rail.
The county council had previously estimated the railway line could cost up to £30million per kilometre to reinstall.
Haverhill has grown to become Suffolk’s fourth-biggest town over the past decade, with its population set to reach 40,000 within 15 years.