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Cambridgeshire County Council Leaflet in Support of Reopening Passenger Services on the Railway (1994)
The original line from Cambridge to St Ives was opened in 1847 by the
Great Eastern Railway. The line operated successfully during an era of
rail growth with patronage levels sustaining service through to the
1960's. With the growth in the ownership and use of private cars
patronage declined and in1970 British Rail ceased passenger services.
Freight had always been an important component of the rail traffic on this
line and the sand and gravel pits at Fen Drayton ensured that the line did
not fall out of use completely until January 1993. British Rail now wish
to dispose of the redundant line.
Cambridgeshire County Council, supported by South Cambridgeshire District
Council, Cambridge City Council and Huntingdonshire District Council have
carried out a preliminary study of the feasibility of re-introducing a
passenger service. The findings of this study are encouraging.
The County Council is now in the process if acquiring the redundant line
and developing in detail the proposed re-opening scheme. South
Cambridgeshire District Council has offered a contribution towards the
acquisition cost and it is hoped that the other Districts will be able to
follow this lead.
WHY A RAIL REOPENING?
The Cambridge area has a strong, prosperous local economy that will
continue growing well into the next century, with the continuing inward
investment and growth of local companies. With this growth there is the
accompanying demand for travel. The corridor in which the Cambridge - St
Ives branch line runs also accommodates the A14 trunk road. Traffic on
the road has increased by 75% in the last 10 years and it now carries up
to 63,000 vehicles/day. The extension of this route into Cambridge
carries 20,000 vehicles/day.
The County Council's transport strategy for Cambridge is based on
sustainability. Growth in demand for motor vehicle movement in the City
cannot be matched simply by new road building. Attractive and effective
alternatives to the private car must be sought. The Cambridge - St Ives
railway provides such an opportunity.
Over the past decade there have been numerous reopenings of stations and
disused sections of railway line through England and Wales. Some of the
best known examples are the Robin Hood Line in Nottinghamshire and the
Ribble Valley Line in Lancashire. The further and more detailed
evaluation of the Cambridge - St Ives line will draw on the experience
gained elsewhere. This work and the task of obtaining the necessary
funding for the scheme will be quite lengthy. Realistically, it is likely
to be several years before the scheme could be in operation.
WHAT TYPE OF SERVICE IS BEING PROPOSED AND WHO WILL USE IT?
High quality modern trains are proposed providing fast and comfortable
journeys into the City. There would be stations in the villages en-route
and in the Science Park on the northern fringe on Cambridge. The service
would run on a half hour 'clock face' frequency with journeys between
Cambridge and St Ives taking only 22 minutes.
The rail service would be well suited to service employment centres within
Cambridge. In addition, journeys to the Regional College near to the
Science Park Station would be well provided for. Initial studies suggest
that overall some 3,500 passengers every day would use the service.
[ Map showing stations: ]
- St Ives (500 space park and ride site)
- Oakington (500 space park and ride site)
- Science Park
THE SCHEME COSTS
Preliminary estimates have been made for the costs of providing an
electric train service. This includes acquiring the rail track and land
for car parks, providing stations, up-grading the line, leasing rolling
stock in addition to staff and maintenance costs.
|Setting up costs:|
|Land Acquisition/Car Parks ||£ 3.0m|
|Railway Engineering Works ||£15.0m|
|Total System Set Up Costs ||£18.0m|
|Annual operating Costs for the Railway|
|Rolling Stock leasing ||£0.70m|
|Other Operating Costs ||£0.55m|
|Total Annual Operating Costs ||£1.25m|
It now seems unlikely that the service could run through Cambridge station
to destinations in the south of the City and beyond. This suggests that a
diesel 'Sprinter' service, operating as a 'shuttle' between Cambridge and
St Ives, could be more cost-effective. This option is now being studied.
FINANCING THE SCHEME
The initial study suggests that the costs of daily operation would be
covered by the revenues generated from passengers. If there were any
shortfall, this cost would have to be met by the promoting authority.
Funding the setting up of the railway would have to come from:
The Department of Transport has been consulted and is advising on the
development of the scheme. Beyond this the scope for approaching the
European Union for funding is being explored. EU funding has been
forthcoming for similar schemes. The opportunity for private sector
funding will also be pursues. Major new developments that would benefit
from the rail service offer potential in this direction.
- Department of Transport Section 56 Grant
- Local Authorities
- Private Sector contributions
- Possible funding from the European Union
IS THERE ANY SUPPORT FOR THE REOPENING?
South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cambridge City Coucil and
Huntingdonshire District Coucil are supportive. There has been a strong
body of support from local residents and other interested organisations.
THE NEXT STEPS
Finalise the acquisition of the disused route to St Ives.
Undertake discussions with the Railway Inspectorate to establish
operating standards for the railway.
Approach Rail Franchise Companies to identify operational interest.
Consult Railtrack on rail engineering aspects.
Discuss the project with the Rail Franchise Director and the Rail
Undertake a detailed engineering and operational appraisal.
Refine the patronage forecasts.
Undertake Section 56 Grant discussions with the Department of Transport
and seek Private Sector contributions.
The revenues, Benefits and cost estimates are all preliminary figures.
there have to be refined and their robustness investigated in conjunction
with the rail industry and the Depatment of Transport. The feasibility of
alternative transport uses has to be explored. Subject to this assessment
a Section 56 grant application will be made to the Department of
Cambridge County Council
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