marco cereste

Peter Risebrow & Steve Barclay MPUpdate 19/11/2014: Please see above a letter from the Leader of Peterborough City Council, Marco Cereste, who has confirmed that he is fully in support of a direct rail link between King’s Lynn and Peterborough, in conjunction with the proposed Wisbech rail line. The case for reopening the Wisbech rail line was further strengthened last week at the launch of the Wisbech 2020 Infrastructure for Growth lobby, where an industry led study revealed that re-opening the link will cut travelling times to Cambridge by more than half and costs by a third. Click here to see my blog on this issue.


The proposed new station at Wisbech could open up an even greater benefit for the Eastern region by enabling a King’s Lynn to Peterborough direct service. This would speed up journeys to the Midlands and North, and reflect the significant population growth plans of the region.

I had a very interesting meeting this week with Peter Risebrow, who has a lifetime of rail experience having first joined British Rail in 1978 before moving to Eurostar to act as project manager for the move in operations from Waterloo to St. Pancras Station.

Peter highlighted how the Wisbech to March line could unlock a wider benefit by enabling a direct route between King’s Lynn and Peterborough. Whilst some extra track will be needed, this would save an hour’s journey time between Kings Lynn and Birmingham (it currently takes three and a half hours). It would also enable a King’s Lynn to London service to run every half hour throughout the day from 2017 as opposed to being constrained at certain times by freight under existing plans.

A direct Kings Lynn to Peterborough via Wisbech service would also release pressure on the current bottleneck at Ely. It would immediately relieve Ely of four existing freight trains a day and, given the increased freight planned, absorb even more freight capacity in the future.

Looking proactively at the potential for rail between Wisbech and Kings Lynn also has potential highways benefits. There would be scope to undertake dualling of the A47 between Walton and Wisbech, change the A1101 roundabout, and address the accident hotspot at Broad End roundabout junction alongside planning the track.

I will discuss this proposal further with my parliamentary colleagues, Liz Truss MP, Henry Bellingham MP and Stewart Jackson MP. Liz has already said ‘I think this is an excellent proposal put forward by my neighbouring MP Steve Barclay and would have real economic benefits for the area. The opening up of connections to Wisbech will certainly complement existing key infrastructure.

Stewart Jackson MP for Peterborough said, ‘I congratulate my colleague Steve Barclay MP on this campaign. Anything that improves the local transport infrastructure in North East Cambridgeshire is good for Peterborough and I look forward to working with my colleagues on this proposal.’

I have also been in discussions with Stephen Joseph OBE, Executive Director of Campaign for Better Transport who said, ‘It’s important to keep a focus on the reopening to Wisbech, and to make the wider economic case for that. However, it’s also important to plan for the longer term, and make sure that anything done now keeps the door open for future links, including potentially to Kings Lynn and Peterborough.’

It is too early to say whether the business case will justify extending the re-opening of the Wisbech line upto King’s Lynn and I would not want to do anything to delay that key priority. However, it is an interesting idea which warrants serious consideration, and it makes sense to look at it when deciding the location of the Wisbech station so that this is not closed off in the future.

With his agreement, I enclosed detailed papers (please see attachment at the top of the page) provided by Mr Risebrow. I hope this will help inform debate and attract further ideas from others with relevant expertise.

Progress on the Wisbech line itself is continuing. Following the industry support identified at the recent Wisbech 2020 summit, Anglian Water, Motts/Grontmij and Skanska will be attending a technical workshop with Cambridgeshire County Council and FenlandDistrict Council on October 15th to bring their expertise to the project. I am particularly keen to see how their industry expertise can help drive down costs – for example to reduce the number of level crossings – which in turn will strengthen the business case.

After the October 15th industry / council technical workshop I hope Cambs County Council will then finally confirm the timescales for the high level engineering study (known as a Grip 2 study) which is the next step. Having secured government funding for this work I am keen to see it begin.

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