The long-awaited re-opening of Wisbech railway station took a step closer today with the announcement of £1million of government funding.
This is a cause that I have been lobbying ministers on since my election in 2010 and therefore today’s breakthrough announcement of central government funding for the Local Enterprise Partnership’s (LEP) Wisbech Access Strategy is especially welcome.
The money, which will be available in April 2015, is for two feasibility studies, which could see transport improvements on both road and rail in Fenland.
The first £250,000 is for a detailed engineering study, known as GRIP 2 study, which will determine how Network Rail can deliver the project to re-open Wisbech railway station and re-instate the rail link between Wisbech and March. The other is for detailed feasibility work into dualling the Wisbech to Guyhirn stretch of the A47. A further £500,000 is to be made available the following year.
For years the people of Wisbech have felt forgotten with a disgraceful transport infrastructure situation in which residents have had no train station and less than two miles of dual carriageway in the whole district.
Today’s announcement is the breakthrough we have been waiting for. Now we need either Cambridgeshire County Council or Fenland District Council to agree to spend the money from their reserves on the understanding the funding will be forthcoming in April.
I am awaiting written Ministerial confirmation for either or both of the councils to use their reserves to enable the studies to be carried out this year on the understanding the money will be coming next year.
We really need this work to be done as soon as possible so we can then start pushing for the next round of funding to progress the schemes even further. Everyone I speak to locally tells me how important it is for the area’s economic growth to have a rail link for Wisbech and the A47 upgraded to dual-carriageway, so the sooner we can make progress the better.
On Friday I welcomed Robert Goodwill, Under Secretary of State for Transport, to Wisbech to discuss the issue of the A47 and the need for the stretch between Wisbech and Guyhirn to be made dual-carriageway to safe-guard the area’s economic growth.
Robert spent the day travelling the A47 starting from Lowestoft and finishing in Peterborough to see just why the upgrade of this major arterial route should be given maximum priority by the government, which has identified millions of extra pounds to improve the country’s major routes.