It could be five years before Soham rail station re-opens but even that depends on who foots £6m bill
- Credit: Archant
Soham can expect to wait at least five years to get its rail station re-opened unless agreement can be reached sooner to foot the £6million bill.
The Government’s announcement this week of cash for the regions excluded mention of either Ely’s £8million bypass or Soham station.
A year after both Cambridgeshire County Council and East Cambridgeshire Council disclosed a business plan for re-opening Soham station was being prepared, council officials said the scheme was still “pencilled in” for the tail end of Network Rail’s 2015-19 proposals.
East Cambs council leader James Palmer said: “I will not rest until we have delivered this project which will help to transform our district”.
It remains a “prioritised” scheme within the forward plans for the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) who hopes for Government funding of £1million across 2016/17 and 2016/18 to part pay for it.
However whether the Government backs that bid – or helps with the rest of the costs- remain unclear and meanwhile LEP’s start date of 2016 looks optimistic.
“Bringing a railway station back to Soham is one of the key projects not just for the district council but for the county and region,” said Cllr Palmer. “We know the station would have significant economic benefits for East Cambridgeshire and it would also make a real difference to the lives of residents in Soham. We are actively accessing different funding options at present.”
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The station closed in 1965 and a consultant’s report last year suggested it could generate around 300 trips a day into Ely and Cambridge and would be viable.
A LEP spokesman confirmed Soham station remained in their strategic plan “but it is not in our proposals for funding. The earliest start date is 2016/17 and the Government said we could only bid for 2015/16.
“But the Government has also asked us to start negotiations soon on the next round of bidding”
The spokesman confirmed that although Network Rail retained it in their strategic plan they had not allocated any money towards it.
“If we could get the money locally that would be different,” said the LEP spokesman.