Network Rail is slammed for slowing down a new rail station for Soham
PUBLISHED: 12:40 28 February 2018 | UPDATED: 12:40 28 February 2018
Network Rail has been slammed for creating "frankly ridiculous" red tape which means it is taking far too long to build a new train station in Soham.
The scheme suffered delays when project costs escalated from £1.5 to £2.5 million.
It is now thought the station will not be ready until 2022.
Mayor James Palmer said: “As a Soham resident, I’ve been pushing for a new train station for almost a decade. It’s extremely frustrating that we are still so far off it being delivered.
“It’s a fairly straight forward scheme and I fail to see why it needs to take so long and cost so much. I think it raises major questions about Network Rail’s effectiveness as an organisation.
“My understanding is that the reason why the commencement of the next stage of the studies has been delayed is because of the projected cost rising from £1.5 million to £2.5 million.
“This is a significant increase and as of yet it has not been justified by Network Rail. Why does “GRIP 3C” take approximately eighteen months to complete? This seems like an extraordinary length of time.
“I will not accept these kinds of time lines for such a straight forward project. I will meet with senior representatives from Network Rail and the Department for Transport over the next few months to make my views clear.
“It’s clear to me that delivering the station within an acceptable time frame will likely involve the Combined Authority having to take the project from Network Rail at an appropriate juncture.”
The construction of the station is scheduled to take place between May 2021 and May 2022.
The final stages of the project, called a GRIP 3c study, was delayed due to the escalating costs.
That stage began in January this year.
Last autumn the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority contributed £1.5 million towards the completion of GRIP 3.
Councillor Charles Roberts, leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council and Deputy Mayor, said: “Soham is a fast growing town and its essential that the train station is delivered as soon as possible even if in the first instance its only a one platform station with a limited service.
“As it so often the case, the time scales set out by Network Rail are frankly ludicrous.
“The construction of the actual station, the physical structure, doesn’t take long at all, unfortunately its the overly complex and bureaucratic Network Rail processes that are holding everything up.
“I will work with the Mayor to ensure that we soundly beat the unambitious timescales outlined by Network Rail. The Combined Authority needs to be about doing things differently and this is yet another great example of where a different approach is needed.”