Progress in bid to get Soham station re-opened

THE long-awaited re-opening of Soham’s train station took one step closer to becoming reality this week as Network Rail announced a �2.2billion package of investment for rail lines across East Anglia.

The owners of Britain’s rail infrastructure unveiled what it described as the “biggest investment in railway infrastructure since the Victorian era” on Tuesday, with many of the improvements set to be in place before the end of the decade.

A doubling of the track between Ely and Soham to allow for more freight to pass from Felixstowe to Nuneaton is already scheduled for completion by 2017 and Network Rail says this will improve the chances of a passenger service once again being made available in the town.

Soham has been included on a list of five new stations which could get under way in the coming years, including Cambridge Science Park.

Soham councillor James Palmer told the BBC: “Our first rung on the ladder was to get Network Rail to commit to the possibility of a station in Soham, without Network Rail’s commitment there wouldn’t have been a chance of a station so we are very, very pleased.”

Dave Ward, Network Rail route managing director for the south east, said: “The railway is busier than it ever has been and passenger numbers continue to grow every year as our railway gets busier the challenges get bigger and more complex.

“We have entered an era of trade-offs. Increasingly we have to balance the need to build more infrastructure, run trains on time and cut costs, and in many areas choices will need to be made.”

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“The plan we have set out will deliver real improvements to meet growing demand over the coming years and bring ageing parts of the network into the 21st century.

“By 2019, we will have renewed miles of overhead power lines and upgraded signalling and key junctions. This vital investment programme will pave the way for more services, new trains and a more reliable railway which supports and encourages economic growth across the east of England.”

At a meeting of the development and transport committee in December, councillors were given an update on the work being done on a business case for the station, and it is hoped that a full business case could be presented to Department of Transport this year.