Soham rail station could reopen nine months ahead of schedule as Combined Authority bosses ‘challenge how infrastructure can be delivered’

PUBLISHED: 10:24 18 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:38 18 July 2018

Lucy Frazer MP met with County Councillor Joshua Schumann in 2014 to discuss the potential for a new railway station in Soham. PHOTO: Lucy Frazer MP

Lucy Frazer MP met with County Councillor Joshua Schumann in 2014 to discuss the potential for a new railway station in Soham. PHOTO: Lucy Frazer MP

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A rail station for Soham could be built nine months ahead of schedule, a new report has revealed.

The report, which will go before the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) board on July 25, describes how the £2.5 million station could be built by summer 2021 instead of March 2022.

It comes as the combined authority say a seven-month time saving can be made if the station’s design and planning processes run concurrently instead of sequentially.

Mayor James Palmer says he wants to “challenge how vital infrastructure can be delivered”- by pressing for a date in advance of summer 2021.

Earlier this year, Mayor Palmer said he was frustrated by Network Rail’s “lack of ambition” on delivering the reopening of the station, saying the organisation was “too bureaucratic, inflexible and not working to the best interests of rail users”.

The scheme also suffered delays when project costs escalated from £1.5m to £2.5 m.

Mayor Palmer said today: “Soham is a growing town and needs a rail station now to better connect people to the rest of the county and beyond.

“This has been on the wish list for many years and people in Soham regularly ask me why it takes such a long time to deliver what is a simple piece of infrastructure.

“I know for Soham this station will give people better access to jobs, give young people better access to schools and further education and connect people with services and shopping in larger centres.”

The station was opened in September 1879 but was destroyed in June 1944, when a munitions train caught fire and blew up, killing two and damaging hundreds of buildings.

Although the line remained open, the station was closed to passengers in September 1965.

Train operator Greater Anglia has signalled its support for stopping trains at a reopened station.

Officers are now set to report back in September with more detail on how a range of transport projects across the combined authority area can be delivered more quickly, including Soham station.

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.”

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