Mayor James Palmer says Soham rail station public information events are ‘another big step forward’

PUBLISHED: 17:47 27 February 2019

Mayor James Palmer with, from left Suffolk County and East Cambridgeshire District Councillors Anna Bailey and Bill Hunt, and East Cambridgeshire District Councillor for Soham North Mark Goldsack at the information event on Tuesday.

Mayor James Palmer with, from left Suffolk County and East Cambridgeshire District Councillors Anna Bailey and Bill Hunt, and East Cambridgeshire District Councillor for Soham North Mark Goldsack at the information event on Tuesday.

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Around 550 people attended two information public information events on plans to build a £20 million rail station in Soham - which is on track for completion by spring 2021.

A busy public information event at the Ross Peers Sports Centre, Soham, on Tuesday. Picture NETWORK RAILA busy public information event at the Ross Peers Sports Centre, Soham, on Tuesday. Picture NETWORK RAIL

The sessions also featured information boards and pamphlets about the history of the former station, the background to the project, and progress so far. The public also looked at designs and 3D imagery of what the new station is likely to look like.

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mayor James Palmer, along with staff from the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and Network Rail, then took questions from members of the public at the event.

The scheme will include a single platform, footbridge, car park, station forecourt, drop-off point and ticket machines. The proposed platform would be 102 metres long, and there would be associated waiting shelters, lighting, a public address system and information screens.

Mayor James Palmer with, from left Suffolk County and East Cambridgeshire District Councillors Anna Bailey and Bill Hunt, and East Cambridgeshire District Councillor for Soham North Mark Goldsack at the information event on Tuesday.
Mayor James Palmer with, from left Suffolk County and East Cambridgeshire District Councillors Anna Bailey and Bill Hunt, and East Cambridgeshire District Councillor for Soham North Mark Goldsack at the information event on Tuesday.

There will also be a built-in allowance for a future second platform in advance of any double tracking of the line between Ely and Soham. It is currently a single track.

The station will be operated and managed by train operator Greater Anglia, and their current Ipswich to Peterborough service will serve the station. It is currently two-hourly, but Greater Anglia is to upgrade the service to hourly.

A spokesman for the Combined Authority said: “The project has been allocated funding needed to bring it to completion. At present, £3.2 million has been allocated to the delivery of the current phase.

Mayor James Palmer with, from left Suffolk County and East Cambridgeshire District Councillors Anna Bailey and Bill Hunt, and East Cambridgeshire District Councillor for Soham North Mark Goldsack at the information event on Tuesday.
Mayor James Palmer with, from left Suffolk County and East Cambridgeshire District Councillors Anna Bailey and Bill Hunt, and East Cambridgeshire District Councillor for Soham North Mark Goldsack at the information event on Tuesday.

“An additional £20 million has been allocated in the Combined Authority budget to deliver the station through to detailed design, construction and final handover.

“As part of the overall sum requested, around £7 million will be used to ringfence monies to upgrade the station to include a second platform.

“In Autumn 2019 a report is due to be put before the Combined Authority Board to approve the funding for the remaining phases of work, which includes construction and handover ready for use.

Mayor James Palmer with, from left Suffolk County and East Cambridgeshire District Councillors Anna Bailey and Bill Hunt, and East Cambridgeshire District Councillor for Soham North Mark Goldsack at the information event on Tuesday.
Mayor James Palmer with, from left Suffolk County and East Cambridgeshire District Councillors Anna Bailey and Bill Hunt, and East Cambridgeshire District Councillor for Soham North Mark Goldsack at the information event on Tuesday.

“Soham station is one of the Combined Authority’s priority projects and it has been finding ways to accelerate its completion before March 2022, the timescale under a conventional approach to delivery. Time savings have been identified which means the station can be delivered by summer 2021, with additional time efficiencies meaning it could be finished by Spring 2021.”

“The project will also support the delivery of 1,655 new homes in Soham by 2031 as well as supporting its economic growth and attracting further investment.

“It will better connect people to key employment areas including Ely, Bury St Edmunds and beyond. The station would also reduce pressure on the local road network, particularly the A142.

Of the public information events, which were held at the Ross Peers Sports Centre on Tuesday February 26 and Wednesday 27, Mayor James Palmer said: “There was a real buzz in the room.

“I think that is indicative of the fact that people are now drawing more confidence that this scheme is happening, it is a reality and it will be delivered.

“There were many useful and detailed questions from members of the public and they have been taken on board.

“There has been a considerable amount of effort to get to this stage, including close working with Network Rail, and this event represents another big step forward.

“Next month I will visit the site of the new station when Network Rail will be on site carrying out noise, vibration and light monitoring which will be needed ahead of the planning application being submitted.

“This project is one of the Combined Authority’s 12 priority schemes. It is in our new business plan and funding is allocated.

“My job now is to ensure that the momentum continues and the ambitious timetable for this long-awaited and much needed rail station does not slip.”

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