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Town councillors hear about progress on rail renewal

Thursday, 1st March 2012.

Haverhill Town Councillors agreed this week to be represented at any joint meeting which could be convened about the restoration of a railway to Cambridge.

The council received a presentation at its meeting on Monday night from the Sudbury to Cambridge Railway Renewal association, now renamed the Colchester to Cambridge Rail Project.

The project's chairman, the Rev Malcolm Hill from Sudbury, outlined its history since its foundation in the early 1990s, including the commission of a pre-feasibility study in 1999, which gave a very positive result, and the raising of a petition of over 12,000 signatures in 2000, and a market research study in 2004 which found 72 per cent of people would use the railway.

Mr Hill said: "This is not about going back to steam or anything sentimental like that. It is about something that would put a lot of money back into the economy locally and change the town completely."

He said the next stage would be to fund a full feasibility study, at a cost of about 25,000. This would be in two halves, a double track from the main line at Great Shelford to Haverhill and then a single track from Haverhill to Sudbury.

It would include stations at Sawston, Linton, Haverhill, Clare, Long Melford and Sudbury.

In current local plans, the only aspiration for improved travel from Haverhill to Cambridge is to extend the guided busway, but Mr Hill said a CXambridgeshire county cpouncillor they had spoken to recently said he wouldn't touch such a project with a bargepole after their experience with the current one in Cambridge.

Town councillors queried the viability of railway restoration and how it would be funded, but Cllr Bryan Hawes said he thought they were all in favour of a railway in Haverhill in general terms, although it involved a major finance issue.

Mr Hill said they hoped to get the MPs and local authorities to all come to a meeting. Haverhill's Mp Matthew Hancock was very supportive, he said, as was Tim Yeo, MP for South Suffolk.

Town mayor Cllr Maureen Byrne said: "My granddaughter wants a railway in Haverhill because when you consider the cost of car insurance and of fuel in the future, it makes sense, and it would, I am sure, encourage people to move here.

"However, we have to be realistic and this study needs to be done.

"But in the end we need our MPs to put massive pressure on the Government or it's not going to happen."

Members agreed the town council would be represented at any meeting of Mps and local authorities which could be organised by the group.

Haverhill Online News

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