Current investigations into the case for reopening the railway between March and Wisbech commenced in 2012.
Following on from the initial work (detailed below), on 29 July 2015, we published an Outline Business case and a GRIP 2 feasibility study These documents demonstrate a positive case for investment at this stage of scheme development.
For a preferred option of two trains an hour from Wisbech to Cambridge, the Outline Business Case and GRIP2 documents show a Benefit to Cost Ratio (BCR) of 2.27 to 1, representing high value for money. When wider economic benefits are taken into account, the BCR could rise to around 4.41.
However, without additional work in the Ely area, it is unlikely that this service pattern could be achieved. A fallback option of one train an hour to Cambridge and one train an hour to March would be possible without further work at Ely. This option has a BCR of 1.37 to 1 (representing low value for money), rising to 3.37 to 1 when wider economic benefits are taken into account.
The figures quoted above assume a Town Centre Station; they increase slightly for a station south of the A47 due to the reduction in costs due to the removal of the cost of providing a bridge for the A47 over the railway. However, a town centre station would provide a greater level of wider economic benefits for Wisbech.
Governance for Railway Investment Projects (GRIP) is Network Rail’s management and control process for delivering projects on the railway, and has eight stages. The GRIP 2 Feasibility stage has now been completed for the March to Wisbech reopening.
The GRIP 2 study looks at potential scheme costs in some detail. Including risk and optimism bias (a factor allowing for an inherent tendency for scheme costs to be underestimated at early stages of development), the cost of reopening the line between March and Wisbech is estimated to range between £70m and £111m. The costings from the GRIP 2 study informed the Outline Business Case.
The next stage of the project is for a GRIP 3 Option Selection study and a Full Business Case for the scheme to be developed.
Appendices for the GRIP 2 feasibility study
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A 3 stage study was carried out previously.
- Stage 1 investigated the potential patronage and revenue generated by rail services between March and Wisbech.
- Stage 2 considered the capital costs of reinstating the line and providing new stations and an outline assessment of the key benefits.
- Stage 3 looked into the wider economic benefits that a station would bring to Wisbech and the surrounding area.
Before the three stage study was carried out the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) published the report 'Connecting Communities Expanding Access to the Rail Network', which investigated the potential of reopening the March to Wisbech rail line along with a number of other potential re-openings