Community groups and passengers in North Cambridgeshire could have more say over the design and operation of their local rail services, under plans announced by Rail Minister Claire Perry today (29 July 2015).
The government is consulting on plans to designate the 29-mile route between Peterborough and Ely - known as the Hereward line - as a community rail service. This would allow the community to design train services according to local needs, which in turn would help increase passenger numbers, improve connectivity to key destinations and ultimately boost the local economy.
Rail Minister Claire Perry said:
We know how important this line is to local communities in the rural Fenland area, and it’s right that passengers have a bigger say in shaping its future.
By designating the Hereward line as a community rail service, we can breathe new life into this route, ensure its long term future, and improve connections that will help grow the local economy.
If the plans go ahead, the train companies will continue to operate the service – which also calls at Whittlesea, March and Manea – with the support of the Hereward Community Rail Partnership. Infrastructure such as track and signalling would remain under the authority of Network Rail.
Community Rail Partnerships are made up of local councils, community groups and other volunteers, to decide how lines should be run. Research shows that Community Rail Partnerships are good value for money and support economic, social and environmental development in local areas.
Nineteen rail lines around the country have been designated as community lines since 2005, along with a further 20 as community rail services since 2005. These include the Wherry Lines services between Norwich, Yarmouth and Lowestoft, which were designated in February 2007, and the East Suffolk Lines between Ipswich, Felixstowe and Lowestoft, designated as community rail services in February 2015.
The 8-week consultation runs until midnight on Friday 25 September 2015.