Home   Haverhill   News   Article

Subscribe Now

Restoration of Haverhill to Cambridge railway gains support from new Railfuture East Anglia study and MP Matt Hancock





A new report that presents a case for the restoration of a railway link between Haverhill and Cambridge has received the backing of MP Matt Hancock.

The MP for West Suffolk says restoring the railway link, which closed in 1967 as a result of the Beeching Report following more than a century in operation would “completely transform the area”, providing “fast, safe and sustainable public transport”, as well as creating “wonderful jobs and business opportunities”.

Speaking after the A1307 corridor report was published, the former Cabinet minister said: “I’m delighted but not surprised that this report is backing the reintroduction of a railway line to Haverhill.

Scores of towns and villages across the East Anglian region could benefit from the new train and tram service.Image: Railfuture East Anglia
Scores of towns and villages across the East Anglian region could benefit from the new train and tram service.Image: Railfuture East Anglia

“The population of the town has expanded significantly since the local railway station was closed.

“Restoring a railway link between Cambridge and Haverhill will undoubtedly transform the area.

“Not only would it provide fast, safe and sustainable public transport but it would also create a number of wonderful jobs and business opportunities too.

This diagram shows the line for the main proposal in the report.Image: Railfuture East Anglia
This diagram shows the line for the main proposal in the report.Image: Railfuture East Anglia

“I’ve long supported this project – it’s why I wrote to the transport minister and the mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority in 2022, asking for a feasibility study. The sooner we can get this link up and running, the better.”

The report by Jonathan Roberts Consulting (JRC), a specialist in transport planning, was commissioned by Railfuture East Anglia, which campaigns for a bigger and better railway.

It found there’s a strong case for the restoration of the Cambridge to Haverhill line.

The study concluded that the reintroduction of the railway line to Haverhill would benefit a catchment area of between 90,000 to 165,000 people – that’s at least three times larger than the population of Haverhill itself - and proposed the initial use of tram-train technology.

This map shows the possible stops and catchments on eastern sector of A1307 corridor.Picture: Railfuture East Anglia
This map shows the possible stops and catchments on eastern sector of A1307 corridor.Picture: Railfuture East Anglia

It also says “a further 12 per cent population growth is estimated in the area up to 2041”.

The study argues that a railway would reach a proposed Central Haverhill station directly and could serve intermediate populations via principal stops at Cambridge South (Biomedical Campus), Granta Park, Linton and Haverhill Parkway - a new stop that would be sited close to the Spirit of Enterprise roundabout, where the A1307 joins the Haverhill bypass.

It also suggests that rail heading via Linton and Parkway can serve more than100 parishes, as far as Thaxted, Braintree, Halstead, Sudbury and towards Bury St. Edmunds.

In a covering letter that accompanies the report, the secretary of Railfuture East Anglia, Paul Hollinghurst, said: “The study shows that the railway would attract very big passenger numbers, reflecting the already large passenger flows travelling by road along the A1307 Corridor.

“Potential rail passenger numbers are considerable, 2,000 and more per hour during the peak period.

“These are very significant numbers (a total of 36 carriages of passengers during the peak) and will strongly underpin a business case.

“Over time, such commuting could double, with Cambridge city car restraint policies, the stimulus of Cambridge North, Central and South stations, and increasing dormitory area populations.”

He went on to say: “A 21 minute journey time from Haverhill to Cambridge South could be achieved with a fast limited stop service serving Haverhill Parkway, Linton and Granta Park.

“For places further into Cambridge an additional interleaved inner service could serve places between Granta Park and Cambridge such as Babraham, Sawston and Stapleford.

“Tram-train technology could be the best initial operational standard as this would allow services to operate not only onto the main rail network to directly reach places such as Cambridge North, Waterbeach and a future station at Cambridge East, but could also link into a light rail system for Cambridge being promoted locally by Cambridge Connect.”

Mr Hollinghurst concluded: “Only a rail-based solution can provide the capacity to shift the numbers of people that this report demonstrates will need moving into the city with its future growth.

“We call on the various local and regional transport organisations to support the railway reopening by coming together to commission an outline business case as the next step.”

Railfuture also believes some of the £10m of funding announced in the Spring Budget to support the development of future transport options to support Cambridge and the Biomedical Campus could be used “for an outline business case for a restored railway building on our work”.