Re-opening the 7.5-mile March to Wisbech line could cost over £100 million, according to the GRIP2 study produced by Mott McDonald for Cambridgeshire County Council and published on July 30.
The study includes analysis of six possible service options. The one giving the best business case is a twice-hourly (two trains per hour, tph) Wisbech-March-Ely-Cambridge service with a station in Wisbech town centre (Option 1, see panel). “There appear to be viable engineering and timetable options for the reinstatement of a passenger service to Wisbech,” the report concludes. “The range of cost is approximately £70m to £111m, including risk and optimism bias but excluding opportunity.” It is customary to add such allowances to costs at this stage, in line with Department for Transport guidance. Excluding risk and bias, the cost range is £41m-£65m.
The associated business case, published at the same time, says that Service Option 1 with the town centre station “generates a core benefit:cost ratio (BCR) of 2.27, improving to 2.87 when wider economic benefits and option/non-use values are considered”. These figures rise to 4.41 when wider economic impacts are included. A BCR of at least 2 is usually needed to attract DfT support.
N For much more on this story, read RAIL 782, published on September 2.