Wisbech-March line reopening cost increase to £200m

Midnight Sun

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Therefore an option of providing a frequent bus service (say every 15 minutes), all day (say 0600-midnight), with a long term commitment (say 10 years), non-stop March - Wisbech (as the train would be), possibly with electric buses. I’d guess that the bus could do it consistently in 25 minutes - yes longer than the train, but at least twice the frequency. .
Not possable on that road even, running nonstop take a average of 35 minuites even a car takes at least 30. The road is narrow weaves from side to side, has many sharp bends. The road surface is not level so gives a very rough ride at speed. The last mile and a half from Elm across the A47 roundabout into Wisbich can take 20 minuites or more, The bus does not stop anywhere after Elm other then the Bus Station.
 

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Spartacus

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And may I also ask what efforts at negotiating with the relevant bodies, NR are making to have those standards revised ?
I can see the headlines now: "Fat Cat rail bosses seek to cut safety by installing level crossings on the cheap"....

That'll be the end of that then.....
 

Midnight Sun

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A direct bus would take about 20 minutes to the centre of Wisbech (any station would likely be 10 minutes walk from the town centre) and be many millions cheaper than reinstating the train.
Not possable, even at 3am in the morning, Unless the bus driver has a death wish. People still have to get to the Bus station, Most people will not be either going and coming from the Town Centre, but from other parts of the town.
 

Midnight Sun

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But that’s my point. Of course people want a rail service (or more accurately, a better public transport service) when the current provision is so poor. But £200m is a lot of taxpayers money. So you must examine alternative ways of acheieving similar benefit, to be sure that the proposal (railway in this case) is the best option.
Alternative ways have been examined already. The report recommends ditching cheaper options for Wisbech to March such as a guided busway (£75m) or a train-tram (£152m). A busway shuttle was described as "poor value for money" and rail only was the best option as it has "a much more certain and lower risk delivery path".
 

55002

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Back in the day there used to be a daily freight from Wisbech to Deanside in Scotland conveying pet food if i remember correctly, whatever happened to that factory? Assume it’s long gone?
 

yorksrob

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I can see the headlines now: "Fat Cat rail bosses seek to cut safety by installing level crossings on the cheap"....

That'll be the end of that then.....
The problem is, as @DarloRich is fond of pointing out, NR are the experts on this and are the only people really qualified to push back on unnecessarily onerous standards, therefore if they won't do it, who will.

The public need to be taught that by pricing railways out of the market, all they end up with is people pushed onto much less safe modes of transport, which is what it all boils down to.
 

DarloRich

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Really, and may I ask whether you were required to rebuild the fabric of that listed building, i.e the walls and roof from scratch ?

Please tell me, I'm looking forward to finding out ?
Not entirely. The walls, structurally, were OK.

The roof had been practically destroyed by lead thieves and had massive holes in it. Firstly an emergency cover had to be erected to allow the building to dry. That took cranes and scaffolds and safety lines and heaters and dehumidifiers. The roof was then rebuilt to modern standards, using modern replacement materials that met with the approval of the local authority, the architects and the listing requirements, a lead replacement substance had to be found, approved and installed ( so the scum don't come back) it was insulated and the support timbers replaced where required. A couple needed to be replaced with steel due to the fact they were not suitable for modern structural support requirements and then hiden so they didn't stand out. Asbestos was removed. Accessing the roof required modern scaffold and safety equipment, welfare facilities, lifting equipment, lighting, safety lines etc etc.

The internal walls had to be stripped back to bare stone. That meant hacking off layers and layers of ancient painted plaster which uncovered more asbestos fibres, lead, arsenic and all kinds of nasties. That all had to go. Safely. That all still has to be replaced and will be a massive job requiring expensive heritage craftsmen who will restore the painted plasterwork to "as new" but using modern techniques and materials. Also many of the busts and ceiling roses have been damaged or broken beyond repair. They have to be replaced. They will not be molded in plaster and wire as they were but will be 3d printed. They will have to be affixed using modern scaffold and height access systems though.

While all this was going on the entire electrical system had to be stripped out and replaced because it got soaked and was not up to modern standards and while it would have been fine if the roof hadn't been removed by scum bags it wasn't for a restored building. The same was true with the gas system and the plumbing. It all had to come out and be replaced to meet modern standards. Mind you lead pipes are worth a fair bit for scrap which all helped the budget ;)

At the same time better security systems had to be installed inside the building, on the roof and in the grounds as part of the insurance work. That all needed to be fed with power and data and several items "hidden" in the fabric of the building meaning more work and more interaction with the listing officers.

Oh, also the floor was rotten in places because the water got in and damaged the flooring and the joists. They all had to be replaced to meet modern standards AND preserve the respect of the remains in the crypt.

So no we didn't have to rebuild the walls. We did/will have to rebuild/repair almost everything else. It might LOOK the same in the end but it isnt the same as it was nor was it rebuilt using the same standards and equipment used in the 18th century. I bet it needed fewer men and was cheaper back then to.

PS it isnt finished yet either.

PPS Not even looked at the organ yet. Christ knows what that will need.

And may I also ask what efforts at negotiating with the relevant bodies, NR are making to have those standards revised ?
write to them and ask them yourself. I doubt, however, the answer would suit your needs.
 

Midnight Sun

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Back in the day there used to be a daily freight from Wisbech to Deanside in Scotland conveying pet food if i remember correctly, whatever happened to that factory? Assume it’s long gone?
Siill there and double the size, the products now ship out by lorry.
 

Spartacus

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Not possable, even at 3am in the morning, Unless the bus driver has a death wish. People still have to get to the Bus station, Most people will not be either going and coming from the Town Centre, but from other parts of the town.
I'm thinking from March station to Wisbech, if you take the journey time from centre to centre centre then going by train won't take 12 minutes either. Add 10 minutes give or take at either end for walking (to allow for the vague nature of where Wisbech station's going to be), plus interchange times, as people rarely want to get to the station just as their train's about to leave, and we're looking at around a 40 minute journey time from centre to centre by train, which is what the current bus is timetabled to do it in with no subsidy.

I'd say the best option would be a better bus service and a high quality greenway cycle route, perfect country for it.
 
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yorksrob

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Not entirely. The walls, structurally, were OK.

The roof had been practically destroyed by lead thieves and had massive holes in it. Firstly an emergency cover had to be erected to allow the building to dry. That took cranes and scaffolds and safety lines and heaters and dehumidifiers. The roof was then rebuilt to modern standards, using modern replacement materials that met with the approval of the local authority, the architects and the listing requirements, a lead replacement substance had to be found, approved and installed ( so the scum don't come back) it was insulated and the support timbers replaced where required. A couple needed to be replaced with steel due to the fact they were not suitable for modern structural support requirements and then hiden so they didn't stand out. Asbestos was removed. Accessing the roof required modern scaffold and safety equipment, welfare facilities, lifting equipment, lighting, safety lines etc etc.

The internal walls had to be stripped back to bare stone. That meant hacking off layers and layers of ancient painted plaster which uncovered more asbestos fibres, lead, arsenic and all kinds of nasties. That all had to go. Safely. That all still has to be replaced and will be a massive job requiring expensive heritage craftsmen who will restore the painted plasterwork to "as new" but using modern techniques and materials. Also many of the busts and ceiling roses have been damaged or broken beyond repair. They have to be replaced. They will not be molded in plaster and wire as they were but will be 3d printed. They will have to be affixed using modern scaffold and height access systems though.

While all this was going on the entire electrical system had to be stripped out and replaced because it got soaked and was not up to modern standards and while it would have been fine if the roof hadn't been removed by scum bags it wasn't for a restored building. The same was true with the gas system and the plumbing. It all had to come out and be replaced to meet modern standards. Mind you lead pipes are worth a fair bit for scrap which all helped the budget ;)

At the same time better security systems had to be installed inside the building, on the roof and in the grounds as part of the insurance work. That all needed to be fed with power and data and several items "hidden" in the fabric of the building meaning more work and more interaction with the listing officers.

Oh, also the floor was rotten in places because the water got in and damaged the flooring and the joists. They all had to be replaced to meet modern standards AND preserve the respect of the remains in the crypt.

So no we didn't have to rebuild the walls. We did/will have to rebuild/repair almost everything else. It might LOOK the same in the end but it isnt the same as it was nor was it rebuilt using the same standards and equipment used in the 18th century. I bet it needed fewer men and was cheaper back then to.

PS it isnt finished yet either.

PPS Not even looked at the organ yet. Christ knows what that will need.



write to them and ask them yourself. I doubt, however, the answer would suit your needs.
So indeed, the walls were structurally ok and could be reused.

What you are describing is the equivalent of reopening the railway route including bridges, structures level crossings etc as is.

The rest of the works that you cite would be nearer to renewing those structures into good order, like for like. They would be the equivalent to replacing a gated level crossing with a CCTV controlled electronic one, not replacing it with a bridge.

You're telling me to write to get the standards changed at the same time as saying I don't know what I'm talking about.

OK then, you're the professionals - you're paid to know about this stuff, you (NR) do the lobbying.
 

Maltazer

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I'd say the best option would be a better bus service and a high quality greenway cycle route, perfect country for it.
But that ignores the fact that people generally don't like bus travel. Buses are usually cramped, slow and uncomfortable. The train option also offers a through service to Ely and Cambridge. Improve the frequency and operating hours of your bus service all you like - most people will continue to drive.

And cycle routes, while nice to have, really only cater for a small minority.
 

Midnight Sun

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I'm thinking from March station to Wisbech, if you take the journey time from centre to centre centre then going by train won't take 12 minutes either. Add 10 minutes give or take at either end for walking (to allow for the vague nature of where Wisbech station's going to be), plus interchange times, as people rarely want to get to the station just as their train's about to leave, and we're looking at around a 40 minute journey time from centre to centre by train, which is what the current bus is timetabled to do it in with no subsidy.

I'd say the best option would be a better bus service and a high quality greenway cycle route, perfect country for it.
People rarely want to get to the bus station just as their bus about to leave, Plus you have to allow time to get to the bus station, not the bus does not stop anywhere in Wisbich, So you are talking more then a hour for the rough riding bus (It is a very rough ride on that route.)
 

eastdyke

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Worth noting at £200m for 7 miles, HS2 would have cost £9.6bn.
This is a branch line with no tunnels on an existing formation that carried trains not that long ago.
The lack of tunnels is more than made up for (on an engineering challenge basis) by a surfeit of water :)
As I recall the original GRIP 2 came up with options in the range £70-£110 million. Some assumptions were made concerning continued use of level crossings.

As expected Network Rail now also need funds towards Ely North Junction 'improvements' and level crossing works.

When I looked at some of the Wisbech detail I concluded that the re-opening was only remotely likely with development of the Wisbech Garden Project for 10-12,000 new homes. That aspiration seems to have gone rather quiet.
When I looked in more detail at where those new homes would go I further concluded that purveyors of wellington boots would do very well and lost interest :(

With the recent and ongoing experiences of flooding I think that there are many better places to consider building new homes.
 

Midnight Sun

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But that ignores the fact that people generally don't like bus travel. Buses are usually cramped, slow and uncomfortable. The train option also offers a through service to Ely and Cambridge. Improve the frequency and operating hours of your bus service all you like - most people will continue to drive.
.
The buses used on this route are nacked and are very uncomfortable. If the bus does not run, more so if it is the last one, it's two fingers from Stagecoach, your on your own. Unlike the train where onward transport will be provided plus delay repay. You don't get this from a bus.
 

Midnight Sun

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The lack of tunnels is more than made up for (on an engineering challenge basis) by a surfeit of water :)

With the recent and ongoing experiences of flooding I think that there are many better places to consider building new homes.
Flooding has not be a problem round here, The Middle Level do a very good job with water management. As for Welney Washes they are designed to flood as part of the water control system.
 

Spartacus

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You want a train and everything else is wrong, so everything will be done to reach that conclusion, we get it.
 

Maltazer

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Does Wisbech-March even make most sense? The fact that some (unusable) track is already there, seems to have made that the only option.

But there used to be another route from Wisbech that joined the Ely-Kings Lynn line at Watlington. Maybe it would be cheaper to reinstate that (with fewer crossings), still providing through services to Ely/Cambridge but also to Kings Lynn.

The assumption is that a fast service to Cambridge will open up job opportunities and regenerate a left behind part of the fens, but is that where the locals want to go?
 

ivanhoe

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But that ignores the fact that people generally don't like bus travel. Buses are usually cramped, slow and uncomfortable. The train option also offers a through service to Ely and Cambridge. Improve the frequency and operating hours of your bus service all you like - most people will continue to drive.

And cycle routes, while nice to have, really only cater for a small minority.
Thing is, where do the people of Wisbech travel to the most? It has an excellent bus service east and west and March is one an hour. Would the locals prefer better roads in the Fens(although I’m aware the cost of building roads in the Fens is not cheap) rather than a railway line that may take them to March or Ely ? I know the cost of housing is prohibitive in Cambridge, but would this line lead to an influx in new housing developments? I doubt that ! £200m is a shed load of money for such a short branch-line. I’m not even sure that Wisbech folk would appreciate such sums spent on infrastructure that will at best give them 1 train an hour to March with the odd one going to ELY and/or Cambridge.
 

DarloRich

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What you are describing is the equivalent of reopening the railway route including bridges, structures level crossings etc as is.
I disagree - In my view the building was closed. To reopen it required a rebuild to modern standards. That seems very similar to reopening a closed (practically) railway line. It isnt in use. To use it you must rebuild to modern standards. While we can debate the appropriateness of the modern standard, if we want to run trains we have to meet that standard.

You describe a situation where the roof was leaking but the building was still in use. To continue in use the roof would need to be fixed. You wouldn't tear the whole roof off to fix one leak. In fact I would go further. You are saying, essentially, that a pig sty should be used, immediately, as a home on the basis that because it was ok for pigs it will be ok for humans and that if any remedial work is needed it should be done to pig sty standards of 1837 not human standards of 2020.

Essentially we had to scrape the building back to the basic structure and rebuild. Exactly what you would have to do with a closed railway line. Yes the walls (formation) were ok but the rest of it had to be replaced and had to be replaced to modern standards.
 

eastdyke

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Flooding has not be a problem round here, The Middle Level do a very good job with water management. As for Welney Washes they are designed to flood as part of the water control system.
And a very good job they do at Land Drainage.
You cannot get away from the fact though that much of Wisbech and most of its environs are less than 10 feet above sea level!
 
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Midnight Sun

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You want a train and everything else is wrong, so everything will be done to reach that conclusion, we get it.
You like buses, We know that. You don't like counter view thats it. . The bus service may be timetabled for 40 minuites, but often take 50 to 60 minuites or not even turn up at all. Which is often the case with the last bus. Having to leave a hour early to insure that I get there on time, In a effect makes it a hour and 40 minuites for seven miles from March station to Wisbich Bus station. I can get to Kings Cross from March in less time.

No need for one of Sustrans deathways, As you can get from March to Wisbich along back lanes all the way. And at this time of year it is very windy most of the time in the Fens blowing from the south west.

And the conclusion of the council report was for the rail option.
 

yorksrob

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I disagree - In my view the building was closed. To reopen it required a rebuild to modern standards. That seems very similar to reopening a closed (practically) railway line. It isnt in use. To use it you must rebuild to modern standards. While we can debate the appropriateness of the modern standard, if we want to run trains we have to meet that standard.

You describe a situation where the roof was leaking but the building was still in use. To continue in use the roof would need to be fixed. You wouldn't tear the whole roof off to fix one leak. In fact I would go further. You are saying, essentially, that a pig sty should be used, immediately, as a home on the basis that because it was ok for pigs it will be ok for humans and that if any remedial work is needed it should be done to pig sty standards of 1837 not human standards of 2020.

Essentially we had to scrape the building back to the basic structure and rebuild. Exactly what you would have to do with a closed railway line. Yes the walls (formation) were ok but the rest of it had to be replaced and had to be replaced to modern standards.
I would consider the level crossing to be part of the basic structure of a line, but perhaps we have taken this metaphor as far as possible.
 

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A gentle reminder that we do ask that you treat each other with respect. There were some posts earlier in the thread where that sadly wasn't quite the case. Which is a shame as recently the discussion has been very interesting and respectful again! Please do try and ensure that your posts keep the Forum Rules in mind. I can appreciate that sometimes other posters can be frustrating for a variety of reasons but we do ask that you are always respectful.

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Midnight Sun

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Does Wisbech-March even make most sense? The fact that some (unusable) track is already there, seems to have made that the only option.

But there used to be another route from Wisbech that joined the Ely-Kings Lynn line at Watlington. Maybe it would be cheaper to reinstate that (with fewer crossings), still providing through services to Ely/Cambridge but also to Kings Lynn.

The assumption is that a fast service to Cambridge will open up job opportunities and regenerate a left behind part of the fens, but is that where the locals want to go?
Most of the route to Watlington has either been built on or plough over, plus would need two major river bridges.

Cambridge is where the well paid jobs are. And many locals have complained about the poor links south.
 

Carlisle

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Replacing the level crossings with bridges must account for a significant portion of the costs?
When did it become necessary for all rail re openings to have zero level crossings ?, considering the Stirling -Alloa line reopened just over a decade ago has them .
 
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trebor79

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Most of the route to Watlington has either been built on or plough over, plus would need two major river bridges.

Cambridge is where the well paid jobs are. And many locals have complained about the poor links south.
It might still be cheaper to build to Watlington. The land is fairly flat so diverting around development shouldn't be too difficult. And you might be able to run a better service without depending upon Ely North improvement by either diverting some of the King's Lynn services to Wisbech, or splitting them at Watlington (once the power upgrade project to allow longer trains is completed).
 

trebor79

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Perhaps the standard required for new railway lines is over the top and needs revisiting?
There's been lots of noise about the Great Western electrification costs going way over budget, in part because of new modern standards over minimum clearances for the centenary. But the old standards are demonstrably perfectly safe.
Whilst I can understand reticence to install new AHBs, surely fully gated crossings with CCTV or obstacle detection eliminate most of the risk associated with level crossings?

I'm sure there's a wider debate to be had within the industry about whether the standards for new lines are appropriate, especially for relatively low frequency low speed line such as this.
I agree entirely. However, until that standard is changed railways must be costed and built to the existing standard. Whining that costs money is pointless and something i have no time for. That it is the difference between the real world and the fantasy world.
So is there any appetite within the industry to constructively challenge those standards? As someone has pointed out, in some cases they are effectively ensuring people continue to use less safe and more polluting forms of transport, so are sort of self defeating in a way.
 

Edders23

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Replacing the level crossings with bridges must account for a significant portion of the costs?

only one crossing is across a road of any significance (the A47) and due to planned commercial development beyond that road the line would now have to stop short of there so why would they need bridges ?
 

Maltazer

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only one crossing is across a road of any significance (the A47) and due to planned commercial development beyond that road the line would now have to stop short of there so why would they need bridges ?
Because if it stops at the A47, the station will be too far from the town centre and no-one will use it.
 

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