East Anglia Haverhill


“A big role for a Haverhill Railway” presentation (May 2024)

A set of presentation slides about the status of the reopening scheme can be downloaded here:
A big role for a Haverhill Railway Presentation
  • Reopening the railway – a brief history
  • The new report “A big role for a Haverhill Railway”
  • Tram-Train and Light Rail
  • What next?

“A big role for a Haverhill Railway” report published (April 2024)

For many years Railfuture East Anglia has promoted the restoration of the railway from Cambridge to Haverhill that would transform travel along the A1307 Corridor. Since the railway was closed in 1967, Haverhill has become a large town with a population approaching 30,000.

The A1307 Corridor now links major employment areas including the Cambridge Biomedical Campus with its hospitals and research, science parks at Babraham and Granta Park, housing in Linton and Haverhill and the large surrounding catchment area. Our rationale for a rail-based mass transit system along the Corridor was submitted to the Department for Transport’s “Restore Your Railway” team who assessed it as “a good case for future development”. It is now up to the local authorities to support the concept – through the Greater Cambridge Partnership or alternatively the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority or Sub-National Transport bodies.

We took this initial work to a next stage by commissioning a detailed study of the Corridor by Jonathan Roberts Consulting (JRC), a specialist in transport planning, as an add-on to our recently published wider study of the strategic development of the East Anglia rail network over the next thirty years and how it could better serve and become a core part of the growth and development of our sub-region. This we called “A New Geography for East Anglia”.

JRC has now concluded the A1307 Corridor report. We are delighted it backs our earlier high-level conclusions as it shows there is a strong case for the restoration of the railway, truly living up to its title, “A big role for a Haverhill Railway”.

The broad conclusions of the study are that the railway will serve large populations and support the local economy, linking Cambridge with Haverhill and serving principal stops at Cambridge South (Biomedical Campus), Granta Park, Linton, Haverhill Parkway and Haverhill Town Centre. The modelling shows that in addition to these places, the railway’s catchment area would cover 100 parishes, as far as Thaxted, Braintree, Halstead, Sudbury and towards Bury St. Edmunds. The total catchment area population would be between 90,000 and 165,000, i.e. three to six times more than Haverhill on its own. A further 12% population growth is estimated in the area up to 2041.

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.

To best serve the transport needs of the A1307 corridor, demand modelling shows that if the railway offers a quick journey and good frequency, then it will compete with off-peak car and be much faster than road at peak times. 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. The report has come at an opportune moment as the Spring Budget of March 2024 announced £10m of funding to support the development of future transport options to support Cambridge and the Biomedical Campus – it is vital some of this funding is used for an outline business case for a restored railway building on our work.

To coincide with the Budget, the government’s Cambridge Delivery Group also published “The Case for Cambridge”, which says “To deliver the step-change in capacity and connectivity this ambition requires, the government envisages a transport system made up of several elements, which may range from improved walking and cycling routes to mass transit system options, such as trams and light rail.”

Restoring the railway to Haverhill directly matches this vision, unlike the Greater Cambridge Partnership's proposed “Cambridge South-East Transport (CSET)” bus road linking the Biomedical Campus to a huge Park and Ride on the A11 – a plan which will increase car dependence, provides little help to Haverhill, slices right through green belt countryside, and has no place in a world moving towards sustainable travel. 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.

With the backing of this report, Railfuture East Anglia believes this is a perfect moment for Cambridge to grasp these opportunities and take the transformational rail reopening scheme forward. 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.

The report can be viewed here:
A big role for a Haverhill Railway
and the covering letter (reproduced above):
A big role for a Haverhill Railway covering letter

Tram-Train for Wisbech and Haverhill (March 2023)

Wisbech and Haverhill are the focus of Railfuture East Anglia reopening campaigns, regularly featuring in the branch’s column in Railwatch. With populations of 35,000 and 27,000 respectively, and village catchment areas adding thousands more, both towns are in a region of strong economic and population growth that is centred on Cambridge – but both lose out by having poor transport links into Cambridge.

The local authorities in Cambridgeshire have commissioned a series of studies looking into their reopening, and Network Rail’s Light Rail Team has recently linked the two projects, suggesting tram-train could be an ideal technology to use for the reopenings.

So, what Is the progress so far? What are tram-trains? Are they suited to these reopenings? And what is the way ahead?

Read more in this article from Railfuture’s National Magazine Railwatch


and this article published in Modern Railways "Tram-train potential in Cambridgeshire?

Restoring the Railway from Haverhill to Cambridge (October 2022)

In Spring 2021 Railfuture East Anglia submitted a bid to the Department for Transport (DfT) “Restoring Your Railway (RYR) Fund” to reconnect Haverhill to the national rail network. The DfT said the proposal was found "suitable for Restoring Your Railway funding in principle" and "a good case for future development"

Network Rail’s light-rail team noted that "this proposal has potential as a Tram-Train scheme, especially if the access to West Anglia Main Line (WAML) into Cambridge is required. A light rail solution would reduce capital infrastructure costs for the reinstatement to Haverhill. The development of a Tram-Train fleet in the area could also tie with other opportunities such as Wisbech."

In December 2021 a light rail assessment was made for the Wisbech line reopening proposal and this concluded that Tram-Train would be best for the reopening.

Railfuture are now promoting the idea of a Cambridgeshire wide Tram-Train system which would include the re-openings from March to Wisbech, and Shelford to Haverhill, with through services to Peterborough and Cambridge and light rail based extensions to new housing in Wisbech, and Haverhill, and potentially in Peterborough and Cambridge as well.

The two documents below give a more detailed background to this, the first being a presentation about the Tram-Train proposal www.railfuture.org.uk/east/docs/Railfuture-East-Anglia-Tram-Train-for-Wisbech-and-Haverhill-presentation.pdf and the second being the Railfuture bid to the DfT's Restoring Your Railway fund www.railfuture.org.uk/east/docs/Railfuture-East-Anglia-Haverhill-Restoring-Your-Railway-application-form.pdf

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority - Local Transport and Connectivity Plan Consultation (June 2022)

We need your help.

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA) is consulting over the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan (LTCP), so this is a vital chance to make sure the reopening of the railway from Haverhill to Cambridge is in the plan.

The reopening of the railway was recently assessed by the Department for Transport's Restoring Your Railway Team which concluded it was "a good case for future development".

Cambridgeshire County Council's Local Transport Plan, which is the precursor to the CPCA LTCP, included the aspiration of reopening the railway serving stations at Sawston, Granta Park, Linton and Haverhill.

However, the draft LTCP replaces this with the Greater Cambridge Partnership's unwanted Cambridge South East Transport scheme, which would link a 1,250 space Park and Ride via a busway to the Biomedical Campus through the green belt. The LTCP claims that this will "allow people to swap to sustainable transport" and " reduce car journeys, freeing up road capacity and improving the environment" although the provision of 1,250 car parking spaces would suggest the scheme will generate large amounts of road traffic.

Please could you therefore make it clear to the CPCA that the LTCP should instead be based on a reopened railway providing a fast, safe and sustainable public transport link along the whole transport corridor from Haverhill to Linton, Granta Park and through to the Biomedical Campus.

To do this go to this link:
...click on "Have Your Say"
For Haverhill the important step is to select "3. Local Area Strategies" then select "Greater Cambridge". You will need to fill in some of the other questions before submission - if these are of no interest just select "Not sure". You also need to enter your postcode but this doesn't have to be in Cambridgeshire to people living in Haverhill can respond.

At the end of the page there are two questions:
8.c. To what extent do you agree with the proposed transport strategy for Greater Cambridge?
8.c. Please write any other comments you may have

We suggest you answer "Strongly Disagree" to the first question and in the part where you can type comments state that for the Cambridge South East Transport corridor the railway to Haverhill should be reopened to provide a fast, safe and sustainable public transport link along the whole transport corridor from Haverhill to Linton, Granta Park and through to the Biomedical Campus at Cambridge South, Cambridge Central and Cambridge North. This should replace the LTCP's current proposal of a busway running through the green belt serving a 1,250 space Park and Ride.

To help, you can use the following points as inspiration for your reply:
● The reopening of the railway from Haverhill with a through service to Cambridge run as part of the National Rail network would bring transformational benefits to places along the whole corridor.
● The scheme would link jobs, healthcare, leisure and housing.
● It would encourage people to make their whole journey by public transport rather than driving to the CSET Park and Ride.

Thanks for your help making sure this transport corridor gets the reopened railway which it deserves.

We have a similar request for people supporting the reopening of the railway to Wisbech here:

Restoring the Railway from Haverhill to Cambridge (2022)

In Spring 2021 Railfuture East Anglia submitted a bid to the Department for Transport (DfT) “Restoring Your Railway (RYR) Fund” to reconnect Haverhill to the national rail network, sponsored by Matt Hancock MP for West Suffolk with the results being announced in the Autumn Budget Statement.

In a letter to the sponsoring MP Matt Hancock, the proposal was found "suitable for Restoring Your Railway funding in principle" and "a good case for future development" but disappointingly was turned down for funding in the third round of the Ideas Fund because of the number of other applications and the limited funding available. We have been advised that other sources of funding are available, including a “Levelling Up Fund” and the DfT team have been asked to "keep the scheme under review for a future point".

The summary of our bid noted that “The applicant presents a strong proposal, compelling narrative and clearly outlines significant wider benefits”. The summary of the bid also commented that “The proposal presents a strong case for change with clearly described wider socio-economic benefits. There are clear links to the newly approved development area in North-East Cambridge, centred around Cambridge North railway station, which has provision for 20,000 new jobs plus 8,000 new dwellings. The proposal also highlights that the transport links will provide improved access to the sixth forms. The proposal has clearly identified the links to local policies and strategy document”.

A problem the RYR team identified with the proposal was that “some stakeholders support the Cambridgeshire Autonomous Metro (CAM) - Haverhill is one of the terminating stops in CAM”.

However, since RYR fund decision was made earlier in the year the transport landscape has changed with the Cambridge Autonomous Metro no longer being planned following the election of a new Mayor. In the last few months we have seen an increasing interest in the idea of reopening the railway, unfortunately too late to influence the RYR bid, and putting the scheme in a strong position to be achieved using alternative sources of funding.

We will be working with local MPs and authorities and continue to drive forward this scheme which will transform Haverhill with fast high quality public transport links to jobs, healthcare and leisure in Cambridge alongside significant new housing planned for the town.

The scheme has the strong support of the people of Haverhill and district with 5000 signatures on Rail Haverhill's petition calling for the railway to be restored.

Reopening the Railway to Haverhill (March 2021)

The Department for Transport “Restoring Your Railway Fund”

A bid has been submitted to this fund to reconnect Haverhill to the national rail network.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is inviting MPs, local councils and community groups across England and Wales to propose how they could use funding to reinstate axed local services and restore closed stations.
This funding is split into 3 categories to ensure we can support different projects at different phases of development. The 3 categories are:
· the Ideas Fund – development funding for early-stage ideas to explore options to restore lost rail services connections to communities
· advanced proposals – support for lines and stations already being considered for restoration and for those identified as having further potential via the Ideas Fund application and assessment process
· proposals for new stations and the restoration of old station sites

The deadline for submissions to the Department of Transport (DfT) for a grant from the Ideas Fund was Friday March 5th. 2021 and we are pleased to inform you that we have today submitted a Bid to the DfT for a grant of 75% of costs, up to £50,000, to help fund transport and economic studies and create a business case for restoring the railway between Haverhill and Shelford with frequent through services to Cambridge South, Central and North stations. We envisage there will be new stations at Sawston, Linton, Granta Park, Haverhill and a journey time of 19 minutes from Haverhill to Cambridge South, 22 mins to Cambridge Central and 27 minutes to Cambridge North.

Haverhill’s MP, Rt Hon Matt Hancock, has long been a supporter of restoring a railway link to Haverhill and fully supports this Bid. Haverhill Town Council and Stapleford Parish Council support the Bid and Greater Anglia Train Operating Company has stated it would be pleased to operate the service if and when the railway is restored.

Not least this Bid has the support of the people of Haverhill and district with 5000 signatures on Rail Haverhill's petition calling for the railway to be restored.

GCP Cambridge to Haverhill Corridor viability report (April 2016)

The Greater Cambridge City Deal commissioned and recently published a Cambridge to Haverhill Corridor viability report giving an early estimate of the Benefit to Cost Ratio.

The Benefit to Coast Ratio (BCR) in the study is around half than needed to hit the figure of 2.0 needed for the scheme to be considered viable. However, the study only presents a very early analysis of the BCR and there are numerous reasons why it will substantially increase with further study. The analysis can be read here:

In summary:
  • The capital costs have been assumed to be around twice the cost per mile compared to other recent reopenings
  • The capital cost contains a very high figure of 60% for risk and contingency
  • The study assumes an expensive route to the centre of Haverhill; other lower cost options should be studied
  • Passenger growth has been assumed to be low with the figure for 15 years given as 15%, whereas rail travel to Cambridge has seen growth of 25% in the last 5 years alone
  • Haverhill’s population is expected to increase by over 30% by 2025 which again makes the study’s modest 15% increase look very pessimistic
  • The wider economic benefits have not yet been assessed. This typically adds an additional 15% of benefits
  • A figure of 28% for the modal share for rail into Cambridge could be pessimistic as Ely has a figure of 40%
  • Variations of the route could draw in additional passengers, for example a direct connection to the major employment centre at Hinxton Hall along with reduced journey times to Stansted and London (although at the cost of journey times to Cambridge)
  • There are a number of other rail schemes which are due to be delivered in the next 10 years, for example the East West Rail link from Cambridge to Oxford, which will magnify the benefits of the Haverhill scheme. A proposed new station at Addenbrooke’s will provide significant additional journey time benefits to rail passengers from a reopened Haverhill line

When the multitude of factors above are taken into account by further studies, the BCR will increase substantially and into the region above 2.0 which will allow this valuable scheme to go ahead and benefit Haverhill for generations into the future.

The viability study itself can be viewed here:

Railfuture East Anglia supports the aspiration to reopen the Railway from Haverhill to a junction at Shelford enabling a fast train service from Haverhill to Cambridge and Cambridge Science Park to operate, and is supporting the work of the Cambridge to Colchester Rail Project to achieve this:

A petition is being gathered to support this reopening in conjunction with Rail Haverhill. The petition is now opened and can be signed here:
Leaflets are being distributed to households along the route to help gather support.

The leaflet can be downloaded here:

Read the Cambridge News coverage here.

Request to the Cambridge City Deal Assembly to commission Rail Haverhill study (2014)

At the meeting of the Cambridge City Deal Assembly on 7th October 2015, the Assembly were asked by Rail Haverhill to support the commissioning of a study to assess the viability of a reopened railway to Haverhill.

Here is the text of the question:

"One focus of the Cambridge City Deal is reducing congestion on the A1307 corridor between Haverhill and Cambridge. This suffers from congestion particularly in Linton and also closer in to Cambridge.

Railfuture has analysed the 2011 census travel to work data and this shows that the majority of people heading along this corridor work in Cambridge and in the cluster of science parks to the south east of Cambridge including Granta Park, the Babraham Institute and the Genome Campus.
Although some road based improvements are proposed, it is the reinstatement of the railway which will provide the long term, high quality, permanent solution to the problem.
The population of Haverhill is predicted to reach 50000 in the medium future and the reinstated railway would soon be thriving as it serves not just Haverhill but all the main employment centres in Cambridge and south east Cambridge, benefitting from next year's opening of Cambridge North station by Cambridge Science Park, the future station at Addenbrooke's and the significant expansion of Granta Park.

Fortunately the trackbed of the railway is largely unobstructed making the reopening relatively straightforward. There is also a large amount of public and political support for the scheme, with over 2000 people already having signed the Rail Haverhill petition, mainly from Cambridgeshire and Suffolk. Assembly members please note, over 2000 residents of Cambridgeshire and Essex are speaking to you. There is considerable support for a railway from business too.
This long term goal is the clear solution but is beyond the individual funding levels provided by the City Deal tranche 1. This does not mean that the City Deal cannot help this scheme happen. The people of Haverhill through their support for the Railfuture and Rail Haverhill proposed reopening ask for the Cambridge City Deal to fund an initial feasibility study which will establish the prospects for rail on this corridor and enable a long term plan to be developed which will ultimately unlock the local, regional and national funding needed to make this happen."

Bringing the trains back to Haverhill (2014)

Railfuture presentation to public meeting in Haverhill

Peter Wakefield from Railfuture East Anglia presented the case for the reopening of the railway from Haverhill to Shelford for through services to Cambridge and Cambridge Science Park at a well attended public meeting in Haverhill organised by Rail Haverhill and The Cambridge to Colchester Rail Project. A straw poll at the meeting showed unanimous support for a railway now and none for a busway.

Transcript of the presentation:

What is the purpose of transport....??

Any proposal for new investment must have an economic purpose. So what would a new railway be for? So let us be clear!
It will help create jobs and help grow industry.
It will give choice to those already making a journey to existing jobs. It could improve their quality of life.
It should improve access to education and learning, so important in developing our future economy.
It would improve access to leisure activities that are an important part of the economy and quality of life.
Every improvement for the economy that supports our society supports us as individuals too.
Those without access to cars will enjoy a freedom and independence currently denied to them. Those with access to cars will have a high quality choice. This availability of choice will lead to other societal gains...fewer carbon emissions, less air pollution, fewer deaths and injuries on the road. Less congestion and wasted time.

What is the current need?
The A1307 is at over capacity at travel to/from work times. This has can be addressed by providing more road capacity and in some places this will be necessary. However, capacity at destinations such as Cambridge and Haverhill itself will be difficult to provide and in some cases impossible.

An alternative to road is also required and that can only be provided by a high quality railway reinstatement. A railway because of its ability to provide "volume and velocity" in a way no other mode can provide. Remember that the population of Haverhill is set to rise to nigh on 40000 in 15 years time. There will be new settlements as well as extensions to those existing en route to Cambridge. Cambridge will continue its journey to becoming a major core city.

The nature of the jobs being created in and around Cambridge is such that high-end skills are called for. These skills tend to be dispersed rather than concentrated and so good fast train services are needed to get the possessors of those skills to their work place. Many such people travel from London each day to Cambridge and Granta Park etc.. and Haverhill will need the railway NETWORK to get the people it need to work in its science parks.

So what will a railway provide for Haverhill......
Haverhill is just 15 railway miles to Shelford station on the Cambridge to Liverpool Street mainline then 2 miles to the site of the future Addenbrookes station, 1 1/4 more to Cambridge station, then 2 3/4 miles into the about to be built Cambridge Science Park station....21miles all told from Haverhill to Cambridge Science Park station. It is not a transcontinental railway!

It worth reflecting at this point how long the current peak journey times for those destinations are.
Buses are timetabled in the order of 20 to 30 mins from Cambridge station to the Science Park but in the peak can take 45 minutes to an hour. To get from Cambridge station to the Science Park in the peak ...a train will take 2 minutes. The bus journey from Haverhill to Cambridge takes over an hour even off peak, and over an hour and a half to the Science Park requiring a change of bus; it would be less than 25 mins by rail.

The new railway will be well positioned to provide a high quality service from the important centres on this corridor not only in the Cambridge direction to the three of the most important business hubs in the Cambridge region AND it will bring people fast to Granta Park, Abington, Linton and Haverhill in the opposite direction. There will be a two way flow to make the provision of such a high quality link financially viable.

It will also have the potential for the line to be linked into a reopened railway beyond Haverhill as a route into Essex/Suffolk ..it is just 16 miles further on to the existing railway at Sudbury. This is would make a direct railway route from Cambridge to Colchester...and would immensely improve the connectivity of Haverhill.

We believe it is essential that the route is reopened as a railway rather than being converted into a section of a Guided Busway. The Guided Busway is limited as it is impossible to provide a guideway along streets, thus congestion will remain in the urban core. The existing southern Guided Busway from Cambridge station to Addenbrookes cannot take double-decked buses owing to the very low underpass under Hills Road.
We emphasise that the railway exists from Shelford to the Science Park...an invaluable asset and Haverhill and places en route to Shelford Junction must stake their claim to a share of it.

Initial stations with supporting park and ride, must be planned for Haverhill, Linton and Abingdon (for Granta Park) and associated new housing.

Only a modern electrified railway is capable way of getting from Haverhill to the Science Park in Cambridge in about 20 /25 minutes. And, of course vice versa, to Granta Park and Haverhill. All at an acceptable cost.

The time has come for the people of Haverhill to determine what sort of future they want for their town.

Should they continue to live in the largest town in East Anglia without a rail service?
Do they wish to be forever at the mercy of movements in world oil prices and the price of road fuel?
Do they want to be a 'stranded community' with none of the mobility benefits that people in similar towns take for granted?

Or do they want to grasp this opportunity to claim their share in our nation’s economy.

Railfuture East Anglia’s response to Haverhill in the draft local transport plan (2014)

The Haverhill to Cambridge transport corridor is described starting on Page 5-12 of the local transport strategy:

The railway is well positioned to provide a high quality service from the important centres on this corridor not only in the Cambridge direction to three of the most important business hubs in the

Cambridge region, but also having the potential for line to be reopened beyond Haverhill as a route into Essex. We note that this route branches off the current rail network at Shelford some five miles to the south of Cambridge Science Park railway station, and that along this 5 miles are the increasingly important business hubs around Cambridge station, the Science Park station as well as the hub around Addenbrookes.

To leave all the options above open it is essential that route is reopened as a railway rather than being converted into a section of Guided Busway. Initial stations, also supporting park and ride, must be planned for Haverhill, Linton and Abingdon (for Granta Park).