A £100,000 study on the possibility of reopening the railway line between Bourne End and High Wycombe will finally give residents a “definitive answer” on the long-running issue, councillors say.
Reopening the old line – which has been closed since 1970 - was once again raised at a cabinet meeting at Wycombe District Council on Monday night, with Cllr David Johncock announcing that money has been set aside for a new high-level feasibility study.
If the study – which will be funded through £50,000 of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) money in 2017/18 and the same again in 2018/19 - gives the new line the go-ahead, it is hoped that it will link Aylesbury with Maidenhead.
Cllr Julia Langley, who represents The Wooburns, said the study should finally lay the issue – which has been rumbling on for decades – “to rest” for the sake of residents near railway line.
She said: “This has been going around for a number of years now and I'm satisfied that I am hearing some constructive way forward. I just hope that once the feasibility study is done and if it is not a positive outcome, we owe it to the residents to be really honest with them.
“A lot of residents are concerned about their properties and what impact this may have on them, but at the same time, they realise that making travel backwards and forwards to work and business is equally important.
“But I think it has to be put to rest at some point in time.”
Council leader Katrina Wood agreed with cllr Langley, saying the study will “give us a definitive answer whichever way.”
The line closed in 1970 when more than 2,000 stations were shut down following a report by Dr Richard Beeching which recommended the closure of hundreds of branch lines.
Answering cllr Langley’s concerns, cllr Johncock agreed that the issue cannot keep going “forever and a day.”
He said: “The most recent studies have been looking at light railways which was ruled out and we are not proposing to do that again.
“We will be proposing to look at heavy rail – in other words, being able to link Aylesbury all the way through to Maidenhead and pick up with Crossrail.
“If that does not prove to be a viable option, then that will be it – we have to draw a line under it. We can’t, as you say, keep this going forever and a day. We need some certainty and that is what I hope the feasibility study will allow us to do.”