Reopening the railway line between Bourne End and High Wycombe will benefit local people, a councillor has insisted, amid pressure to justify spending £100,000 on a study into the possibility.

Ryemead councillor Marten Clarke asked Wycombe District Council’s planning chief, David Johncock, to explain why money should be spent on what he considered to be a national infrastructure project.

The long-running issue of reopening the line – which closed in 1970 - resurfaced last month, with councillors agreeing the spend £100,000 on a feasibility study.

The study will be funded through £50,000 of Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) money in 2017/18 and the same again in 2018/19.

However, at a WDC meeting on Monday, April 3, cllr Clarke said the money should be spent on bettering the district instead.

Addressing cllr Johncock, he said: “This money should be spent on the betterment of the local infrastructure to improve services for the majority of the district and not for the link between East West Rail and Crossrail, which is at least a regional, if not a national infrastructure matter.

“It is not without reason that CIL is an abbreviation for community infrastructure levy, not country infrastructure levy.”

Cllr Johncock hit back at the claims, saying he had “made it plain” that there would be a benefit to local people and said it would be “very short-sighted” not to explore the possibility of reopening the line.

He said: “Why would we not contribute something? If this actually went ahead, it would cost millions and millions to reinstate the railway and we do not have that sort of money, but we are expected to contribute in match funding to this kind of work and I don’t think that is unreasonable given that there is local benefit.

“Given improvements elsewhere on the network such as East West Rail, Crossrail and the proposed western rail access to Heathrow, responding to growth and demand for rail travel is really essential.

“Not only could the re-establishment of this proposed rail link benefit long-distance travellers, but could help locally with providing an alternative form of travel to the car.

“We know we suffer congestion on the roads in and around High Wycombe and we know we have to plan for considerable development within the district.”

Before the railway is potentially reopened, cllr Johncock said the council are working with Bucks County Council on creating a new walking and cycling route along the line and have allocated £150,000 of funding from section 106 agreements to the project.

He said: “The walking and cycling route is a shorter-term deliverable compared to the prospects of re-use for a railway line. In the event that a railway were to be reintroduced, I would anticipate that alternative provision for walking and cycling would be made, for example, alongside the railway line.

“The likely difference in timescales for the two projects mean both are worth considering and it is hoped that the reuse for walking and cycling will become possible in the short-term at least along part of the route.”