Soham rail station reopens 56 years after being closed in Beeching cuts

  • Watch a report by ITV News Anglia's Callum Fairhurst on the first train at Soham

While many were still in their beds and the sky was still black, a small Cambridgeshire town was welcoming the return of rail after more than 50 years.

The train arrived at 6.49am and was the first to make a stop in Soham since the mid 1960s.

The old station closed and was demolished in 1965 following the Beeching Report which advocated for a major re-organisation of the country's railway network.

The new station at Soham has a single platform and is unmanned. It cost £18.6m, which was funded by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

Among the first to board was was Joanne Bates from Soham, who felt a special connection to the station.

"My father used the train when he was younger and we really wanted to be part of the day. It’s so great for Soham and we’re excited to be among the first on board," she said.

Joanne Bates was among the first to board a train in Soham in 56 years. Credit: ITV Anglia

Also braving the early morning cold was a family who had stood outside the Co-op more than 20 years ago with a petition for the station to be reopened.

It took longer than Ruth Ginn had hoped but she and her family were glad to be part of history.

"It feels really great, we desperately needed a station as we didn't have a car. The three of us stood outside the co-op with our petition and we got loads and loads of signatures," she said.

Ruth Ginn (right) and her family campaigned 20 years ago for a new station at Soham Credit: ITV Anglia
The new station was finished five months ahead of schedule. Credit: ITV Anglia

The station has a single 99m platform and a stepped footbridge across the railway to connect to an existing public right of way.

It has been designed so that if a 2nd platform is built, it would be possible for a lift to be installed at the station.

  • Watch a time lapse video by Network Rail of the footbridge being installed.

Although Soham was without a train station for more than 50 years, rail has a huge significance in the town's history.

In 1944, a munitions train explosion killed two men.

A wagon full of bombs caught fire as the train was on its way to Essex. It was thought a spark from the engine caused the blaze.

Scene of the explosion at Soham, Cambridgeshire Credit: Soham Museum

In 2014, the town marked the 70th anniversary of the train explosion.

To commemorate the disaster a medal was donated to the local museum for a display about the explosion.