The TGRG are pleased to announce that the 2017 Undergraduate Dissertation Prize has been won by Philipa Bateman from the School of Geography, University of Nottingham. The title of her dissertation is Reconnecting the Capital of the Fens: a study of the proposed reopening of the Wisbech-March railway. Philipa will receive a selection of books to the value of £150 from Edward Elgar Publishing. We are very pleased to have the continued support from Edward Elgar for this prize.
Reconnecting the Capital of the Fens: a study of the proposed reopening of the Wisbech-March railway
By Philipa Bateman
This dissertation provides a critical ex-ante analysis of the proposed reopening of the Wisbech-March rail link in Fenland, Cambridgeshire, which would subsequently link the deprived town of Wisbech to the burgeoning city of Cambridge. An innovative blend of qualitative research methods is used, not only to gain an insight into the local perceptions of the rail link, and the political rationality, upon which the proposal is based, but also to address the scarcity of qualitative research in transport geography, which the literature appeals for.
Generally, this dissertation finds that the rail link would be a positive move for the town, and will help towards combatting income polarisation in Cambridgeshire. However, further considerations must be made, to ensure it will be socially equitable, and not cause further inequality, as it has been identified that this is very possible. In addition to this, the expert local knowledge, uncovered in this dissertation, has challenged several of the proposed economic and environmental benefits, which suggests the current analytical framework for transport infrastructure proposals is somewhat ineffectual. The politics surrounding the rail link, meanwhile, indicate that the social equity impact is not taking precedence in plans. Rather, this is being overlooked in comparison to other concerns, for example enabling Cambridge to prosper further, by providing a mobility fix to its housing shortage.
This dissertation will provide a useful tool for those involved in the planning process, and it contributes to the existing literature on ex-ante analyses. In light of the current standstill,which the proposal finds itself in, due to various reasons, this dissertation will provide some useful information for those involved in the planning process.