England

Rail link 'should extend to Cambridge'

Plans by Network Rail to reopen the link between Oxford and Bedford do not go far enough, campaigners say.

Railfuture wants to see the line opened up as far as Cambridge.

The campaign group said jobs, business and improved contacts between academic centres would benefit by extending the line.

The extra 10 miles would call for new tracks, from Sandy in Bedfordshire. The line will be electrified to take trains at up to 100mph (160kph).

Passenger demands

Jobs, business and improved contacts between academic centres would benefit by extending the line to Cambridge, Railfuture said.

Jon Crampton, of Network Rail, said passenger and freight demands had led to the reinstatement of the line and it was likely to be a reality soon.

The East West Rail Consortium welcomed the 10 miles of track and upgrades on almost nine miles of railway. It will link in the lines from Aylesbury and enable new services on the Great Western, West Coast and Midland Main Line routes.

The plan is to have the link operational by 2017 with one train per hour from Reading to Oxford and Bedford, with the Oxford to Bedford stretch taking 60 minutes.

There would still be a wait for a wait for a direct link to Cambridge, as much of the old track disappeared.

Phil Marsh, of The Railway Magazine, said the newly-restored rail service could take 1m car journeys off the road annually.

He said: "That would be a good thing. Local economies along the line would also benefit."

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