Cambridge-Bedford rail link options proposed

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Four options have been published for a rail link between Cambridge and Bedford to complete an east-west route.

Two options suggested by campaign group Railfuture use existing track to link Cambridge and Sandy, where a new section would go to Bedford.

Another proposes a completely new line from Cambridge to Bedford, along the route of the A428 road.

The fourth option uses what remains of the former Varsity Line track that was taken up in the 1960s.

Network Rail said passenger and freight demands had led to plans to reinstate the line between Oxford and Bedford and it was likely to be a reality by 2017.

100mph running speeds

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

Railfuture said jobs, business and contacts between the Oxford and Cambridge academic centres would be boosted by completion of the route.

Cambridge County Council is expected to comment later but has accepted public transport has a role to play in future economic development.

In developing the options, Railfuture said they have not considered routes where extensive tunnelling would be required.

The 10-page proposal document said the electrified railway would be designed "for main line running speeds [of] 100mph (160kph) or above."

It said the options should be considered by planning and transport authorities.

Cambridgeshire's cabinet member for growth and planning, said: "We are currently leading the work on looking at the business case for a rail line between Cambridge and Bedford which would have great benefits for residents along any potential route, which could include St Neots and the A428 corridor.

"Work is at the very early stages and we are working with partners across the eastern region to look at options that would connect most of East Anglia.

" Improving public transport links boosts the local economy and reduces congestion as well as reducing rural isolation."

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