The Institution of Highway & Transportation

Varsity rail reopening makes tracks

November 20 2013  

131120_Oxford_224Restoration of passenger rail services between Oxford and Cambridge has moved a step closer.

A consortium of seven councils has pledged £45M to upgrade and reopen a section of the former 'Varsity Line' between Oxford and Bedford, in a project known as 'East West Rail'.

Transport Minister Stephen Hammond was presented with a letter confirming the financial commitment from the chair of the East West Rail joint delivery board, Councillor Janet Blake, last week.

In July 2012 the Department for Transport announced its support for the project, but set the condition that local authorities must make a financial contribution to the scheme. Train services could return to the line by the end of 2017.

Mr Hammond said: "There is no doubt that East West Rail will bring many benefits for people living and working in the region. But this is also a scheme of national importance."

Economic assessment of reopening the 'Western' section of the railway from Bedford to Oxford could, it was said, generate 12,000 jobs and provide £38M of financial benefit a year.

Cambridge MP Julian Huppert said development of the Western section of the project was excellent news. But he added that "realising the full vision for East West Rail was the most exciting prospect", by providing a rail link from East Anglia, through Cambridgeshire and down into Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire

(Photo: East West Rail Consortium)

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