Latest Rail News

07.10.14

Clegg proposes reopening ‘Varsity’ route in full

The rail link between Oxford and Cambridge will be reopened in full, announced Nick Clegg at the Liberal Democrat party conference in Glasgow.

The line through the "brain-belt of Britain" will be built to serve five new garden cities, the Lib Dem leader said.

Under the plans, the ‘East West Rail’ scheme will be funded in full to connect Oxford and Cambridge for the first time since the 1960s. New stations along the line would be granted to up to five towns along it that agree to build between 9,000 and 15,000 homes.

The first ‘Western’ phase of the project is already going ahead, from Oxford to Bedford, but the more complex Bedford to Cambridge ‘Central’ stretch, estimated to cost up to £1bn, has seen the old track dismantled, the land sold, and parts of it are now covered by buildings.  This link would therefore involve a new stretch of track, and Clegg said work would only start once the structural budget deficit has been cleared in 2018.

The new rail link would reduce the journey time between Oxford and Cambridge from 2.5 hours to 60 minutes.

The announcement from Clegg is sure to please ‘East West Rail’ campaigners who, as RTM previously reported, have been campaigning for close to 20 years to have the old ‘Varsity’ route opened in full.

(Image: c. Danny Lawson/PA Wire)

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