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East West Rail takes new steps further east

A BUSINESS case for improving train services between Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich is to be developed by consultants on behalf of the East West Rail Consortium, as an addition to the plans for reopening the former Varsity Line between Oxford, Bedford and Cambridge.

Work to complete the section between Oxford and Bletchley is well under way. Trains already run on two sections of the route, between Oxford and Bicester and between Bletchley and Bedford.

The business case for east of Cambridge, known as the Eastern section of East West Rail, will be produced by consultants Steer. The East West Rail Consortium, whose members are local authorities, said the completed business case will be used to demonstrate to the Department for Transport the economic benefit of improving rail services east of Cambridge, including a new direct link between East Anglia and Oxford. Assuming that the business case is accepted by the DfT, the next step would be the development of a preferred rail infrastructure option.

Cllr Alexander Nicoll, the chair of the East West Rail Eastern Section Group and deputy cabinet member for transport on Suffolk County Council, said: ‘Building a new railway connection would transform connectivity and journey times across our region and with the rest of the country. This would bring huge benefits to passengers and businesses, driving economic growth and creating opportunities for housing and new jobs. It will also go a long way to get people out of their cars, providing a greener more sustainable transport system.’

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