Disused railway in path of Northampton link road seven years in the making should be saved, says railway group

St James Residents Association, inset, have been campaigning to build the road link for seven years. But a railway group has raised an objection.
St James Residents Association, inset, have been campaigning to build the road link for seven years. But a railway group has raised an objection.

A railway group has objected to a long-awaited plan to ease congestion in St James because it would damage their hopes for a Northampton-Bedford train link.

After nearly seven years in development, proposals for the congestion-busting St James Mill Road link were submitted on March 2.

The plan has been on hold for years because the road, which would link the two ends of St James Mill Road, would rip up a short stretch of disused freight railway line.

But as soon as the proposals were opened for consultation, the English Regional Transport Association (ERTA) lodged an objection to protect the disused line.

Richard Pill, chairman of ERTA, said: “It will impinge in a detrimental way and make reopening the former Northampton-Bedford corridor much harder.

“The railway would enable a quicker transit between Northampton and Bedford, East-West Rail to Cambridge.

“The road seems to link two congestion hotspots with no way out of the current congested London Road artery.

“Cut traffic and nurture cycling, walking and better public transport options.”

After nearly seven years of discussion, the county council’s highways contractor, Kier WSP submitted the planning application to build the road.

Chairman of the St James Residents’ Association, Graham Croucher, has been campaigning for the link toad since 2011.

He said: “It is only a small part of an overall package of improvements we would like to see... but we are delighted for now.

“We will give this a cautious welcome after long years of campaigning for it.”

The road will reportedly allow pedestrians to get across town 10 minutes quicker and improve air quality in St James.