Get on board with railway plans and fight for a new line to link Northampton and Cambridge, group tells councils

A transport group says there is an "unmissable" chance on the table to link Northampton to Cambridge by train - if both the county and borough councils will fight for it.

Sunday, 2nd February 2020, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 3rd February 2020, 8:51 am
Northampton could reopen a derelict line and link up with Cambridge via Bedford - if the borough and county councils get behind the plan.
Northampton could reopen a derelict line and link up with Cambridge via Bedford - if the borough and county councils get behind the plan.

Earlier this week, the Government announced how it wanted to link Cambridge to Bedford with a new railway line as part of the national 'East West Rail Line' plan.

The endgame of the plan is to create a direct line between Oxford and Cambridge and open up all the towns in-between to new jobs and business opportunities, with supporters calling it the "brain belt".

But a Northampton-based group says the town could also benefit from the plan - if the borough and county council fight to open a derelict line from Northampton to Bedford.

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The derelict Northampton-Bedford line leading out of the south of the town is shown here in red.

By reopening the line - the remains of which can still be seen running south of Northampton Railway Station - Northampton can join up with Bedford and use the proposed East West line.

Otherwise, any passengers who want to use the route would have to change at Bletchley and add on-average an hour to their journey.

Richard Pill, chairman of the Northampton-based English Rail Transport Association (ERTA) says it is a chance the two councils cannot afford to miss.

He said: "It's up to the council now to smell the coffee.

Currently, passengers who wanted to use the proposed East West rail would have to change at Bletchley.

"Northampton is a big place and is strategically located to take advantage of a new link to places like Cambridge.

"The borough council and the county council needs to find their voices and make sure Northampton is in the frame and included in the plans.

"At the very least, they could commission a study to see if reopening the railway line would be commercially viable."

Northampton Borough Council and Northamptonshire County Council both have representatives of the East West Rail Consortium, who are planning the build.

The ERTA have campaigned for years to make use of the derelict Northampton-Bedford line, and say it could otherwise be used to build a park-and-ride shuttle service in the town centre.The Cambridge-to-Bedford line proposed by the Government would go via St Neots and Cambourne. It would also require two new train stations in St Neots and Cambourne to be built.

The government will make a final decision on whether to take the project forward in the next few weeks, and if the plans are given the go ahead, the new line could be finished by the mid 2020s.