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Concern grows in villages over East West Rail route debate

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Parishes who would be impacted by an East West Rail northern route fear they are being “chucked under the train”, a chairman has claimed.

East West Rail Company's proposals for the approach to Cambridge. Map: East West Rail Company (47199773)
East West Rail Company's proposals for the approach to Cambridge. Map: East West Rail Company (47199773)

Anger is building in villages north of the A428 who fear their concerns are not being listened to.

They fear they are being left out of the conversation while campaign groups including CamBedRailRoad and Cambridge Approaches call for a northern route to be properly assessed.

Speaking in a public meeting hosted by South Cambridgeshire MP Anthony Browne, chair of Elsworth Parish Council Peter Deer said: “I’ve just found out that one of the parishes to the north hasn’t even received the consultation document. So how on Earth we are expected to make responses within 10 weeks, properly consider matters and have the opportunity to come together like Cambridge Approaches and CBRR have is beyond me to be quite honest.

“I think politicians and EWR have refused to come and talk to us. I mean, this isn’t consultation.”

He continued: “We’re being chucked under the train – well that’s what it seems and a lot of us feel that is the case. There’s considerable anger beginning to grow north of the A428. I don’t think anyone is against the ability for the northern route to be given due consideration. I think what is lacking in all of this is any assessment of the impact north of the A428.”

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Deer also raised concerns about a station north of Cambourne and what it could mean for development in the area.

“I mean there’s been an awful lack of consultation and commentary about the change of preference for the location of Cambourne station,” he said.

Concerns have also been raised in Dry Drayton, Longstanton, Oakington and Madingley.

Speaking at the meeting, Stephen Moore, chair of Oakington Parish Council, said: “I do feel there’s been a lot of support and propaganda supporting a southern route.”

He cited the reasons set out by East West Rail in their rebuttal of a northern route.

A spokesperson for East West Rail said: “As part of the development of more detailed alignment options for the railway between Bedford and Cambridge, further work was undertaken to confirm whether the decision to approach Cambridge from the south remained sound. Our conclusion was that the inherent constraints and complexities meant that a northern approach continued to perform less well operationally, it is not as easy to construct, it will take longer to build – and will therefore be more expensive to build, it has lower transport user benefits, and it impacts more people, directly and indirectly, when compared to the southern approach.”

Mr Browne said: “Given the scale of the East West Rail project, it is right that all routes into Cambridge city are openly considered. That being said, I do understand the issues villagers would have around a potential northern route, including the planning, infrastructure, and housing implications.

“It is my duty to ensure their voice is also heard in this important local conversation.”

Read more:

Using diesel trains on East West Rail would be ‘ridiculous’ says South Cambridgeshire MP Anthony Browne

East West Rail Company responds over debate on northern approach into Cambridge, freight and technology

Why East West Rail Company says it is rejecting a northern route into Cambridge

East West Rail launches new consultation on route: Huge flyover proposed for South Cambridgeshire countryside

East West Rail would create ‘Great Wall of Cambridgeshire’

East West Rail: Why a northern approach via Northstowe should be considered

East West Rail: ‘People are frightened for their communities’

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