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Private proposals for East-West rail

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Cambridge, England - February 21, 2012: A train is stopped in Cambridges train station, while people walk on the platforms.
Cambridge, England - February 21, 2012: A train is stopped in Cambridges train station, while people walk on the platforms.

The Government has announced a new rail organisation is to be set up to reopen the link between Cambridge and Oxford.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has announced the formation of East-West Rail – the first new integrated operation in decades that is separate to Network Rail.

East-West Rail will deliver the design, construction and operation of the missing link between Oxford and Cambridge – the Varsity line.

Mr Grayling said: “It would be no exaggeration to say that the railways of this country are crucial to its economic future.

“Without them our economy would grind to a halt.

“I also want to bring new skills into the challenge of upgrading our railways.

“I will begin by looking at the reopening of the link from Oxford to Cambridge, to support a range of opportunities including housing, science, technology and innovation.

“I am going to establish East-West Rail as a new and separate organisation, to accelerate the permissions needed to reopen the route, and to secure private sector involvement to design, build and operate the route as an integrated organisation.

“This East-West Rail will be established early in the new year and chaired by the former chief executive of Chiltern Rail, Rob Brighouse.

“It will provide a commuter route for the crucial centres on its path and will provide the transport spine for additional housing and business development in a corridor which is one of the Government’s priority areas for the future of our country.”

The planned western section of the new Oxford to Cambridge line could be opened by 2024.

Cambridge City Council’s deputy leader Kevin Price, who is also standing to be the Labour mayoral candidate, said: “We share the concerns of many, including unions, about the possible further fragmentation and creeping privatisation of the rail network by separating this scheme off from Network Rail and using solely the private sector to build and run it.

“We need a Government commitment to fund this line as there is no suggestion from the private sector that it is willing to. Rail investment is critical in all directions from Cambridge.”

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