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CAST.IRON delighted at reinstatement of railway track on St.Ives line

Date Issued: Tuesday 16th May 2006


In March a section of railway track on the disused Cambridge-St.Ives line outside the Cambridge Regional College was lifted to the alarm of a company trying to reopen the line.

Cambridgeshire County Council has been given Transport and Works Act powers to lift the railway track and convert the line into a concrete guided busway with raised kerbs. This scheme is not wanted by the local community, with 2,700 people formally objecting to the busway.

The Cambridge And St.Ives Railway Organisation (CAST.IRON), which has the support of 4,000 people, has the necessary funding in place to reopen the railway line for regular passenger services if, as it expects, the busway does not receive funding from government.

CAST.IRON Executive Jerry Alderson said "We regularly check the line to ensure that the council has not commenced lifting the track. It is vital for us that the existing rails are retained as we will operate works trains on them. We were alarmed to see a series of track panels missing."

He continued "CAST.IRON intends to purchase the line from Network Rail who still owns the line. I immediately contacted them to find out why the track had been lifted."

Network Rail explained that the track was removed so that National Grid/Transco could construct an under track crossing in order to begin gas main replacements within the area.

Mr Alderson continued: "We were assured that despite the county council having compulsory powers on the line, the track would be 'returned to a state of equal or better standing, acceptable to a Network Rail Inspector'. The fact that this was done in early May shows that Network Rail still consider the disused line an asset and proves their willingness to see the railway reopen if the busway is abandoned."

CAST.IRON executive Stephen Borrill, who is a director of a business on the nearby Cambridge Science Park, has photographed the line before and after the work was done. He said "The re-laid track and cleared area looks superb and is a clear demonstration of what the whole line could be like for a fraction of the cost of the CGB."


Notes

1. The county council has received fixed-price quotes for construction of the busway. On 4th April they submitted their bid for funding to the Department for Transport (DfT). The amount was not disclosed but is expected to be substantially higher than the £86m estimated in January 2004.

2. In July 2003 the cost of busway was £73m. In December 2003 the DfT conditionally offered £65m leaving an £8m gap. By January 2004 the estimate had grown by 18% - a funding gap of £21m. If as commentators predict the cost is now around £102m this would be a 40% increase. The DfT has refused to fund several public transport schemes where the cost has escalated. The MerseyTram scheme, which also had received Transport and Works Act powers, was cancelled when its cost rose by 40%.


Photographs

Photographs are available for publication by clicking on the links below.

Photographs are ©CAST.IRON Rail Ltd 2006 and should be cited as ©CAST.IRON Rail Ltd.

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