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Press Release 11th December 2003
Alconbury development "makes a nonsense of the guided bus"
CAST.IRON chairman Tim Phillips today called on Cambridgeshire County Council to finally abandon the guided bus scheme from Huntingdon to Cambridge now that the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has approved the Alconbury Road/Rail distribution terminal.
"It would be nothing short of criminal vandalism to sever the rail route, which could be making a serious contribution to reducing lorry journeys on the A14 within a few years", said Mr Phillips. "It exposes the guided bus for the nonsense that it is - a parochial 'Little England' attempt to patch up a hole in the regional, national and international rail network."
Mr Phillips claims there are compelling technical reasons for reserving the rail route for this particular purpose, quite apart from the massive passenger potential.
"The Alconbury terminal is to be built to the west of the East Coast Main Line (ECML) between Huntingdon and Peterborough and north of the potential junction with CAST.IRON metals in the area of Huntingdon station. In addition, the recent decision to divert the A14 further south releases the existing A14 alignment for de-trunking and non-road use, allowing the CAST.IRON route to fly over the ECML and avoid junction capacity problems 'on the level'. Finally, the ECML is scheduled for upgrade, which will inevitably involve increasing capacity between Huntingdon and Peterborough. This is a golden opportunity and must not be missed".
The only alternative routes for rail freight to Alconbury from the east are by travelling north to Peterborough (where there are already capacity problems) and reversing or south all the way to the North London Line, where capacity is also at a premium since the Felixstowe upgrade.
The Alconbury development postdates the CHUMMS study terms of reference.
"Without the CAST.IRON route, Alconbury freight movements to and from the East Coast ports will be discouraged by difficult routing", said Mr Phillips, "and that will lead to pressure to carry more goods by road and therefore more lorries on the A14, not less. The County Council needs to wake up and realise what is happening in its own back yard".
CAST.IRON's costed plans for the reinstatement of rail services from Cambridge to Huntingdon, including connection to the ECML, are detailed on their website at www.castiron.org.uk/VisionDoc.php
END OF PRESS RELEASE
EDITORS' NOTES ABOUT THIS PRESS RELEASE
Alconbury Airfield is based on transport. As far back as the times of Caesar,
the site sat beside the Roman road known as Ermine Street. Today, it remains
close to the United Kingdom's major North-South thoroughfare, now known as the
A1, and to the East-West artery, the A14. Alconbury is also close to the
major East Coast Mainline railway linking London and Scotland.
Alconbury Developments Ltd's plans an emphasis on rail freight which they
say, can play a major role in delivering a sustainable distribution network for
CAST.IRON was formed on 2 August 2003 in Histon, Cambridge.
CAST.IRON will restore regular timetabled rail services to the dormant Cambridge to St. Ives railway line, creating Britain's first community commuter railway.
A train last traversed The Cambridge to St Ives Railway Line in 1992. Up to Fen Drayton, the rails are still in place and subject to bringing the railway line up to
modern operating standards, a rail service could begin in just two years.
The response to CAST.IRON so far has been 100% in favour of the rail option.
Details and full costings of CAST.IRON's plans were made public for the first time at a public meeting on 2nd December at the Holiday Inn, Impington, Cambridge and are now available on by visiting www.castiron.org.uk/VisionDoc.php
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