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CAST.IRON - Stage 3 and beyond
Stage 3 would extend the CAST.IRON network to join the East Coast Main Line (ECML) at Huntingdon. The ECML is scheduled for upgrade; provision for CAST.IRON spurs can be made at the time of the upgrade. Spurs would be added for trains to run onto the main line northbound, southbound or both. Possible alignments for these spurs are shown in the figure below. In the case of the southbound spur, the route would pass under the current A14. A station could be sited either on Mill Common or along the edge of the station car park.
On completion of Stage 3, the CAST.IRON railway would become a part of the main national rail network. The northbound spur would be particularly relevant if the proposed Alconbury freight depot is built. Note that the spur takes freight trains from the CAST.IRON branch onto the ECML from the west side and thus avoids route conflicts between trains for Alconbury and trains on the main line.
If the CAST.IRON network becomes used for through freight workings, a triangular junction will be built at St Ives to avoid St Ives station.
Note that these spurs are viable as extensions to either of the Stage 2 routes discussed above. In the case of the A14 avoiding route, construction would be made more expensive by the need to build a new viaduct into the embankment of the A14.
A rail interchange has been proposed at Chesterton Junction for some years. The plans for operating the CAST.IRON network are not in any way dependent on this interchange being built. However, in the event that the interchange is built, the following scheme could be used to link it with with the CAST.IRON network.
CAST.IRON trains can be extended to the interchange, possibly on a northern curve as shown above. Passengers would then change between CAST.IRON services and other trains stopping at the interchange.
In parallel to the CAST.IRON extension, electric services from London could continue to run along the electrified spur to Milton Road, providing business travellers with the most convenient route to the Science Park.
Other Railway Traffic
As noted previously, whilst the CAST.IRON network will be operated as a self-contained railway system, an access track between CAST.IRON and the national rail network will be provided, for delivery of rolling stock and other materials. Special hand-over procedures will be defined for passing trains between the two operational domains.
By this means access can be provided for freight workings along the CAST.IRON network. For example the CAST.IRON line may be an environmentally attractive way to deliver building materials for the construction at Northstowe or of the new sections of A14. Given the level of congestion on the current A14, it is preferable not to load it with additional construction traffic for either of these projects.
Once the CAST.IRON system has become operational, it may also be appropriate to consider using the hand-over procedures between the two domains to run some through DMU services.
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Site last modified April 2021