Saturday, 27 August 2016

Comment: This railway between Oxford-Bedford and yes, Cambridge is of national as well as regional and local significance. These lines are needed now for the social, economic and environmental context now and in a theatre of increasing development and its wider impact of traffic and fumes. These are serious matters and as such Government should order that the work is done in a timely manner. 2018 Oxford-Bedford, 2025 Bedford - Cambridge (new construction). There's no time left for splitting hairs on routes, the Jacobs Consultancy has done that and found the traditional route is optimum, end of story.

Please write to your local MP and urge them to speak up for the railway. It is daft to suggest we need it to go through Bedford Midland if capacity at Bedford Midland is constrained already (Thameslink trains sit on through lines waiting to go to/from the sidings or back to London and Brighton), a busy East-West Rail will mean more trains wanting to access the fast lines. If Wixams and Twinwoods 'new towns' need rail access, Bedford, as the larger party needs it even more. Thus the inner route is required, St John's old station needs reopening, new straight twin tracks off Midand Main Line slows -St John's need to be installed, Bedford Midland platform interfaces need reconfiguration and some of these works could be done as separate and alongside East-West as for example installing a twin track bay on existing car park on the old Bedford Midland Station site, could serve Thameslink and East-West services and baying. Freight by rail needs a line side plan from day one of line born and nurtured flows, technical innovation and entrepreneurship. This opportunity is a one off, but given the widening of the A1 Black Cat Roundabout has not cut the queues onto and off the A421 and a high proportion is juggernaut lorries and that Milton Keynes and Northampton are regional logistical hubs, a strategy to grow more freight by rail is just the ticket to address the road impact costs and other considerations. Likewise the Covenanta Waste Centre, should be required from day one to be rail served, bringing in bulk waste by rail and taking the ash out likewise for redeployment. Regional recycling, renewables are both potential growth industries and only by bulk - which rail does well - can you justify outlay and recouperate costs, making it as near viable as possible and that 'possible' is whereby we take household rubbish and retrieve all recyclables fridges to cars, glass to paper. Forders Sidings is uniquely placed to do this and maybe a new landfill of one of the remaining pits could give a 15 year contract based around sustainable treatment with more recycling, recovery and composting for example than was the case. The GLC got the ideas started, but clearly mistakes were made. We can now build on that to more success, jobs and cleaner environment.

Sadly over the years there's been a tendency to be over bullish or not assertive enough. This means waves of gusto and then discrepancy. What we need to understand is that a calm, consistent push for the line, the whole line is required. We must have unity, making the case that whilst East-West Roads have and are being upgraded over the last 30 years including the Bedford Bypasses (!) congestion and volumes have grown and the absence of a rail link choice underpins and locks in the negatives around too much going by road and the land-use parking allocation pressures resulting.

This rail link links the main north-south radial lines and frees up capacity into London and out again, capacity for more seats, capacity for more trains of whatever description. Therefore it is a co-constituency matter and not just a parochial affair. Therefore I ask you whatever your political affiliation, to put partisan differences aside and support this rail link. 

Finally I attach our diagrams showing what we would like to see and welcome your support. If your area is not on our lines, you can consider what if any reopenings in your part could be done and how renewables, rail and recycling could do more and how we break log jams and start having some faith, vision and more of a level playing field between road and rail. It's no use pouring £billions into maintenance of existing tracks, if the net-work is inadequate. Scotland is blazing a trail, London has Crossrail, but the English Regions are lagging behind, beit local links like Oxbridge, Northampton-Bedford, reopening main lines like Great Central south of Leicester to Heathrow and the Guildford-Horsham-Shoreham-Brighton - in many cases the cases have been made, whereas HS2 is largely irrelevant to these wider issues and needs, let alone regions. Some have said that if HS2 had of gone via M11 - A14 corridor it would have linked HS1 from the Channel Tunnel-Chelmsford-Stansted-Cambridge-Lutterworth-Rugby-Birmingham and saved the blight and protractions with West London, Chilterns and enabled better links with the conventional rail networks with feeders like a new March-Spalding on the back of it. An opportunity missed because our Governing Authorities and Powers have taken a laissez-faire stancification, rather than phased incremental planning. Now we're in a pickle and East-West Rail could help lead the way out.

What we have to remember is that not everyone can afford or load to commute to London. Local lines enable smaller commutes, less costly commutes and contra-commuting which places like Milton Keynes draws significant numbers from West London for example. If we're going to prescribe work and take away benefits, then we need to ensure enough local, sustainable real paying jobs exist and the basis of operations is non-polluting as much as possible. Otherwise we overload the system and people suffer through no fault of their own or want of trying. Thank you.

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