Hopes for new rail link

HOPES for a new east-west rail route linking Felixstowe and Ipswich with Swindon and the west country were revived today.It has emerged that the government could require developers to reinstate disused rail lines as a condition for large-scale housing developments.

HOPES for a new east-west rail route linking Felixstowe and Ipswich with Swindon and the west country were revived today.

It has emerged that the government could require developers to reinstate disused rail lines as a condition for large-scale housing developments.

The construction industry is believed to be offering a "roof tax" of £10,000 for each home they build close to the reopened lines.

Four disused lines across the country have been identified as having the greatest potential for such a scheme including the route between Cambridge and Oxford - seen as the “missing link” for the east/west proposal.

The cross-country scheme has been championed by a consortium of local authorities led by Ipswich council and also including Suffolk County Council.

Borough transport spokesman Paul West said: “Any proposal like this is something we would welcome wholeheartedly - and I'm sure that goes for the whole council.

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“The project seems to have been shunted into the sidings a bit over the last few years - but that is because of the funding issue. Everyone agrees it would be good to have an east-west rail link.

“If a new source of funding can be obtained, it would certainly be a welcome move for everyone concerned.

Restoring the Oxford to Cambridge line would halve the current journey time by rail between the two university cities. The work would be likely to cost more than £100 million.

New track would have to be laid between Cambridge and Bedford. Between Bedford and Oxford, the track remains in place but it would have to be improved - part of it is only currently used by freight trains.

Any reconstruction would be sponsored by the Department for Transport who would then advertise for a rail operator to run trains - although it could take several years before the link is completed.

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