Conservative PPC backs CamBedRailRoad’s northern route option

Prospective parliamentary candidate for South Cambridgeshire Anthony Browne. Picture: South Cambridg

Prospective parliamentary candidate for South Cambridgeshire Anthony Browne. Picture: South Cambridgeshire Conservatives - Credit: Archant

The Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for South Cambridgeshire has written to the transport secretary backing CamBedRailRoad’s northern route option in the central section of the East West Rail Link.

The East West Rail Company has been considering proposals for the central section of the route, with 'C2-2' through Bassingbourn and other villages in our area, thought to be the preferred option.

The CBRR members came together after the Crow broke the story of the rail link and possible development of a new town in Bassingbourn in 2017, and have been championing a northern route along the A428 through Cambourne - which they say would be better suited as it would serve new developments.

In the letter to transport secretary Grant Shapps, Anthony Browne said: "Transport is a key issue across the UK, but in few areas is it more key than in South Cambridgeshire. Rapid growth and housing development have not been matched by transport improvements, which means congestion is now often paralysing."

Mr Browne goes on to say it's imperative the EWR line project takes the norther route and outline reasons including lack of commuting need at Bassingbourn and disruption to the area.

He also notes that the northern route is more costly, but is also more deliverable.

He concludes: "If you want to deliver a popular transport link, I strongly recommend you decide on the Cambourne option, and make it clear that is your preference."

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Mr Browne told the Crow: "People in Bassingbourn have said they don't want the stop for a whole host of reasons and people in Cambourne are keen on the stop there - it's quite unusual as it tends to be that everyone doesn't want the stop, but in Cambourne that's not the case.

"I realise there will be winners and losers whatever happens, but down in the the south of the area it's beautiful open countryside, there's no commuter demand for a route there with the numbers that would be travelling.

"There would also be huge house building at Bassingbourn Barracks causing disruption there.

"In Cambourne there's already a large number of people who are desperate for better transport links to Cambridge, and the East West Rail Link would be one way of doing that, and it's already a development corridor there along the A428.

"As well as writing the letter to Grant Shapps, I have also spoken to Number 10, the Department for Transport and the Treasury. The main issue is the treasury, because the northern route is more expensive.

"One of the things taken into account when planning the route is there would be a lot more protest and judicial action, and the northern route would face less opposition and would be easier to do as a result." When asked about what he thought of the CamBedRailRoad campaigners, Mr Browne said: "I think it's great people are getting involved, that's what local politics is about. It's really, really important that people make their views heard.

"Ultimately this decision will be made by national government. It will have to be agreed by the DfT, the Treasury, and the minister for housing, communities and local government.

"There's a lot of things that need to fall into place. A decision hasn't been made - it is supposed to be made this year, but the current political turmoil throws that into doubt.

"While everyone is so distracted by chaos at a national level, it's quite difficult to get a decision from multiple government departments."

Mr Browne worked with now Prime Minister Boris Johnson in his first term as mayor of London.

He said: "I was in charge of economic and business policy in London.

"A lot of the work I did there was on infrastructure, I helped catalyse various new projects. I started negotiations on the £750 million Northern Line extension, for example.

"I'm experienced in making infrastructure projects happen and I think that's one of the things I bring to the constituency.

"What is happening with Brexit is an extraordinary situation, people are sick of this and I think people want it over and done with as quickly as possible.

"Lots of things we should be dealing with we haven't been doing because of the turmoil at Westminster, like schools and transport.

"People want to get back to business as usual."