Hopes for new stations but campaign wants faster trains

New hope that two new railway stations will be built in Cambridgeshire follow Network Rail's plans to refurbish and upgrade the system.

A campaign has been under way for 15 years to build stations at Soham and the Cambridge Science Park.

Network Rail said it had worked hard to improve reliability and capacity and was now looking at "enhancement" through new services and facilities.

James Palmer, councillor for Soham North, said it was encouraging news.

Richard Schofield from Network Rail said plans for a station at the Cambridge Science Park was a definite scheme by the site's developer and would be implemented in the next two to three years.

"Soham is aspirational at this stage and depends on local authority and stakeholders who had an opportunity to make a business case for the stations.

"They need to find the money but this had been successful in the past and this was something that would make a real difference," he said.

Campaign group Railfuture said faster and more frequent services were needed as a priority.

Upgraded signalling

Speaking for the organisation Chris Burton said: "Services are better now than they have ever been.

"Passengers travel in the best coaches even though they are 30 years old and refurbished.

"People should be careful about asking for new trains because they could end up with electric multi-units or hybrids."

Hybrids use diesel power where there were no overhead electric cables so could be used across the network without having to change locomotives or crews.

This meant they were cheaper but did not have the luxury of inter-city train coaches, he said.

Network Rail said the network and services in the east of England were set to grow.

"Estimates show that during the busiest hour in the morning peak period, the number of passengers on the Great Eastern main line heading to Liverpool Street is set to increase by 49% by 2031, from 16,500 to 24,600," a statement said.

Dave Ward, managing director for Network Rail in the south east, said: "The plan we have set out will deliver real improvements to meet growing demand over the coming years and bring ageing parts of the network into the 21st Century.

"By 2019, we will have renewed miles of overhead power lines and upgraded signalling and key junctions."

Remodelling Ely North Junction will relieve a key bottle neck on the West Anglia main line enabling more cross country passengers and freight services, said Network Rail.

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