Lib Dem railway plans described as steam and nonsense by commuters

File photo dated 19/05/11 of a train ticket, timetable and money. George Osborne will make a pitch to ordinary working people today when he delivers his penultimate Budget before the general election.  PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday March 19, 2014. See PA BUDGET stories. Photo credit should read: PA Wire PPP-140320-155307001
File photo dated 19/05/11 of a train ticket, timetable and money. George Osborne will make a pitch to ordinary working people today when he delivers his penultimate Budget before the general election. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday March 19, 2014. See PA BUDGET stories. Photo credit should read: PA Wire PPP-140320-155307001

A £1billion plan to make Milton Keynes the centre of a new ‘brain belt’ railway line - and to build five new towns along the route - have been rubbished by commuters.

This week Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg told his party conference that he wanted to extend the current Bedford-Bletchley line to run across the country from Oxford to Cambridge, and create up to five new garden cities along the route with

But commuter groups are unimpressed by the comments, and say that the plans are not based in reality.

Richard Crane, chairman of the Bedford to Bletchley Rail User Association (BBRUA) said: “It’s a headline for Mr Clegg, but really there’s no detail or reality to make it a story.

“The Bedford-Bletchley route used to run from Oxford to Cambridge, and there are plans progressing to extend it to Oxford again, but the line to Cambridge has been built over. Until someone comes up with a logical route to go east on the line then going on to Cambridge is just not possible.

“Bandying figures around like £1billion doesn’t achieve anything - in fact it has the opposite affect. We’re only looking at another 30 miles of track, so no government is going to spend that sort of money.

“Mr Clegg has also said that work won’t start until the deficit is cleared. Who knows when that will be?”

The rail scheme is part of a Lib Dem proposal to build 10 new garden cities across the UK, with possible sites along the route in Bicester, St Neots, Aylesbury and Great Cambourne.

But the BBRUA has been campaigning for the original Oxford-Bletchley line to be revived for the last 30 years, and are unconvinced that Mr Clegg can deliver a railway revival.

Mr Crane said: “Nobody is more committed to the future of this line than we are, but nothing will be achieved by headline-grabbing.

“The only way ahead is through hard work.”