East West rail link will re-open

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COMMUTERS travelling between Bedford and Bletchley will soon be enjoying an improved service following news that the East-West rail link would be re-opened by 2017.

The announcement was made in Parliament today by Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt Hon Justine Greening MP, who detailed government plans that will see rail services improved along with electrification of Great Western, West Coast and Midland main lines.

The new rail line will help connect rail passengers in Milton Keynes with destinations in East Anglia, as well as Central, Southern and Western England.

The Western Section will link Milton Keynes and Bedford with Aylesbury, Oxford and Reading.

News of the multi-million pound development has delighted campaigners, some of whom have been fighting to re-open the line for 25 years.

Chris Wright, chairman of the Bucks and Oxon Rail Action Committee, said: “We are delighted and amazed. We have been campaigning for this and badgering various groups for so long but the hard work is not over yet.

“We will keep going until the first trains run and even when they do we will work to set up a user group.”

The electrification of the line between Bedford and Bletchley is also welcomed by Mr Wight.

He added: “The electrified routes will be better for the surrounding wildlife as they will be greener but they will also have a greater acceleration than other trains meaning a more efficient service.”

Mr Wight also thanked and paid tribute to the campaign’s many supporters over the years, giving a special mention to MP for Milton Keynes South, Iain Stewart.

He said: “We have had a lot of support for this campaign through the years but I’d say in the last seven Mr Stewart has really got involved.

“Since he got into Government two years ago it has really taken off and he has thrown his weight behind it. However, even five years before that he was heavily involved. He has done a grand job.”

Dr Ann Limb, chairman of South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP), said: “This is great news for the SEMLEP area. The Board of SEMLEP have committed £1m of its Growing Places Fund resources to enable this project to progress to 2014/15 when construction will now start. Improving east west links across the SEMLEP area is vital to enable growth in jobs and homes.”