The new Progressive Alliance leadership of Milton Keynes Council have asked rail bosses to think again about a string of controversial proposals in the plans to reopen the Oxford to Cambridge rail line.
Cllr Jennifer Wilson-Marklew, Labour Progressive Alliance Cabinet Member for Climate Change, will be finalising the formal MK Council response to the rail link consultation on Tuesday 8th June.
The Council very strongly supports plans to re-open the line, but in papers published for the meeting Cllr Wilson-Marklew sets out where the council wants to change the mind of EWR rail bosses.
Cllr Wilson-Marklew and MK Council are leading calls to fully electrify the rail route between Oxford and Cambridge. Currently there are no proposals to run electric trains on the line and it will operate a diesel service when it opens, with a vague promise of “new technology at a later date.” MK Council are demanding the line is electrified from the start to help meet climate change targets.
The council response also criticises EWR plans to close level crossings at Fenny Stratford and Woburn Sands, and have asked for the current proposals to permanently close the level crossings in both areas to be reviewed, and while the council have indicated potential support for the principle of a by-pass around Woburn Sands to reduce levels of traffic passing over the level crossing at Newport Road, the council has asked East West rail bosses to do more work on the potential route and have indicated the council does not support the current proposed route due to traffic concerns.
The cabinet member will also say that the council position is to oppose the potential total closure and withdrawal of all services from Fenny Stratford station, which would be the result of only operating a fast service on the new line.
Cllr Jenny Wilson-Marklew, Labour Progressive Alliance Cabinet Member for Climate Change said: “We strongly support East-West rail, but we would like East-West Rail bosses to think again on some key issues for our communities.”
She continued: “The line needs to be electric and climate sustainable from the start. We have very little confidence in the “jam tomorrow,” promise about new technology in the future. We strongly oppose using diesel trains on the line.
We also want EWR to look again at the options around level crossings. It isn’t feasible to cut off communities or where the alternatives, such as a by-pass around Woburn Sands, are currently poorly thought through. They should think again and must do better.
We also strongly oppose the total closure of Fenny Stratford station as it is a bit short-sighted given the regeneration taking place in the Bletchley and Fenny area.”
She concluded: “While our support for East West Rail is strong, we need bosses to think again on these critical issues for our local communities and provide much stronger evidence on the options they proceed with.”