The Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough James Palmer has said that a train station at Cambridge South must be delivered locally, with very little chance of it arriving by 2027 as part of the Government’s East West Rail plans.
A new station at Cambridge South is urgently needed due to current transport pressure into the area, especially at the growing Biomedical Campus where Addenbrooke’s Hospital is located. There are currently an estimated 26,500 visits to the campus every day from patients, staff, academics, scientists and visitors, with future growth set to increase this number.
The expected growth over the next ten years and the strategic significance of businesses and research institutions based at the Campus, both locally and nationally, should focus minds on getting a station built quickly, according to Mayor Palmer.
The East-West Rail project, which will link the city with Oxford and Milton Keynes is not currently forecast to reach Cambridge until 2027. Plans are also not yet final, with no timetabling confirmed or a chosen route into Cambridge established.
Mayor Palmer believes even 2027 is very optimistic and efforts must focus on getting a station completed by 2023.
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority is moving forward in supporting a train station for Cambridge South and is currently undertaking a feasibility study into timetabling.
Mayor James Palmer said:
“The need for a train station for Cambridge South is urgent. We simply cannot afford to sit on our hands and wait for East-West Rail to deliver the solution to the congestion and overstretched infrastructure, particularly around the Biomedical Campus.
“While the principles of East-West Rail are sound, the benefits remain on paper with delivery not even forecast until 2027, a target which is frankly unrealistic given that routes have still not even been confirmed.
“We only need to look at the example of HS2 to realise that delay and complexity that so often surrounds these schemes, means that timetable slippage should be expected.
“Given planned expansion in the area, a train station at Cambridge South is critical and any further delays threaten to undermine projected economic growth, which would be detrimental to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough and to the UK economy at large.
“When Cambridgeshire and Peterborough stand to gain from national infrastructure projects, I stand behind them 100% of the way and will do everything in my power to support delivery. But we need to focus on the things we have more control over, so that’s why I’m pushing for a solution that can be delivered locally. This is exactly what devolution was set up for.
“We must untangle plans for a Cambridge South train station from East-West Rail and get on with delivering a station by 2023.”
The Cambridge South train station, a mayoral priority, is part of broader plans to improve rail across the area. The Mayoral Combined Authority is investing £9.5 million in upgrading the Fenland stations of Manea, March and Whittlesea and is committed to building new stations at Soham and Wisbech.
Upgraded rail will support growth, better connect people with jobs and reduce congestion on roads.
The Cambridge Biomedical Campus is home to world leading and pioneering science enterprises, teaching hospitals, and academic and research institutes. There are already more than 17,250 people employed at the campus, with the potential for at least 27,000 jobs by 2030.
AstraZeneca, a global pharmaceutical company, are investing over £500 million to relocate their Headquarters there, that will be home for around 2,000 employees.
The area has been recognised in the UK’s Industrial Strategy as vital to the future of the national economy. Cambridge is competing internationally to retain and attract business and investment so improving infrastructure is seen as essential to maintaining the area’s attractiveness as a place to locate.