The mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough James Palmer has said that plans for a railway station at Cambridge South should be ‘untangled’ from East West Rail.
Instead he plans to push ahead with development of the station separately in the hope that it could be built as early as 2023.
Meanwhile, the East West Rail project, which will link the city with Oxford and Milton Keynes, is not currently forecast to reach Cambridge until 2027. Mr Palmer believes even that date to be “very optimistic”.
He 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 the 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 per cent 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.”