MP Barclay handed campaign boost as rail minister paves way for new Cambridgeshire station

TRANSPORT minister Theresa Villiers today paved the way for a new railway station to open in Cambridgeshire - giving MP Steve Barclay’s campaign for transport improvements another boost.

The rail minister said a station could open at Chesterton within the next few years during a meeting with the NE Cambs MP, the leader of Cambridgeshire County Council Nick Clarke and Cambridge MP Julian Huppert at Cambridge’s Shire Hall this morning.

Ms Villiers said she could see no obstacles to the opening of the long-awaited station to the north of the city at Chesterton Sidings – to be named Cambridge Science Park Station.

It would provide a direct link to London, Birmingham and Norwich and is expected to alleviate congestion on Cambridge’s roads with 80 per cent of the traffic using the main station travelling from the north to the south east of the city.

Ms Villiers said: “There’s a great deal of optimism.

“It is a very good patch for it and it has potentially significant benefits for the economy and jobs in an area already important in technology, innovation and economic growth.

“The way the Government sees things is new stations are generally expected to pay for themselves so it is how much extra revenue is generated by this station and does it cover the cost of the station.

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“We’re very confident the revenue is greater than the cost for the work but work needs to be done on the numbers and business case and we are giving advice to the county council.”

A new study showed the �25 million station could be funded privately and would return the investment in seven years.

It is thought to attract 140,000 new passengers and will have parking for 400 cars.

Cambridgeshire County Council needs to now put together a business case in order for the Government to make a ‘statement of intent’ which would see the Cambridge Science Park Station included in any new rail franchise agreements.

These are up for renewal from 2013 when the First Capital Connect franchise – the company running the Cambridge to London King’s Cross service – expires.

Mr Clarke said the council would be happy to borrow the money to develop the station as there is full confidence the investment could be recouped from revenue.

He said: “We want to drive this forward and officers are working this afternoon to meet the minister’s needs and exactly what is required for Department for Transport’s acceptance.”

Mr Barclay, who has lobbied in Parliament for the improvement of transport infrastructure as a priority, said: “It’s win, win for the Government.

“The new station will encourage passenger flow meaning bigger business for people to bid for.

“It joins up a number of Government initiatives in terms of the need for new homes and for people who live in North East Cambridgeshire but work at the Cambridge Science Park.

“It is integral to the growth agenda.”

Dr Huppert said: “The conversation is moving to the timetable of the station as the principle is clearly accepted.

“There are no blocks in the way and we need the county council to complete the analysis and make the case.

“It will be a massive relief to traffic and make it easier for everyone to move through the city.”