Lib Dems pledge to restore Cambridge-Oxford rail line

The Lib Dems pledge to restore the Cambridge-Oxford rail line Credit: Chris Radburn/PA Archive

The Liberal Democrats have made an election pledge to restore the rail link between the university cities of Cambridge and Oxford. The so-called Varsity Line was shut in the 1960s.

The Lib Dems also want to encourage existing towns along the route to grow into Garden Cities with tens of thousand of news homes promised. The proposals were outlined at the Liberal Democrat Conference in Glasgow.

The party said it would re-open the Oxford to Cambridge Rail Link in full as the "Garden Cities Line". It added the project would "dramatically expand three to five of the towns along the route to enable approximately 50,000 new homes to be built on Garden City principles."

"Britain faces a housing crisis. Every day, 200 fewer families own their own home, as home owners die and more young families get stuck renting, unable to afford to buy. Housebuilding is stuck in the doldrums, with nowhere near enough homes being built to meet demand and keep prices affordable for those families desperate for a home of their own."

Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg MP

The Cambridge to Oxford rail line used to run between Sandy, Bedford and Bletchley before heading towards Oxford. Only part of the line is currently in use in the Anglia region between Bedford and Bletchley.

The Liberal Democrats say a new line could also reduce rail journey times between Oxford and Cambridge from 2½ hours to roughly 60 minutes.

Bedford, which is already planned to have a station on the line has recently given planning permission for 18,000 additional homes.

The Lib Dems want to offer Bedford as an example to other locations along the line and offer them an express service stop on the line in exchange for their increasing their housing stock significantly along Garden City Principles.