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Press Release 26 November 2003

"Time to admit defeat on Guided Bus - CAST.IRON Rail boss slams another County Council delay"

Cambridgeshire County Council's latest postponement of its plans for the St. Ives to Cambridge guided bus is causing needless delay to public transport improvements in the area, according to CAST.IRON chairman Tim Phillips.

The Council has just announced that the vote timetabled for December 17th will be delayed. Cambridgeshire County Council Cabinet will discuss the scheme on January 27 with the final plans will go to Full Council on February 10.

"The Council has saddled itself with a square peg and is trying very hard to hammer it into a round hole", said Mr Phillips, "but it doesn't matter how hard they hit it, it will never hold water".

CAST.IRON - the Cambridge And St. Ives Railway Organisation - is putting the finishing touches to its plans to reopen the railway and will be presenting them in full at the Holiday Inn, Impington on Tuesday 2nd December from 5pm with a public meeting from 7.30 followed by a question-and-answer session.

"The Council has got to start taking its responsibilities seriously", said Mr Phillips. "The so-called guided bus plans have been in development for years but even quite basic questions remain unanswered...and that's because there are no answers to them. It's quite simple: there is a railway already in place and it has only been out of use for 12 years out of the last 150. It is part of the National Network and should be reinstated. Cambridge is the fastest growing area in the country with the biggest Science Park in Europe. What does all this justify? Bus stops on the way to the City Centre or railway stations with access to local, regional, national and international services?"

CAST.IRON has over 20 staff working on the rail plans, up to 40 others assisting in various ways and a membership of over 700. At each of the recent public meetings in Cambridge, Histon and Swavesey and St. Ives, no more than four people have objected to the rail plans. "That makes about 277 out of 281 in favour of rail - so far", said CAST.IRON meetings co-ordinator, Charles Warner. Mr Phillips says that, the Council now has a duty to abandon the guided bus plans and he welcomes the opportunity of working with them. "CAST.IRON can reopen the railway service fairly easily but we cannot provide some of the add-ons like car parks and cycle paths without the Council's support. The last vote scraped by with the lowest possible margin so our fight is not with every single councillor. It only needs a handful more to understand the bigger picture and we will have yet another partner AND we will have got over the only real obstacle to our plans. Then we can get on with the real work of providing the transport Cambridge deserves and putting us properly on the national railway map."

"Cambridge cannot afford to wait any longer for something we could be building right now. The guided bus is never going to be right for this area so the sooner the idea is abandoned, the quicker we can get on with it".

END OF PRESS RELEASE


BACKGROUND NOTES TO EDITORS

Editorial Comment - Tim Phillips E: chairmain@castiron.org.uk

Currently, Network Rail (the owners of the line) refuse to negotiate with CAST.IRON or give permission for access to the line because of the Council's 'pending' application. There would seem no longer to be any excuse for this obstruction. The contact at Network Rail is Mark Phillips, 0207 904 4001.

See Media Resources page for a downloadable document with further notes for editors.

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