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Travelling the Busway blog

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Response to proposal for staged reopening

The staged proposals were promoted on the Internet, through letters in the local press and some modest coverage in articles and radio broadcasts. The response was overwhelming, including an offer of £100,000 from an individual, provided fund raising at least matched this figure.

Based very broadly on the Wensleydale model, Stage 1 could be achieved within a year. The actual cost and timescale depends on many factors, in particular obtaining access to Network Rail land. However, the infrastructure is there and rail vehicles are available to lease immediately.

The chain of events in this respect makes for interesting reading:

CAST.IRON applied formally to Network Rail to lease the land in a letter dated 27th July 2003. On 29th July 2003, Alan Browning (Rail Development Officer at Cambridgeshire County Council) received a letter from NR containing two pieces of information:

  • That an organisation called CAST.IRON was in existence; and
  • That the St Ives branch was finally to be closed at midnight on Saturday 2nd August.

Subsequent information has revealed that the 'network change' process by which the line was closed commenced on 24th March 2003, well before CAST.IRON came into existence.

However the precipitous nature of the actual closure is less transparent. In particular, the completion of the process at the earliest opportunity after an offer to lease the line is of great concern. It can be seen that final closure was decided upon on the very day an offer to lease the land was received. It may have been within the letter of the rules, but in terms of NR being a publicly owned rail company accountable to its representative members, was it within the spirit of the rules? After all, CAST.IRON's members and supporters are the tax-paying public, too.

Regrettably, this sequence of events has resulted in a situation where CAST.IRON and Cambridgeshire County Council are now in direct opposition with regard to access to railway lands.

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Site last modified December 2018