Video: New video shows planned �55m London-Cambridge rail link

Plans for a new rail link which will help reduce delays and allow extra trains to travel to and from London have been unveiled by Network Rail. The �55m viaduct near Hitchin in Hertfordshire will remove one the country s worst bottlenecks, taking the li

Plans for a new rail link which will help reduce delays and allow extra trains to travel to and from London have been unveiled by Network Rail.

The �55m viaduct near Hitchin in Hertfordshire will remove one the country's worst bottlenecks, taking the line to Cambridge over, rather than across, the East Coast Main Line.

Today trains travelling from London to Cambridge have to cross three other lines to switch between the East Coast Main Line and the line to Cambridge. This reduces capacity for other services and makes the railway less reliable when delays occur.

The new rail link would avoid these problems completely, cutting delays to train services by nearly 18,000 minutes every year and helping create the capacity to run more services to and from the capital every hour.

Improving the railway at Cambridge junction is needed not only to solve the problems caused by the current track layout but also to help meet growing demand on the railway. Over the past decade the number of passengers travelling between Peterborough and London has increased by 35% with an 18% increase in journeys between London and Cambridge. This growth is expected to continue in the long term, as is freight traffic.

Richard Lungmuss, route director, Network Rail said: "The investment we are planning in the Hitchin area is about improving transport links, reducing delays to passengers and increasing the number of services. Rail users the length of the country will feel the benefits of this scheme as we remove the biggest remaining pinch point on the East Coast Main Line.

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"We're excited at the prospect and now we want rail users and the people of Hitchin to have their say."

Network Rail's proposals have been developed working closely with North Hertfordshire District Council and other important stakeholders. The design for the new rail line is as low profile as possible, involving a mixture of embankment and viaduct. A full environmental impact study will look at issues including landscaping, noise levels, rivers and flooding and ecology.

Residents can have their say on the plans at a Network Rail exhibition being held at Hitchin Priory from Thursday 2 to Saturday 4 April. The event will give people the chance to see the plans in full, watch a 'fly through' video showing what the completed rail link could look like and give feedback to the project team.

Following the consultation Network Rail hopes to apply for permission to build the line later this year. It is hoped this will be granted by early 2011, allowing work to start on the project later that year. This would mean that trains would be running on the new line around the beginning of 2014.

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