Council support reopening of rail link

BUCKINGHAMSHIRE’S transport boss has backed a conservation group’s call to re-introduce the Bourne End to High Wycombe rail link.

High Wycombe Society says a recent decision to re-open the line between Oxford and the town “reinforces the case” for bringing back the link.

The Maidenhead to High Wycombe line, which stopped at Bourne End, closed in 1971.

Now Buckinghamshire County Council – responsible for some transport planning in the county – has backed the line’s re-opening.

Val Letheren, cabinet member for transport, said the council was looking into the “feasibility” of the move but needed Government cash and an operator.

Cllr Letheren said: “We are looking for links from Wycombe to other towns.

“We have looked into the cost and we, as a county council, cannot pay for it. But if someone came along and said ‘We are willing to pay for it’, we would support them.’’ Wooburn and Bourne End Parish Council chairman Julia Langley also said they would be “very supportive” of the re-introduction of the line.

But Chiltern Railways, which runs trains from High Wycombe Station, said it was not interested in running light rail on the line as it was a mainline operator.

The Department for Transport has said it was up to BCC and the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead to decide if they wished to re-introduce the link.

Sean Armstrong, DFT spokesman, said: “Local authorities must identify funding sources and demonstrate that there is a robust business case for re-opening a line, also giving consideration of benefits to passengers, the environment and, where appropria-te, freight users.

”We would also expect local authorities to work with Network Rail and the relevant train operating company to ensure that any re-opened line would be operationally feasible.’’ Elsa Woodward, of the High Wycombe Society’s transport group, said there was “no realistic public transport” between the towns.

The five-mile track has been built on in a few places but Mrs Woodward said a recent study showed the move could be “achievable with very little demolition.”

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