Plans to transform train services between Cambridge and London Liverpool Street have cleared the final hurdle after Cambridge City Council granted permission for Network Rail’s £16.7m scheme to build a new island platform, complete with footbridge and lifts, at Cambridge station.
The decision means work on the scheme can start in April with a scheduled completion in time for the December 2011 timetable change, which will see the introduction of 50% longer National Express East Anglia trains on key commuter services between Cambridge and London Liverpool Street.
Andrew Munden, Network Rail route director, said: “This is excellent news for Cambridge and the surrounding area. Britain relies on rail to get more than 3m people to and from work every day and as passenger numbers continue to grow it is essential that we maintain investment in our rail network.
“The new platforms will make a real difference to passengers, boosting capacity on this busy line, improving punctuality and reducing overcrowding further still. Our improvements at Cambridge are part of an investment programme which will see the station and surrounding area transformed over the coming years.”
The new platforms are crucial to train operator National Express East Anglia’s plans to improve train services and provide more seats for passengers on the West Anglia route in 2011, with the introduction of new, longer trains now under construction. Today, services between Cambridge and the capital are very busy and the existing track layout in and around the station is constrained, especially at peak times.
Adding two new 270m bi-directional platforms – numbered 7 and 8 – means trains can arrive and depart in either direction, freeing up vital capacity on the existing platforms and making sure Cambridge can cater for additional rail services in the future.
A new covered footbridge and lifts will connect the new platforms to the rest of the station, making life easier for those who find the stairs a struggle. After consultation with local cycling groups, the staircases will include cycle guttering to help cycle users move around the station.
Andrew Chivers, managing director of National Express East Anglia, said: “We’re very pleased that work is to commence on the additional platform capacity at Cambridge. Later this year we will be introducing a fleet of 30 brand new trains on our Stansted Express and West Anglia route which will include running longer trains at peak-times on our busy Cambridge to Liverpool Street service. The island platform will also help to improve train service performance at Cambridge.”