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Braintree to Stansted Airport ‘could be achieved in 10 years’ says rail group

Abellio Greater Anglia

Abellio Greater Anglia

A rail passenger group is calling for pressure to be kept up to develop a railway link between Braintree and Stansted Airport.

The Witham and Braintree Rail Users’ Association has estimated the project would cost around £150million to implement and could be achieved within ten years.

It would link the main London to Norwich Line with the West Essex route via Witham, Braintree, Great Dunmow and the airport.

David Bigg, association chairman, said: “We cannot get a precise route at the moment because every time we do someone puts a housing development on it.

“But not only would this do what it says on the tin, but also provide other benefits – an alternative rail link between London and Bishops Stortford, and join the mainlines together.

“We are also asking our MEPs to investigate if it could benefit from EU funding as part of the Trans-European Network.

“We are confident we could get the line but it won’t be without a fight.

“The important thing is to establish the principle and then worry about detail. I acknowledge it won’t be an easy ask but it is do-able.”

Graham Butland, leader of Braintree District Council, said: “Braintree to Stansted Airport would have a lot of merit. The airport is the largest single employer of people in the district, with some 1,500 people, and as a district council we are very supportive of the expansion of Stansted within its current planning arrangements.

“It would be lovely but the cost is high and if it ever happens it would be a long time away. The A120 would come way ahead, and a passing loop for the existing Braintree-Witham line is a higher priority.

“Whether it would need to be a railway, or could perhaps be a light tramway, which I assume would be cheaper, is maybe an option.

“But it would still be significant amounts of public or private money.”

Mr Bigg said a light railway was “an option B”, as it would be better to be able to carry freight.

Kevin Bentley, deputy leader of Essex County Council, added: “It is certainly something we are ambitious for.

“We are very poorly served east-west in Essex, even with roads, and we do need something.

“There remains a question over timing and funding though.”

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