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Rail junction plans run risk of derailment


A MULTI-million pound rail junction to serve a proposed freight centre at Alconbury airfield is expected to prompt an official objection from councillors.

The junction, proposed by Alconbury Developments Ltd, will be discussed at a special meeting of Huntingdonshire District Council tomorrow.

Planners at the authority are recommending that it should object to the Government over a Transport and Work Act order to make the junction on the East Coast Main Line route.

ADL, which is behind the plans to turn the airfield into a major freight centre, says rail freight is vital to keep lorries off the region's roads.

The council came out against the freight plan a year ago and a public inquiry will be held in May. Objections to the junction are likely to be dealt with at the same inquiry.

A report to the council said that the proximity of the airfield, a strategic development opportunity, to the rail line suggested a link could be of benefit.

But it was considered that the proposed junction was tied to the ADL scheme and may not be suitable for other uses of the site.

It also said that ADL had failed to demonstrate the safe and effective operation of the junction and that some safety issues did not appear to have been addressed adequately.

The report said the views of the Shadow Strategic Rail Authority should have been obtained and that a statement on the environmental effects of the junction were inadequate.

Council leader Coun Richard Turpin said that although a rail link could be of use, the current proposal was specific to the ADL scheme and ADL had not been diligent enough in addressing environmental issues.

Ian Hudson, of ADL, said: "Everyone will see that this is just posturing by HDC and does nothing to address the concerns of local people.

"They are more worried about traffic, jobs and prosperity, the very issues which ADL's scheme addresses."