The push for a rail link between Oxford and Cambridge has moved to the next level with high-level government officials pushing for the 67-mile line to be built as soon as possible.
Lord Adonis, chair of the National Infrastructure Commission, has received backing from Chancellor George Osborne for the funding to construct the line, which would link Oxford, Bicester, Milton Keynes and Cambridge.
Currently, “The only way of travelling ‘directly’ between Oxford and Cambridge is the X5, a four-plus-hour coach journey that will strip you of your will to live if it doesn’t strand you in Milton Keynes,” second-year Mertonian Olivia Williams said.
The renewed effort follows a report in 2014 pushing the idea of increasing connectivity between the two cities to unite their high-skilled, high-employment and highly-educated populations in order to foster technological growth and expertise stemming from the two universities and the people affiliated with them. As Lord Adonis told The Times, this was an opportunity to build “England’s Silicon Valley”. There hasn’t been a rail connection between Oxford and Cambridge since the Varsity Line closed in the 1960s, leaving students and travellers to use a four-hour coach to get between the cities.
While the government is invested in creating a technological centre for the country, students are mostly interested in the convenience.
In the current system, travellers can either take the X5 or a train to London Paddington and King’s Cross then to Cambridge, which is two-and-a-half hours. “that is, if the trains from Oxford to London and London to Cambridge are not delayed, which happen quite frequently.” said first-year Magdalen physicist Anson Yip, who makes the journey almost every weekend.
Because of these delays, “No plans for an evening in Cambridge are certain because I have to rely on the odds rather than my watch.”
Indeed, “A direct train would make the one time I am obliged to make the trip to Cambridge each year marginally less painful”, Williams said.