The railway route between Oxford and Cambridge – nicknamed the Varsity Line – was opened in stages in the 19th century. Running roughly east-west, it crossed several major trunk routes linking London with the North and Midlands, and became part of the LMS in 1923 Railway Grouping. Its strategic value was recognised during the Second World War as it allowed freight traffic to avoid London and several new connections to the line were built. Despite postwar plans to develop the line further, parts of the line were closed by BR in the 1960s. Since then, rising demand on the railways in general and recognition of the value of this through route have resulted in sections being reopened and a new company, East West Rail, has been founded to re-establish the entire line by the mid-2020s, linking Oxford, Bicester, Bletchley/Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge, and also as a potential feeder route for HS2. This book surveys the history of this route and its operations, and looks at the campaign and plans to open it again, analysing both the benefits and downsides of such a large rail project today.
R. J. Cook is a graduate of the University of East Anglia where he read Social Sciences, majoring in economics and economic history. He has worked in a number of jobs including teaching and journalism. His published work includes local books and articles on Portsmouth, Havant, Hayling Island, Southampton, Aylesbury and Buckingham, as well as books on transport subjects. As a journalist he was involved in the campaign to reopen the Oxford-Cambridge line in the 1980s.K. C. Close is a modern history graduate of the University of East Anglia. He has written a number of local books after several years working for R. J. Cook as a researcher, editor and photographer. He has a keen interest in military and naval history, particularly Portsmouth, from where his then 24 year old Great Uncle embarked for D Day, never to return. He has also worked in the retail and logistics industries.
The text is well-written and lively, detailing the history of the line and the campaign for its reinstatement well, without being too technical and over-complicated.', Railways Illustrated Magazine, February 2024
Going East is a welcome addition to the Amberley catalogue and I hope that the publisher now looks at producing more similar volumes as an alternative to their tried and tested photo album books.', Rail Express Magazine, February 2024