The Liberal Democrats candidate for Mayor of Cambridge and Peterborough has launched a campaign to stop diesel trains being used on the new East West Rail line.

Aidan Van de Weyer is campaigning for the line - which will eventually connect Cambridge with Oxford - to be electrified to reduce its impact on the environment.

He said: “Allowing diesel trains on the new East West Rail will be a disaster, both for residents along the route and for the environment.”

Last month, the government announced a £760m fund will be spent to break ground on the new railway link which could be completed by the end of the decade.

Diesel trains are set to run on the line until new hydrogen or battery technologies are developed.

Cambs Times: Aidan Van de Weyer, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.Aidan Van de Weyer, Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. (Image: Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats)

But Mr Van de Weyer is urging people to sign a Cambridgeshire Liberal Democrats petition which calls for the line to be zero carbon from day one, electrified along its entire length and alternative technologies like batteries or hydrogen cells used if they become viable.

He said: “Building railways just for diesel trains is a retrograde step.

“It shows that the conservative government just isn’t serious about tackling climate change with the vigour that we need.”

While the Liberal Democrats are in favour of the overall project, it argues the work “must be done right”.

Mr Van de Weyer explains electrification of railway lines is a “tried and tested technology” and “a reliable and efficient way of reducing the carbon impact of transport”.

He added residents along the route are concerned about the amount of air pollution generated by the diesel trains.

“The opportunity to invest in the electrification of East West Rail needs to be seized now - not left until the line has been built, when costs will have soared,” he said.

He added: “East West Rail is a fantastic project that will enable sustainable travel between Cambridge and Oxford and points in between, but it must be done right.

“Getting people out of diesel cars and into diesel trains is madness. The government is showing that its promises on climate change are hollow."