The Government is being urged to create a strategic rail connection from Luton to the West Coast main line at Leighton Buzzard, instead of supporting Luton Council's plan for a busway on the mothballed Luton-Dunstable line.

Bedfordshire County Council said the new line could link Luton airport, the Eurostar Terminal at St Pancras and Houghton Regis.

The council has voted to withdraw the Transport and Works Act Application for the Translink busway plan and review public transport in south Bedfordshire. 

The county council decision follows a vote by South Bedfordshire District Council on 3 February 2004 to reject Translink and press for a transport appraisal.

At least 233 objections/representations to the TWA application for Translink had been received by the Department for Transport by 10 February.

The scheme to provide a guided busway between Luton and Dunstable using vehicles that run both on their own tracks and on public roads was recently allocated almost £80million of Government funding, following an application by the county council and Luton borough council.

At a full meeting of the county council in February 2004, councillors decided not to go ahead with publishing enabling orders under the Transport and Works Act to move the project forward.

Under the Act, the councils are required to confirm their intention to go ahead with these orders at the first available full council meeting, if the scheme is to progress.

Instead, the council agreed to carry out, in conjunction with other affected authorities and agencies, a full appraisal of current and future transport needs in southern Bedfordshire.

Councillor Richard Payne, executive member for the environment, said: "Since the last evaluation of the project in 2001, the Government has announced plans for 35% more dwellings in the county and major expansion at London Luton Airport. The council therefore felt it was logical to seek a revised solution which took account of these new pressures.

"There are major transport issues in the south of the county that must be addressed, and the council is committed to working with others to find the best possible solution."