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29.01.19

Five route options for East West Rail project unveiled

The East West Railway Company (EWRC) has unveiled five proposed routes for the new rail line between Bedford and Cambridge as a public consultation on the next phase of the scheme gets underway.

The major East West Rail project will run from Oxford to Cambridge in three sections, and the central line running between Bedford and Cambridge has moved one step closer as EWRC has launched a six-week public consultation on the route.

The EWRC, set up by Chris Grayling in 2017 to deliver East West Rail, has proposed five options for the rail line, all five of which reduce travel times and travel costs, and has also revealed potential new stations for the area.

Of the five new routes, three take a broadly southern route through south Cambridgeshire via Bassingbourn, whilst the other two follow a more northern route via Cambourne.

The consultation, which runs from 28 January to 11 March, also reveals new potential stations in Cambourne, St Neots, Sandy, Tempsford, and Bassingbourn. An interchange with the Midland Main Line at Bedford is also being considered.

Three of the route options would see the line start at one of these new stations; and four routes would link into the existing Sandy railway station, which would provide the potential to link the new line with the existing East Coast Main Line.

Whilst the central Bedford-Cambridge section requires an entirely new rail line and new station to be built, the western section of the project will be built by reinstating and upgrading old rail lines.

The East West Rail route is expected to be built by the mid-2020s, with EWRC saying the new line will unlock a wealth of benefits for communities along the Bedford-Cambridge route, and will reduce journey times and transports costs as well as supporting housing growth and boosting the local economy.

Simon Blanchflower, EWRC’s chief executive, commented: “Bedford, Cambridge and the communities in between need the right kind of infrastructure to support them. We’re hoping that residents will give use feedback on these route options to help us understand more about the priorities of the people this line will serve.”

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: “The launch of this consultation marks a significant milestone in bringing this project to fruition.

“East West Rail will transform journeys in one of Europe’s most vibrant economic regions, providing passengers and businesses with the transport system they deserve while unlocking the area’s economic potential.”

Route A: Bedford South – Sandy (re-located south) – Cambridge (via Bassingbourn)

ewr a

This route, the cheapest of the five (£2bn), would see the Sandy station relocated south and Oxford to Cambridgeshire journey times set at 76 minutes, but could also impact on a nearby RSPB nature reserve.

Route B: Bedford South – Sandy (re-located north) / Tempsford area / south of St Neots – Cambourne – Cambridge

ewr b

The second route would cut journey times to 80 minutes, requiring Sandy station to be relocated north and could duplicate proposed Metro services.

Route C: Bedford South – Tempsford area – Sandy – Cambridge (via Bassingbourn)

ewr c

This route serves the existing Sandy station and would also see a Cambridge-Oxford journey time of 80 minutes. However, the route could impact on the RSPB nature reserve and could develop complex links with the East Coast Main Line.

Route D: Bedford Midland – Tempsford area – Sandy – Cambridge (via Bassingbourn)

ewr d

Serving the existing Sandy station, the fourth route also provides direct connectivity to Bedford town centre, but does also come close to the RSPB nature reserve.

Route E: Bedford Midland – south of St Neots / Tempsford area – Cambourne – Cambridge

ewr e

The final route is by far the most expensive of the options (£3.4bn), and provides direct connectivity to Bedford, journey times of 82 minutes, and avoids relocating Bedford station.

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