On 30 January 2020 the Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt. Hon. Grant Shapps MP, announced the preferred route option for East West Rail, between Bedford and Cambridge.
The Preferred Route Option links existing stations in Bedford and Cambridge with communities in Cambourne and the area north of Sandy, south of St. Neots, and was chosen following detailed analysis over several months. This route option:
- would represent the best value for taxpayers, returning the most benefit for every pound spent
- was the most popular option with people who responded to our 2019 consultation
- would deliver the best opportunities for supporting and enhancing the environment
Key benefits of the Preferred Route Option would include:
- A new station for the growing population at Cambourne
- A new station in the area around Sandy and St Neots connecting with services to towns including Edinburgh, Peterborough and Doncaster
- Easy access to Bedford town centre, supporting plans to regenerate the town and enabling connections to communities across the midlands
- Simple access to Cambridge city centre, and connections onto communities across Anglia and Norfolk
Download Connecting Communities - Bedford to Cambridge Preferred Route Option: Executive Summary
While we believe the case for Route Option E is stronger than other route options that directly serve a proposed Wixams station south of Bedford, we are very keen to ensure that the growing communities in that area are able to benefit from the East West Rail connections from Oxford to Cambridge. For that reason, we are starting an important piece of work to explore options for ‘first mile-last mile’ connectivity between the south of Bedford and East West Rail.
What do people living and working in the Preferred Route Area need to know?
At present, we are still working to develop the precise alignment that the railway would take within the Preferred Route Option. Crucially, before the Route Alignment is chosen, there will be more opportunities for you to comment on the plans and we will continue to use feedback from communities as part of our decision-making process throughout the life of the project.
Our aim is to avoid adverse effects in existing communities and residential areas wherever possible. As the project and our design progresses, we will discuss the evolving detail with individual landowners and occupiers directly.
We will be undertaking environmental surveys in the area around the Preferred Route Option, to help us choose the right alignment, and from February onward will be contacting local landowners to arrange access for these surveys.
Legal safeguards are already in place for people impacted by projects like ours, and we will also publish our own detailed policies before the statutory consultation.
We will work hard to earn the trust of anyone who might be impacted by the railway, and will be transparent and clear at every stage.
Detailed reports on how we chose the Preferred Route Option and a full account of the public consultation we held in 2019 are available here, along with a number of helpful documents explaining our commitments to landowners, our approach to the environment and our approach to building local companies into our supply chain.
In the coming weeks, we will be holding public information events in communities across the area, where you can come and speak to the team, pick up documents and find out about the next steps. Details will be published on our website in the next few days.