Preferred Route Option Between Bedford and Cambridge announced

A new direction of travel for communities from Bedford to Cambridge

Communities between Bedford and Cambridge move a step closer to faster, more sustainable connectivity today (30 January 2020), as a Preferred Route Option for this section of the East West Rail line was announced. This will lead to the Government making a final decision on whether to take this project forward, and to make an application for a Development Consent Order (DCO).

Download a more detailed preferred route option map.

 Expected to link existing stations in Bedford and Cambridge with communities in Cambourne and the area north of Sandy, south of St. Neots, the Preferred Route Option was chosen following detailed analysis which found that: 

  • It would deliver the best value for taxpayers, returning the most benefit for every £ spent
  • It was the most popular option with people who responded to EWR Co’s 2019 consultation
  • It would deliver the best opportunities for supporting and enhancing the environment.

The announcement reveals the detailed potential benefits of the Preferred Route Option for local communities, including:

  • A potential brand new station for the growing population at Cambourne
  • A potential brand new station in the area north of Sandy, south of St Neots connecting with services to towns including Peterborough and Doncaster and even as far as Edinburgh
  • Easy access to Bedford town centre, potentially 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 Suffolk and Norfolk

 The chosen route would also support local aspirations to develop housing which is more affordable in areas along the route.

Local businesses would benefit from access to suppliers, customers, and talent as more people will be able to afford to live and work in the area.

 Simon Blanchflower CBE, Chief Executive of East West Railway Company said: “Of the five route options we consulted on, people were really positive about the one we have chosen. The line would  bring people closer to opportunities for jobs and homes and bring friends and family closer together.

 There is still a lot of work to be done, including further consultations and engagement with local communities. Today is an important milestone for everyone living and working in the Arc, and for us at the East West Railway Company, marks the beginning of a really exciting new phase.”

 As East West Railway Company moves to develop the alignment for the railway and prepares for further consultation, a detailed process of land surveys will begin to gain an understanding of plant and animal species, historical features and geological conditions that could affect the environmental or engineering decisions. Landowners in the area of the Preferred Route Option will be contacted in the coming weeks.

 Local communities are invited to meet the team at East West Railway Company at a series of local events to talk about the project and what will happen next. Details of these events will be published in the coming days on




Notes to editors

Details of the Bedford to Cambridge Preferred Route Option are revealed in the same week that the Government opened a £500m ‘Beeching reversal fund’ which will build on the success of projects like East West Rail, and aims to reconnect communities across Great Britain.

More information about the Preferred Route Option

The preferred route was labelled Route Option E in the consultation East West Railway Company held in early 2019.

During the six week early-stage, non-statutory consultation, we asked for comments on five possible route options. Over 3,500 people took the time to come to our events, and 7,000 responded to the consultation via telephone, email, directly through our website or by using the freepost feedback form. 

We will continue to update our website with information as the project progresses.

About East West Rail

East West Rail is a proposed new rail link under development which would connect communities between Oxford, Cambridge, Bedford and Milton Keynes, creating new opportunities for people right across the area by;

  • Making it cheaper and quicker to get around the area – connecting people to their jobs, homes and families, as well as businesses to their employees, suppliers and customers.
  • Supporting new housing to make it more affordable and help your money go further - so people could afford to live and work in the area, and businesses can afford to create more jobs and increase productivity.

As well as improving quality of life for people locally, it would help businesses to become more competitive and productive so they can take advantage of the world-class opportunities the area offers by;

  • Making places more appealing for people wanting to start and grow businesses attracting and retaining the best talent in the region, while encouraging new investment to support the economy.
  • Spreading prosperity across the UK - creating growth for towns and cities outside of London. The National Infrastructure Commission estimated that creating these transport links and supporting the area between Oxford and Cambridge was worth nearly £80bn extra each year for the British economy.

About East West Railway Company

East West Railway Company was set up by the Secretary of State for Transport in 2017 to develop a railway with customers and communities at its core.

  • Between Oxford, Bedford and Milton Keynes, our role is to oversee the work already underway
  • Between Bedford and Cambridge, we are taking the project through the development of the railway
  • We’ll also be integrating the two sides of the project to get the best results for all the communities we serve, from Oxford to Cambridge.

We have a mission to innovate and challenge the status-quo in the rail and construction industries, leading to a more efficient and cost-effective project delivery, and a great experience for passengers and the communities we serve.

Our distinctive outlook and commitment to doing the right thing for our customers and local communities runs through everything we do and every decision we make.