75% of people in Bedford support East West Rail, new survey shows

Three-quarters (75%) of people in Bedford support a new east-west rail service – which East West Rail (EWR) will provide – a new survey shows. 

The poll of 1,000 people – deemed by polling experts as a robust and accurate sample size - shows a huge number of people in Bedford believe a project like EWR will bring many benefits. 

Asked about the impact of a new, frequent rail service from Bedford to Cambridge, Cambourne, Milton Keynes and Oxford, the survey found:  

  • 80% believe it will improve access to jobs  
  • 75% say it will boost access to education 
  • 78% believe it will improve access to essential public services like hospitals 
  • 83% say it will improve how people can travel around the area 
  • 58% believe it will make it easier to visit family and friends 

Beth West, CEO, EWR Company, said: “This new survey is strong testament to the support that Bedford residents have for East West Rail and underpins how the project will bring such game-changing benefits to the local community.     

“East West Rail has been designed to improve quality of life for everyone across the region. What this poll shows is that Bedford residents agree that EWR will do that by improving people’s access to quality jobs, educational opportunities and public services. We believe the route we have chosen, which connects the town centre and Bedford Hospital, is the one that will deliver the most benefits for Bedford. It’s clear from this survey that people do recognise the opportunities our line will bring.   

“It’s important that a major transport project like ours has support from people who live and work in the town. We always thought this to be the case and now have strong evidence to back this up. We will continue to work hard with local businesses and communities in Bedford to ensure East West Rail improves their everyday lives, which includes working closely with local transport providers to maximise the potential of local and regional services.” 

Richard Tunnicliffe, Regional Director, CBI, said: “New infrastructure can bring major benefits to businesses and help fuel local economies, so it’s vital that towns like Bedford and the businesses there get the transport connections they need so they can prosper.   

“East West Rail will be key driver of economic prosperity in Bedford, providing businesses with the confidence to invest in the area with the prospect of greater connectivity, giving greater accessibility to more trade and a larger labour market. This project can only be a good thing for Bedford and we look forward to its many benefits becoming a reality.” 

Suzanna Austin, Development Manager, FSB (Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire), said: “Locally we are aligned with most people polled in this survey and support East West Rail in connecting Bedford to Cambridge. This connection will benefit the local business community with a much-needed modern rail infrastructure.   

“Many businesses in the Bedford area currently suffer with the lack of connectivity, hampering their efforts to grow. This sustainable transport project has been a long time coming and by reforging this old connection, will aid in revitalising the local economy, increasing footfall and improving prosperity, all of which will bring a major boost to small businesses.” 

East West Rail will provide significant benefits for Bedford. These include improvements to Bedford Midland station, which will drive regeneration of the area around the station and the town centre, and relocating Bedford St Johns station closer to Bedford Hospital, which will improve access for patients, visitors and staff.  

The Marston Vale Line will see a three-fold increase in services, which will help boost the local economy, while EWR will make Bedford just 35 minutes away from Cambridge, creating business collaboration, expansion and job opportunities. 

The new survey follows a rallying call in December by Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce who urged Government to accelerate full delivery of East West Rail. The Chamber said EWR is vital to revitalise the town centre as a dynamic hub with better connectivity which will create jobs, boost inward investment and create a more attractive shopping, leisure and hospitality destination. 


Notes to Editors 

  • Letter of support for EWR by Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce 
  • The survey of 1,000 people was carried out in Bedford between 8 December 2023 and 4 January 2024 by Yonder Data Solutions, who are a Company Partner of the Market Research Society. More information is available on our website. 
  • It is generally agreed that a poll of 1,000 people has a margin of +/- 3% with 95% confidence level. 


About the East West Rail Project 

The East West Rail Project is a once in a generation opportunity to connect people and businesses between Oxford, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge through a new direct rail line. It is a railway with community at its heart that will open up new journeys, cut travel times, and ease congestion on local roads. The route will connect people to the things and places that matter, bringing local benefit and sustainable growth by unlocking the social and economic potential of the area. 

The East West Rail Project will be delivered in three Connection Stages:  

  • Connection Stage One: Oxford to Bletchley and Milton Keynes  
  • Connection Stage Two: Oxford to Bedford  
  • Connection Stage Three: Oxford to Cambridge  

Network Rail was responsible for developing the first part of Connection Stage One, connecting Oxford with Bicester before the East West Rail Company (EWR co) was set up.  Since 2018, EWR Co and Network Rail have partnered in a construction alliance, East West Rail Alliance, to complete Connection Stage One. EWR Co and Network Rail are acting as the Department for Transport’s joint sponsors.  

EWR Co is now developing Connection Stage Two and Connection Stage Three to enable services to run to Cambridge via Bedford and plans to seek statutory powers under the Planning Act 2008, following a period of extensive consultation.  

About the East West Railway Company  

The East West Railway Company (EWR Co) is a non-departmental public body with limited company status set up by the Secretary of State for Transport in 2018 to deliver the East West Rail (EWR) Project.    

EWR Co aims to bring fresh thinking to the Project, challenging the industry status quo, leading to more efficient and cost-effective project delivery and better outcomes for the communities in and around the Project.  

The corridor, which runs from Oxford through Milton Keynes and Bedford to Cambridge, is an economic artery that makes the UK a global leader in life sciences, technology and innovation, with the potential to create jobs, drive growth and attract investment for the entire country. EWR Co’s ambition is to unlock the full potential of this region that is vital to keeping the UK globally competitive in a way that considers the environment and offers value for taxpayers.