Bletchley to Bedford
This section of East West Rail involves refurbishing existing lines from Bletchley to Bedford and major upgrades to both Bletchley and Bedford railway stations.
We have been looking at ways to carry out the work while minimising disruption for local communities. We shared these proposals during our public consultation in 2021 and are currently reviewing the feedback we received.
Developing plans for this section
Improvements to Bletchley station
Which would become an important hub with the extension of East West Rail’s services to Bedford and Cambridge
Improvements to the track
Including the reinstatement of a second track between Bletchley and Fenny Stratford
Changes to the way vehicles and pedestrians cross the railway
Replacing level crossings with safer alternatives to enable a faster, more frequent and more reliable train service
New stations at Bedford St Johns and Bedford
Bedford St Johns station would be rebuilt on a different section of track, and Bedford station would be demolished and rebuilt
Why are we proposing this work?
East West Rail represents a once in a generation opportunity to provide a reliable, frequent train service for communities between Bletchley and Bedford, along the Marston Vale Line.
It is not possible however to introduce a fast, reliable and frequent service between Oxford and Cambridge without making a significant investment in the Marston Vale Line. The line was first built in 1846, however the underlying infrastructure however has not seen significant investment for decades, and the communities it serves have changed and grown considerably over that time.
Why investment is needed:
- The signalling system is obsolete and has, at times, been unreliable. This has led to train services having to be suspended on numerous occasions
- The existing infrastructure means the line is slow, with just one train an hour, taking 42 minutes to do 16 miles – an average speed of just 25mph.
- The stations are all unstaffed, and are very constrained in terms of the facilities and experience they can offer passengers, whether that’s warm waiting areas, drop off points, or car and bike parking.
- Many of the stations have amongst the lowest usage on the national network. Indeed, three of the ten stations see fewer than 40 passengers on average each day.
We have identified two ways this part of the line could be upgraded
Concept 1: The existing hourly stopping service would continue to serve all Marston Vale Line stations, with a new limited-stop EWR service calling at two stations – Woburn Sands and Ridgmont – four times an hour. The hourly stopping service at intermediate stations would enable a change onto a faster EWR train at either Woburn Sands or Ridgmont, for connections to Oxford and Cambridge.
Concept 2: There would be five new merged stations on the Marston Vale Line – all five would benefit from at least two EWR services every hour, and some would have four. This would mean more communities have access to more frequent and faster services, direct to more locations
The introduction of East West Rail services means that Bedford station and surrounding infrastructure need a range of improvements to make sure sufficient capacity is available for trains to be punctual, so that customers receive the service and experience they should expect. Improvements to Bedford station would also contribute to the regeneration of the area around the station, and for the centre of Bedford.
What's planned for Bedford?
- Bedford St Johns station: a new Bedford St Johns station on a different section of track into Bedford, either closer to the hospital or to the south west of the existing station, close to the Ampthill Road – Elstow Road Pedestrian Link bridge.
- Bedford station: building new track to Bromham Road Bridge. The existing station building is proposed to be demolished and a new station building would be built.
- North Bedford: building new track in between Bromham Road Bridge and Clapham Green, creating the new connection to Cambridge.
What's next for this section of East West Rail?
During 2021 we held a consultation which covered the proposals described on this page, amongst other proposals across the East West Rail route. We are now analysing the feedback we received alongside other feedback from our engagement programme and our own technical research and design work to refine our proposals. These refined proposals will then be presented to the public through a 'statutory consultation', which is expected to take place in the coming year.
After this statutory stage of consultation we will carry out further work before submitting detailed plans to the Government in an application for a development consent order, which is needed to construct the proposals outlined on this page.
How will services be delivered?
We’ve designed the delivery of the East West Rail project with the community in mind. Ensuring minimal disruption, while making sure the services are reliable from the start. All to provide the best value for the taxpayer.
To achieve this, we will be introducing services in three "connection stages", with the first services between Oxford and Bletchley/Milton Keynes expected to start running around 2025. To learn more, watch our helpful video below.Watch
Whether you’d like to share your ideas about East West Rail, ask a question, or just find out more information, we’d love to hear from you through our dedicated Community Hub.Learn more