How East West Rail would benefit Bedford

East West Rail would make it easier to connect to other parts of the UK and get around the area with affordable connections that would stimulate local employment and support local plans to improve Bedford town centre. The new railway would also provide access to jobs and opportunities in nearby Cambridge – as well as hubs across the region – bolstering the local business environment. Recognised as one of the UK’s most entrepreneurial towns and home to global companies, Bedford has huge potential to create prosperity for all.

    EWR would provide direct commuter services from Bedford to Oxford and Cambridge, as well as new services to Milton Keynes, which would encourage more people into the area and boost the local economy. By stimulating new employment opportunities, people in Bedford could access a range of new jobs at all levels. When asked about the impact of a new rail service from Bedford to Cambridge, Cambourne, Milton Keynes and Oxford, 80% of people in Bedford said it would improve access to jobs.

    We aim to foster local economic growth, giving communities improved access to education and skills. Bedford is already an economic hotspot for leading companies in aerospace, engineering, digital technology and logistics but a new and improved transport link would support inclusive growth. 

    EWR would connect to most of the north-south main lines making it easier for Bedford residents to get to the rest of the UK and explore the nation’s most loved destinations. Easy interchanges with other train lines will also provide better connections to UK airports such as Luton, Stansted and Birmingham, making overseas destinations more accessible.

    Better rail connections would make it easier to enjoy time with friends across the region and beyond, without the need to travel into London and change trains. Days out, cultural visits, countryside, and shopping trips would all be easier. 

    We would deliver investment in Bedford by upgrading the train station and relocating Bedford St Johns station so that it’s more convenient for hospital staff, patients and visitors. Over 80% of Bedford residents believe that a new, frequent rail service across the region will improve how people can travel around the area, while 78% believe EWR will improve their access to essential public services. The new rail link will also take cars off the road, improving air quality and easing congestion.

    EWR would provide easy access to the centre of Bedford, support plans to regenerate the town, and help local businesses. The project would include major improvements to Bedford station and enable better, safer pedestrian links to the river, cultural quarter and town centre. 

    The new railway would open up access to a market of nearly four million people across the Oxford-Cambridge area and encourage more businesses and working professionals to call Bedford home. 

What improvements are being made?

    This would include a new station for Bedford hospital which would relocate and replace the existing St Johns station, and a multi-million pound makeover of Bedford station. 

    Bedford station is already an important transport hub for the region, providing a gateway into the town centre and easy connections to Thameslink and East Midlands Railway (EMR) services on the Midland Main Line (MML). Introducing EWR services would strengthen the hub and support local aspirations for more jobs, prosperity and growth. Improvements to Bedford station would contribute to the regeneration of the area immediately around the station, as well as the centre of Bedford. 

    We propose to relocate the existing Bedford St Johns station closer to Bedford Hospital. This would provide a better location that’s more convenient for patients, hospital staff and visitors, while also allowing us to improve the alignment of the railway into Bedford station. 

    After extensive work to test whether we can run services on the existing MML without adding new tracks, we’ve concluded that we need an additional two tracks north of the existing Bedford station. The current level of congestion on the existing four tracks, which are in an area officially designated as congested by Network Rail, mean additional tracks are needed to ensure EWR could serve Bedford town centre and provide a reliable service which does not conflict with other trains.

    This video explains some of the reasons why two additional tracks are needed north of Bedford.

    To construct these new tracks, we’d need to acquire some properties near the current railway boundary. At the last consultation we thought we might need to acquire up to 97 residential properties, but we’ve continued to challenge the design in this area and believe this figure is now lower. Even though we’ve reduced the number of impacted properties, we continue to look for ways to further limit the impact of EWR in this area, and we’re launching a scheme to help homeowners in this area with immediate effect. 

    We’re working with those whose home or business may be affected and supporting them in in a range of ways including via the Proposed Need to Sell Property Scheme. Further information on the Proposed Need to Sell Property Scheme can be found on our dedicated Need to Sell page here.

    More information on homes, land and property is available on our dedicated Land & Property page here. 


East West Rail - Borders Rail Case Study
East West Rail - Bedford Survey Results
East West Rail - See how EWR would make it easier to get out and about across the UK
East West Rail - Unlocking the Science Supercluster
East West Rail - YQA Bedford community drop-in event May 2023
East West Rail - Why an additional two tracks are needed north of Bedford
East West Rail - Transforming everyday journeys

Documents & factsheets

  • Assessment Factors factsheet
  • Benefits of East West Rail factsheet
  • Connecting Bedford factsheet
  • Connecting Bedford and Cambourne factsheet
  • Our approach to the environment factsheet
  • Route Update Report
  • Why two additional tracks are needed north of Bedford factsheet


  • Approach to Bedford, Bedford St Johns & Bedford Station
  • Bedford to Cambourne
  • East West Rail preferred route
  • Properties likely to be directly affected in the Poets area of Bedford
  • Potential locations for Bedford St Johns station
  • Route from Bletchley to Bedford
  • Varsity Hybrid alignments – Environmental risks/constraints

Meet your community engagement team

Here at EWR Co, we’re passionate about hearing what local representatives and their communities think about East West Rail. It means we can work together as we build a successful project that will deliver shorter journey times, lower transport costs and ease pressure on local roads while bringing people closer to the things that matter most – jobs, friends and family.

Meet your Community Engagement Manager, Gail Buckland and your Local Representatives Groups Engagement Manager, Sarah Jacobs.

Head over to our community hub where we’ve set up 15 Local Representatives Groups in all areas along the route where we will deliver EWR and have a dedicated page to our events.

Find out more
Gail and Sarah photo lockup resized
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Community conversations

7 May 2024
The Bedford Swan Hotel, The Embankment, Bedford, MK40 1RW

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Community conversations

20 May 2024
Roxton Village Hall, High Street, Roxton, MK44 3EB

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Community conversations

24 May 2024
Marston Moreteyne Community Centre, Great Linns, Marston Moreteyne, MK43 0DD

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Statutory consultation

Summer 2024

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Latest stories

We're delivering EWR over several stages. This includes:

  • Upgrading an existing section of railway between Oxford and Bicester  
  • Bringing back a section of railway between Bicester and Bletchley  
  • Refurbishing existing railway between Bletchley and Bedford  
  • Building brand new railway infrastructure between Bedford and Cambridge 

East West Rail trains are expected to start running between Oxford and Bletchley/Milton Keynes in 2025, with services extending across the route in the coming years – following planning approvals and construction of the new railway.

What’s next? 

We expect trains to start running on this section of the railway to Bletchley/Milton Keynes in late 2025. To build and operate a railway which would extend services from Oxford beyond Bletchley/Milton Keynes, we need to apply for a Development Consent Order (DCO) and as part of this are required to carry out a statutory consultation. We are carrying out consultation over two stages, the first of which we expect to take place this summer.

oxford station