East West Rail Link proposed route won’t pass through our South Cambs villages

Route E is the preferred route for the East West Rail Link.

Route E is the preferred route for the East West Rail Link. - Credit: Archant

The preferred option for the Bedford to Cambridge section of the East West Rail Link has been announced – and the route doesn’t go through our South Cambs villages.

CamBedRailRoad's recommended location for a new Cambourne railway station. Picture: Orbital Filming

CamBedRailRoad's recommended location for a new Cambourne railway station. Picture: Orbital Filming - Credit: Orbital Filming

Today's announcement from the East West Rail Company and transport secretary Grant Shapps will lead to the government making a final decision on whether to take the project forward, and to make an application for a Development Consent Order.

The route is expected to link existing stations in Bedford and Cambridge with communities in Cambourne and the area north of Sandy and south of St Neots - with the overall scheme connecting Oxford to Cambridge.

South Cambs-based thinktank CamBedRailRoad was formed after the proposals for a new town at Bassingbourn, together with the potential for the East West Rail Link to have a stop in the village and pass through our rural landscape - were unveiled at the end of 2017.

They have been campaigning to stop the route passing through Bassingbourn, Shepreth and other villages - instead championing a 'northern route' accomodating the expansion of Cambourne and surrounding areas.

The East West Rail Company has said the preferred route option - known as 'option E' during the consultation - was chosen following detailed analysis which found that:

- It would deliver the best value for taxpayers, returning the most benefit for every £ spent

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- 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

EWR Co also said 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, 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 www.eastwestrail.co.uk.