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Government chooses preferred route for central section of East West Rail

Words: Laura Edgar
Railway tracks / iStock-624925672

The government has announced its preferred route for the Bedford to Cambridge section of the East West Rail line.

Route E could see the connectivity of local transport across the Oxford-Cambridge Arc receive a “significant boost”.

The preferred route would see existing stations in Bedford and Cambridge linked with communities in Cambourne and the area north of Sandy, south of St Neots.

It was, according to the East West Railway Company website, the most popular option with those who responded to a consultation on the route options, and it also “delivers the best value for the taxpayer” and the “best opportunities for the environment”.

The government must now decide on whether to continue with the scheme and make an application for a development consent order.

The project is being overseen by the East West Railway Company, which was established by the UK Government in 2017 as a non-departmental public arm’s-length body.

George Freeman, minister of state for the future of transport, said: “East West Rail has the potential to improve rail links to support opportunities for new housing, reduce congestion and pollution and unlock the economic potential across the region.

“By boosting rail connectivity, we can improve access to economic opportunities for people in this area, and boost the quality of life in this vital arc.”

Paul Maynard, the minister responsible for the East West Rail link, added: “East West Rail could help us revolutionise transport in the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, increasing people’s access to job opportunities while making travel quicker, cheaper and easier.”

The western section phase 1 of the East West Rail line runs from Oxford to Bicester. It was delivered in 2016 by Network Rail, Chiltern Railways, and a joint venture led by local companies Carillion and Buckingham Group.

A line from Bicester to Bedford forms the western section phase 2, which is currently under way. It is being delivered by the East West Rail Alliance with oversight from the East West Railway Company.

More information can be found on the East West Rail Company website.

Image credit | iStock