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Bedford-Sandy backed for East West Rail Central Section

Chiltern Railways 168214 at Oxford Parkway on October 26 2015. RICHARD CLINNICK.

The Bedford-Sandy-Cambridge corridor was confirmed on March 29 as the preferred option for the East West Rail Central Section.

EWR plans to improve connectivity by introducing faster trains between Oxford, Cambridge and East Anglia. Network Rail said that 20 options were considered, and that written documentation, analysis and evidence supporting the decision will be released in May. Further analysis and consultation will then take place to determine options for the route.

Rail Minister Claire Perry said the National Infrastructure Commission will take on the East West Rail Consortium’s work, incorporating it into a wider project to unlock growth in the corridor.

Erica Blamire, principal strategic planner for Network Rail, said: “In reaching our decision on the Central Section we have assessed the benefits and costs of several potential broad corridors, with input from rail industry stakeholders and regional working groups, including the local authorities in the East West Rail Consortium and the Department for Transport."

  • For more on this story, read RAIL 798, published on April 13.

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  • Andrew Long - 29/03/2016 18:58

    A good choice. But EWR services must operate via Bedford (Midland) for interchange with EMT/MML. Much of Bedford-Sandy trackbed is re-usable as it is now a cycleway, which Sustrans should hand back to facilitate the reopening!

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  • Andrewjgwilt1989 - 29/03/2016 20:45

    Does that mean that the new Bedford-Sandy-Cambridge Central Section could get the go ahead to be built linking from Bedford to Cambridge with a new bridge and platforms to be built at Sandy which will connect with the ECML.

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  • Martin Yallop - 30/03/2016 07:07

    Good news. The bus link between Bedford and Sandy takes far too long. Apart from the main East-West link, many local rail links will be possible.

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  • East West Rail Stink - 30/03/2016 12:56

    The only input not considered is that from those upon whom this decision will most impact. Situation normal..............

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    • Chish - 06/04/2016 14:35

      Well some of us DID meet with everybody concerned about 15 years ago. But all that expenditure and effort has now been wasted. The clever highly paid new people think they know better and then don't do as good a job as we did back then. Willington and others will NOT allow this to happen. And it could have been so much better...

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  • Gizzy - 30/03/2016 13:11

    The new Bedford-Sandy-Cambridge Central section is getting the go ahead Andrew. It is though unlikely to be built along the former Varsity line alignment as part of the Cambridge Guided Busway runs along the old route, and the Mullard Observatory is also located on part of the old track bed....

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    • Andrewjgwilt1989 - 07/04/2016 01:01

      So a new railway is to be built between Cambridge and Bedford with a new bridge and 2 new platforms to be built at Sandy as the new East-West rail link will go above the ECML and also the section between Bletchley and Bicester is to be double track and some stations may need some improvements aswell new signalling and a new chord to be built at Bicester to link up with the Chiltern Main Line.

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  • Prue Wullems - 30/03/2016 17:49

    Hmmm - is this likely to make property values in Sandy go up, or down? The disruption of the build to home owners in the immediate vicinity in the short to medium term is likely to be substantial, though the longer term benefits are clear. Also, does anyone have any information on the proposed pathway of the East/West link from Sandy to Bedford? Will it be North or South of Sandy. When is building likely to begin?

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  • Melvyn - 31/03/2016 23:40

    When I look at the map Rail uses with this project I notice the closed Hitchin to Bedford line and wonder if this could be re-opened and electrified? It would become part of Thameslink and offer a link between ECML and MML something that could be useful for freight trains which could reduce their number north of Hitchin on ECML. I think it would be better if busway was replaced by re-opened railway and same applies to former Luton to Dunstable Line which would also be electrified and added to Thameslink giving Dunstable a through service to central London which is far better than local buses .

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  • Ron - 01/04/2016 15:08

    Good east west rail travel without having to go to London. It should open the rail links coast to coast and possibly further once folk start us ring and traveling further afield . Mind you the rail price reduction soul encourage more rail users.

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  • Chish - 05/04/2016 14:38

    Sir The decision to use the old Bedford / Sandy route for EWR is one of utter madness. As one of very few people to have walked the whole route many times and possibly the only one to have held public meetings with all the Parish Councils from Winslow to Sandy many years ago when I was Project Officer for EWR I know the level of local feelings against this idea in that area, the total waste of money it will be and the lack of foresight needed to maximise growth and attract new customers in the Bedford / Cambridge corridor. What we have witnessed is the same old ex BR thought processes, short termism and blinkered views of those who now apparently make these decisions. It is especially frustrating when, given the issues even then at Willington and Sandy let alone getting paths on the ECML, I was able to find a route using the (then) new Gt Barford Bypass works planned by the Highways Agency. It was agreed that a rail 'space' could be passively engineered alongside that road as it all fitted within the LTP and created a Transport Corridor. And when you drive the A421 even now you can see how that space is available. Had that option been taken up (at very limited construction and NO TWA costs) we would now have a rail route up to Black Cat Roundabout on the A1, some 22 miles from Cambridge, connecting with but not using the ECML and able to maximise growth areas of Wyboston, St Neots, Camborne and A14 / North Cambridge with connection to the Great Northern line. The ideas now being proposed would get to Sandy causing huge blight, construction costs, protests, increased legal costs and delays and STILL have either: a) a further hour's train journey via Hitchin which itself is some 19 miles away with Cambridge a further 32 miles or b) some vague route direct from Sandy which is 22 miles from Cambridge. As I say it is utter madness and shows we have learned nothing since I walked all those miles, listened to hundreds of very passionate people and sought to answer questions some 15 years ago. Yes it really does take that long to do anything in railways!

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