The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has said there’s only one route for East West Rail that will be provide the means of reducing congestion on major road networks, reducing air pollution and carbon footprint.
CPRE say Route B, which will bring the railway through a new station in the Wixams area and relocates the nearby Sandy station north to an area near Tempsford or St. Neots, is their preferred option.
They say their choice reflects their priorities to stand up for the countryside and have been agreed with CPRE Cambridgeshire.
The Department of Transport say the East West Rail project has been established to link communities and reduce travel costs and journey times by creating direct links between Oxford, Cambridge and the communities in between.
They say it will also provide opportunities for better onward connections both north to south and further east and west.
A spokesperson for CPRE Bedfordshire said: “CPRE supports East West Rail (electrified) in principle, but see it primarily as a means of reducing congestion on major road networks, reducing air pollution and carbon footprint, not as a means of creating a massive new urban conurbation stretching from Oxford to Cambridge.”
CPRE Bedfordshire says they support Option B for the following reasons:
- It solves the serious problem of a station at Wixams (which Bedford Borough Council have already committed to in terms of funding with some developer support) which will grow by a further approx. +2000 homes in the next few years
- Provides good connectivity for both the Thameslink and MML services – with a very short journey (a few minutes only) to Bedford Midland via Thameslink to get to Bedford town or connect with MML services
- Reduces traffic in Bedford town, avoiding increased traffic flows into the town centre putting additional pressure on already over-stretched parking capacity and adding to congestion and pollution
- Prevents disturbance of the tranquillity of small rural villages and countryside north of Bedford. Taking the line to Bedford Midland and then north of Bedford would open up the whole of rural North Bedfordshire to development on a very large scale – something we should strongly resist
- Creates the opportunity to open up proper cycle routes into and out of Bedford town centre to the new Bedford South/Wixams station by developing a cycleway crossing of the A421
- Serves existing and growing populations in the vicinity of St Neots
- Minimises negative environmental impacts of route options south of Sandy, avoiding locations recognised as challenging due to environmental sensitivities at the RSPB Nature Reserve at Sandy Warren SSSI, Biggleswade Common and Wimpole Hall
Meanwhile, Bedford’s political leaders have said they all support options D and E, which bring the route through the current Midland Road station.
The consultation closes at 11:45pm on 11 March 2019. You can have your say at the East West Rail website.