East West Rail and BFARe urge people to find out more about rail route through Bedford Borough

BFARe logo
BFARe is a campaign group that believes East West Rail’s 2019 public consultation was flawed and the resulting preferred route is not the best East-West/Oxford to Cambridge rail route for Bedford.

East West Rail Co, the organisation charged with delivering the East West Oxford to Cambridge rail project has published answers to what they say are the “key concerns and questions” following the updated route proposals for East West Rail (EWR) two weeks ago.

Read: East West Rail corridor announced

These include:

  • A regular video series with the EWR Co team, which responds to the most prominent questions the team has received since the new proposals were published
  • An animation explaining considerations around serving central Bedford and using the existing Midland Main Line north of Bedford
  • A range of factsheets on key matters, such as freight, powering EWR and specific proposals around Bedford

This is the first of a series of materials being published along the route.

Beth West, CEO of EWR Co, said: “I’m a strong believer in community involvement and we know individual residents, neighbourhoods, communities and businesses in the area will have questions about how the proposals affect them.

“I’m determined we respond to those questions and we’ve made a start on answering some of the key questions we receive in our new regular video series – ‘Your Questions Answered’.

“I actively encourage people to continue asking us questions and to attend our public drop-in events in Bedford and Bedfordshire, which begin in Bedford this Tuesday 13 June.

“EWR is a once in a generation opportunity. It has the potential to positively impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. If you live or work around Bedfordshire, this is your railway, so I’d urge you to come along and speak to the team about the updated proposals.”

Beth West
Beth West, CEO at East West Rail Company

EWR is also hosting several events along the route designed to ensure everyone has an opportunity to speak to the EWR Co team about their individual situations and circumstances and what the updated proposals mean for them.

In Bedford, these events will be at:

  • Tuesday 13 June in Bedford, at Bedford Heights, from 2pm – 8pm
  • Tuesday 20 June in Ravensden, at Ravensden Village Hall, from 2pm – 8pm

They will allow locals to find out more about the new EWR proposals, ask questions, understand the next steps in the Project and provide opportunities to meet the EWR Co team face-to-face.

Campaigners urge Bedfordians to attend

In response to the announcement of the events, local campaign group BFARe is urging Bedfordians to attend these two meetings.

BFARe believes that East West Rail Route E is the worst route to serve both our own community and every other town between Oxford and Cambridge.

They argue that Route E is “not fit for purpose” and is a “waste of taxpayer money”. They believe that there are greener, cheaper, shorter, and faster routes, and that better business cases exist.

BFARe will continue to fight for such a route to be adopted.

A spokesperson for BFARe also said that pollution is a major factor in their concern for the impact of the chosen EWR route, “Bedford sits in a depression and particulates do not dissipate easily or quickly.

“The latest World Health Organisation report states that a maximum safe level is 5 μg/m3 for Particulate Matter 2.5. Bedford Borough Council monitored levels show that levels already average around nine, almost double the safe levels.

“The implications of running four extra freight and passenger diesel trains an hour through the town centre… are

Last month EWR Co published the latest proposals for EWR, which follow extensive consultation with the public that generated nearly 10,000 responses. The updated plans cover:

  • proposals for a new station serving Bedford Hospital
  • a preferred route alignment between Bedford and Cambridge
  • Two additional tracks on either side of the Midland Main Line north of Bedford
  • A new station at Tempsford

The events do not form part of the statutory public consultation, which will include even more detailed proposals and is expected to take place in the first half of 2024.

More information about the events, as well as available options for travel to the meetings, can be found here.

If any Bedfordshire resident or business has specific concerns they would like to discuss separately to these meetings, they can email contact@eastwestrail.co.uk.

Keep Local news Alive in Bedfordshire