Concerns have been raised about three of the proposed routes for the new East West rail line and how they could affect plans for the highly-sought after Wixams train station.
However, the East West Rail Company says that if Wixams gets a train station it will most likely be the ‘Bedford South’ station spoken about in proposed routes: A, B and C.
Bedford’s Mayor, Dave Hodgson, raised concerns while commenting on the consultation of the routes, saying: “A station to the south of Bedford would delay or even threaten the already long-awaited Wixams station altogether.”
But, a spokesperson for the East West Rail company said: “If one of the three routes with a new station to the south of Bedford is chosen as the preferred route and Wixams station goes ahead, there would be a strong case for EWR using this new station…
“If Wixams does not go ahead, we would create a new station somewhere else in the broad area to the south of Bedford. We’ll continue to work closely with Network Rail and Bedford Borough Council as plans for a station at Wixams progress.”
Regardless, all leading political parties in Bedford say they believe the East West route, which will connect Oxford with Cambridge, should come through Bedford’s existing Midland Road Station.
Bedford Mayor, Dave Hodgson (Lib-Dem), maintains that routes D and E are the best options: “This is a passenger railway, so it should stop where passengers are and where passengers can get to…
“Let’s maximise the benefits of this excellent project by having it serve local people and employers, and let’s all support that by speaking up for a route via Bedford.”
Conservative Mayoral Candidate, Cllr Carofano agrees: “The best route for Bedford would be option D which would, with the associated investment, enable us to improve our often gridlocked traffic flows, carry out the revival of the long neglected Midland Road area and generally help boost the Town Centre.
“It is not however the cheapest or most convenient of the three options and we will have to lobby for it very strongly as a Council.
“The point must be made also that the ridiculously prolonged consultation process is not helping the Council formulate a comprehensive transport strategy which is now long overdue.”
Bedford and Kempston MP, Mohammad Yasin (Lab), said he too would prefer the route to go through the existing station on Midland Road: “I’d obviously prefer this new service to run from Bedford Station.
“But I do recognise that a new rail link will bring extra traffic into the town too, and so works should take this into account and include improved facilities for rail users.
“It’s important that as many people as possible respond to the consultation.”
MP for North East Bedfordshire, Alistair Burt (Con), added that it was important everyone takes part in the consultation: “This is an exciting and ambitious project that will link communities and reduce travel costs and journey times between them.
“It will help create opportunities for businesses to grow and create jobs, and support housing growth in the area.”
Five routes are now being consulted on with Bedfordians being encouraged to take part to make sure their voices are heard.
You can take part in the consultation online at: eastwestrail.co.uk/haveyoursay
There will also be a consultation event where you can see the plans up-close and speak to the East West Rail Company at Scott Hall, Barford Avenue MK42 0DS on 15 February, from 3.30pm to 7.30pm.