The report issued by the mayor was not issued by East West Rail, nor has it been agreed by them.
It is written by a consultant that Bedford Borough Council (BBC) employed called SLC.
East West Rail may or may not take this report into account when BBC respond with it. EWR ignored BBC’s previous consultant report in the 2019 consultation – and EWR came up with the six-track option that BBC had visibility of in August 2019, but chose not to share with residents.
Although I welcome BBC making an attempt to support those in Poets whose homes are at risk – it does nothing for those people outside of that area, either in town or in the northern parishes.
As it was so rushed (the council has until 9 June to respond) it appears to be more a political positioning statement – note the timing is after the council’s deadline for questions, but before the open public sessions, so doesn’t allow proper scrutiny for questioning.
There are several questions that this report raises, in particular:
- The BBC report is modelled on 4 trains per hour – however EWR’s plan is for 6 trains per hour. Will that stand the scrutiny of EWR’s business case?
- The assumptions used are based on Network Rail’s capacity report in 2019 – this does not include future growth in capacity requirements, some of which have already been announced since then. The planned increases in usage of Midland Mainline mean that this suggestion would be a non-starter without concessions from Network Rail. At least it confirms freight is a consideration – however, Network Rail’s Freight report predicts a rise in Freight demand of 3% per year by 2042.
- This would mean an increase in demand of 30% between now and when this railway goes live in 2030 on the shared track, thus rendering this model useless before it is built. Remember the purpose of the OX-Cam arc is to facilitate a million homes by 2050 – that is a lot of aggregates to shift – do we expect that to be on the roads the government has just cancelled?
It is good that the Council are battling for some of their residents at least.
It is bad that the council have pitched it so euphorically when there is a lot of battling still to do to convince EWR.
No one who is concerned about this Route, including the Poets residents, should rest on the Council’s laurels – especially when their proposal is so flimsy, and their previous consultant report was ignored.
Parish councillor and spokesperson for the BFARe Group
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