Sandy or Hitchin? East West Rail narrows down route from Bedford to Cambridge

East West Rail announce two potential routes from Bedford to Cambridge
East West Rail announce two potential routes from Bedford to Cambridge

Two potential routes for the East West Rail link between Bedford and Cambridge have been announced - taking passengers either via Sandy, or Hitchin.

The annoucement made today by the East West Rail consortium, which says the routes where whittled down from a long-list of seven, and will now be studied further to establish the best option.

The initial study showed the corridors connecting Bedford and Cambridge via Sandy or Hitchin offer the best value for money at this stage of development.

Network Rail will evaluate these corridors further in order to establish a preferred corridor and then consider routes within that corridor.

This follows earlier work by the East West Rail Consortium which showed improved rail services in the Eastern region could deliver significant economic benefits, sufficient to justify further investment.

Cllr Ian Bates, of Cambridgeshire County Council and Chair of the East West Rail Consortium’s Central Section Board said: “In order to secure investment for the Central Section, we need a robust business case that is aligned to local and regional growth plans as well as the strategic rail network.

“This important work is providing valuable evidence that will support our long-held ambition to reinstate east west train services that will benefit individuals, communities and businesses all the way from East Anglia through Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and beyond.”

The consortium hopes to establish a preferred route and business case for inclusion in the Initial Industry Plan due to be published in Sept 2016.

Further investigations into feasibility from a railway civil engineering perspective will be carried out once a single preferred corridor has been identified.

Network Rail is working on the east-west railway as part of its long term planning process to identify future investment options.

The western section of the line from Bedford to Oxford is due to open in March 2019.