Houses north of Bedford station don't need to be demolished by East West Rail proposals, says council

Report claims service could run with existing four lines and avoid homes in Poets area being affected

Monday, 10th May 2021, 3:16 pm
Updated Monday, 10th May 2021, 3:18 pm

A report looking at options around the East West Rail route north of Bedford station has shown the service could run effectively using just the existing four lines, and avoid the need to demolish any homes in the Poets area.

Bedford Borough Council commissioned SLC Rail - specialists in rail projects - to conduct a technical review of this section of the route in response to the East West Rail Company’s (EWRC) current consultation proposing six tracks to run north of the station.

EWRC's plan would require over 50 homes to be compulsorily purchased and potentially demolished, nearly 50 more to lose some of their land or gardens and another rebuilding of the Bromham Road Bridge causing further disruption to residents.

Protests signs around Poets area

But SLC Rail's report shows that East West Rail trains could run on the existing lines, as in a standard hour of train services there is still 28 minutes – nearly half of the time – where the line is free and an East West Rail service could run.

It also shows that this free time could be extended to 40 minutes in the hour with some relatively minor changes to the track layout within its existing boundaries.

The report concludes that with efficient timetabling and some track layout adjustments it is possible to bring the East West Rail service through Bedford station without the need to demolish homes - and that it would also be a cheaper option than the proposed six tracks.

Mayor Dave Hodgson said: "This report confirms what we have said all along – that there is no need for extra lines on the section of track north of Bedford station to Fairhill.

"The rail experts producing this report for the council have demonstrated that with a few relatively minor adjustments to the track layout there is ample capacity for East West Rail trains to and from Cambridge, without the need for the government to compulsorily purchase homes in the Poets area.

“We can also see that Network Rail came to this same conclusion in a report they have recently released. We will now continue to push the East West Railway Company to adopt this revised approach, so that our community can benefit from this once in a generation investment that will bring jobs and businesses to Bedford borough without the loss of homes in the Poets area."