East West Rail blasted by mayor for claiming new rail line in Scotland illustrates 'huge potential' for Bedford

Comparing East West Rail with a new line in the "back of beyond" is an attempt to "desperately curry some favour" the mayor said
Image shows proposed route for East West RailImage shows proposed route for East West Rail
Image shows proposed route for East West Rail

Bedford’s mayor has blasted East West Rail after it claimed a new rail line in Scotland was an “outstanding example” of how railways can transform communities.

EWR’s CEO, Beth West, says that the Borders Railway, which connects Edinburgh and Tweedbank in the Scottish Borders, “perfectly illustrates the huge potential of East West Rail”.

You can watch EWR’s video about the Borders Railway below

But mayor Tom Wootton said comparing East West Rail to the line in the “back of beyond” was an attempt to “desperately curry some favour” when so many people are against the project.

Speaking at Bedford Borough Council’s Full Meeting last night (March 20) a resident, Mr Ian Nicholls, asked the mayor: “Do you agree that it is a false comparison to compare EWR and its Route E with the Borders Railway?”

The mayor replied: “You cannot compare somewhere in Scotland that has no road links, and, let’s choose our words carefully, is in the back of beyond with somewhere that has links like Bedford does.

“The A1, M1, dual carriageway, [there’ll] soon have 10 miles more dual carriageway from The Black Cat to Cambridge, with the prospect of East West Rail.

“I personally think that to compare them is to try to desperately curry favour when you just know that so many people are against your project,” he said.

Mr Nicholls said: “That it’s an interesting response for those of us who support the principle of the concept of East West Rail.

“I’ve been thoroughly unhappy and dissatisfied with the way that this project is going. It’s mismanaged, it’s poorly communicated and it just causes concern to residents where no concern should really have to be created.”

He added that he expected EWR to use Borders Railway as an example as there are “very few examples of newish railways to use”.

“But of course, as we’ve identified, it is a thoroughly different kettle of fish,” he said

“The Borders Railway links cities much larger than Cambridge with a tourist area with an internationally known tourist venue.

“Looking at the Galashiels improvements, most of that is not necessarily due to the railway and in fact it must be very vague to say that it has actually the railways bought improvements. So, I’m not really surprised that EWR has brought forward this as an example of how the railway will work.

“But it does highlight the need to actually examine their proposals in more detail. We need to make sure that the town centre is a nice place to live.

“And I’m afraid the current proposals by East West Rail will not deliver that environment to draw people to our borough, which deserves so much better than this cobbled together fiasco,” he said.

EWR’s CEO, Beth West said: “Borders Railway is an outstanding example of how a railway can be transformational for local economies and communities, helping places flourish and become more dynamic and desirable to visit.

“The positive turnaround that has happened in Galashiels as a direct result of Borders Railway perfectly illustrates the huge potential of East West Rail to transform Bedford in particular, as well as to deliver real long-term benefits along the entire route from Oxford to Cambridge via Milton Keynes.

“Successful case studies like Borders Rail provide an encouraging and inspiring blueprint for East West Rail to deliver a huge, positive legacy for residents, business and economies across the route.”