Bedford mayor blasts East West Rail over treatment of residents during meeting with company

“It is unacceptable”

By Clare Turner
Wednesday, 29th June 2022, 3:02 pm

Bedford mayor Dave Hodgson and Councillor Michael Headley told the government’s East West Rail Company (EWR) representatives how outraged they were at the way residents in Bedford are being treated.

During this week’s meeting, they also reaffirmed their strong opposition to six tracks north of Bedford and argued the merits of electrification.

The mayor said: “It is unacceptable how residents across the borough, especially in the directly affected areas, have been treated.

East West Rail protest signs in Bedford

“The repeated delays and inconsistent communications must end. Our residents deserve better.”

Rail portfolio holder councillor Michael Headley added: “Six tracks is entirely unnecessary. We have shown how the existing four tracks north of Bedford station can function for this project. Most importantly, keeping four tracks protects residents’ homes in the Poets’ area.

“The railway will provide huge environmental benefits, by replacing thousands of road journeys with a much more sustainable mode of transport. To maximise these benefits, it is essential that the railway is electrified from day one.

“Other options would cause disruptions in the future and wouldn’t fit with the Government’s carbon neutral strategy. We have and will continue to lobby the EWR Company for this.”

Bedford mayor Dave Hodgson

The to-ing and fro-ing between Bedford Borough Council and EWR has been going on for some time – earlier this month, councillors slammed the company over delays and lack of communication

And last week, EWR in a statement to Bedford Today said adding two tracks was the best way to provide punctual services

The Government and EWR have yet to make decisions on the number of tracks to the north of Bedford following last year’s consultation or whether the line will be electrified from day one.

A spokesman for EWR said last week: “We also understand that people want clarity as soon as possible.

East West Rail protest signs in the Poets area

“We absolutely recognise this and will provide an update on how proposals have developed as soon as we can.”

The mayor and Cllr Headley are also meeting East Midlands Railway later this week to discuss connectivity to the north, fast line platforms and the refurbishment of the second-hand electric trains on the Corby to London line.