East West Rail will boost regeneration in Bedford claims EWR Co

There will be drop-in sessions to find out more
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East West Rail has claimed the service will boost regeneration in Bedford as it announced its latest proposals today (Friday).

The latest proposals include the announcement that EWR is sticking with its six-track plan and route E option north of Bedford.

The company says plans for EWR have been updated following feedback from the second non-statutory public consultation with local people. The updated proposals include two new stations for Bedford – with St Johns station being moved closer to Bedford Hospital between Ampthill Road and Cauldwell Street.

EWR route mapEWR route map
EWR route map

There will also be a multi-million-pound makeover of the Bedford Midland station, supporting the wider regeneration of the town centre. And a new station will be buil t near Tempsford.

According to East West Rail, the route will slash travel times by up to 40 minutes for people living in Bedford who want to travel to Cambridge or Milton Keynes. Today, journeys between Bedford and Cambridge take 50 to 75 minutes by road and two hours by train. EWR will cut this to just 35 minutes.

And trains would run roughly every 20 minutes in each direction between Bedford and Bletchley, with line speeds faster than the current 60mph but capped below the 100 mph originally proposed in 2021.

Meanwhile, the number of homes at risk in Bedford has been reduced from 97 to 65, with the company saying it is continuing to look for ways to reduce this even further and a Proposed Need to Sell Property Scheme being set up to help imacted landowners.

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Beth West, CEO, EWR Co, said: “People in Bedford deserve access to faster and more reliable east-west public transport, and EWR is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to open up new journeys, cut travel times, ease congestion on local roads and bring more jobs within reach of people living locally.

“Quick, reliable public transport linking Bedford with Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford continues to have widespread local support and our updated proposals have been shaped by the hundreds of conversations we’ve had with local people, businesses and other stakeholders and the thousands of responses we received to our most recent public consultation.

“By adding two additional tracks to the Midland Mainline tracks north of Bedford, EWR will be able to serve Bedford town centre and deliver faster and more reliable east-west public transport services that will unlock new opportunities for people in Bedford and the surrounding areas. We recognise that these additional tracks would affect some people’s homes and we’ve been determined to reduce this impact. By challenging the design, we’ve found ways to significantly reduce the number of properties affected in this area and are today publishing new guidance and support for landowners.”

A series of public drop-in events are being arranged to provide opportunities to meet the EWR Co team and find out more about the updated proposals.

Justin Richardson, chief executive, Bedfordshire Chambers of Commerce, said: “Bedford's regeneration is already underway, and the new East West Rail line will boost it significantly, helping more people travel right into the centre of Bedford. It will help local businesses to be better connected with other regional businesses and institutions and bring more jobs within the reach of local people. The improved connectivity will also help to attract new investment into Bedford town centre and the surrounding areas.”