East West Rail offers a huge opportunity to unlock productivity in the Oxford-Cambridge region, boosting economic growth both locally and nationally through improved connectivity and access to jobs, education and training, housing and leisure.
In particular, the region plays host to research and development hubs across a variety of highly skilled and highly productive sectors such as life sciences research at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus. East West Rail will allow us to connect these vital sites with a much greater talent pool and allow the region to retain and grow its reputation globally. The first stage of the railway is currently in delivery and services will begin to run from 2025.
The Autumn Statement in November 2022 recommitted to government’s transformative growth plans for our railways, including the intention to deliver the remainder of the East West Rail project between Bletchley and Cambridge.
The Budget delivered by this government in March 2023 further underlined the government’s commitment to the project, setting out plans for a route update announcement and the next steps for the project in May 2023.
This announcement has been made and confirms the proposals which will be taken forward for further development. These include:
confirming a preferred route alignment between Bedford and Cambridge, including new stations which would serve Tempsford and Cambourne, and a southern approach to Cambridge
revised service frequencies along the line of route to best meet demand
six-tracking of the Midland Mainline at Bedford to boost capacity and improve resilience
relocation of Bedford St. John’s station to better serve Bedford Hospital
potential level crossing changes and closures which account for increased EWR traffic but preserve public access
the launch of a ‘need to sell’ property support scheme to help affected homeowners
The East West Rail Company will consult further on its proposals as part of a statutory consultation ahead of an application for a development consent order. This consultation is due to take place in 2024.
Taking forward these next steps for the East West Rail scheme exemplifies this government’s commitment to long-term economic growth supported by improved connectivity and the access to the skills, education and jobs needed to deliver national growth and individual prosperity.