Why is East West Rail needed?

    East West Rail plans to connect communities between Oxford, Milton Keynes, Bedford, Cambridge, creating new opportunities for people right across the area by: 

    • Making it cheaper and quicker to get around the area – connecting people to their jobs, homes and families, as well as businesses to their employees, suppliers and customers
    • Supporting new housing to make it more affordable and help your money go further – so people can afford to live and work in the area, and businesses can afford to create more jobs and increase productivity. 

    As well as improving quality of life for people locally, it would help businesses by

    • Making places more appealing for people wanting to start and grow businesses – attracting and retaining the best talent in the region, while encouraging new investment to support the economy
    • Spreading prosperity across the UK – creating growth for towns and cities outside of London. The National Infrastructure Commission estimated that creating these transport links and supporting the area between Oxford and Cambridge was worth nearly £80bn extra each year for the British economy

    Who is the East West Railway Company?

    The East West Railway Company (EWR Co) was set up in 2017 to develop a railway with customers and communities at its core. We are passionate about building a railway that best serves people living and working between Oxford, Cambridge, Bedford and Milton Keynes, as well as providing the best value for the taxpayer. 

    We have a mission to do things differently, to innovate and challenge the status quo in the rail and construction industries. Our distinctive outlook and passion for doing the right thing for our customers and local communities runs through everything we do and every decision we make.

    How much will East West Rail cost?

    The current cost estimate for building East West Rail all the way from Oxford to Cambridge is around £5bn in 2019 prices. At this early stage in the project’s development, particularly between Bedford and Cambridge, there are still significant uncertainties to resolve, and this figure is likely to change as we do more detailed work. We will keep people updated over time.

    When will East West Rail be fully open?

    East West Rail is opening in phases, and the first phase is already open between Oxford and Bicester. It is proposed that services would run all the way from Oxford to Cambridge before the end of the decade.

    How will East West Rail connect with other lines?

    East West Rail would interchange with several main lines giving passengers access to local and long-distance destinations across the UK, such as Reading, Norwich, Kettering, Leeds, Corby and Nottingham, as well as several stations in London.

    What is the preferred route option between Bedford and Cambridge?

    Linking existing stations in Bedford and Cambridge with communities in Cambourne and the area north of Sandy, south of St Neots, this route was the favourite among people who responded to our consultation on route options. It would provide:

    • Fast and affordable connections between existing stations in Bedford and Cambridge, and communities in Cambourne and the area north of Sandy, south of St Neots 
    • A brand new station for the growing population at Cambourne 
    • A brand new station in the area between Sandy and St Neots connecting with services to towns including Peterborough and Doncaster, and as far afield as Edinburgh
    • Easy access to Bedford town centre, supporting plans to regenerate the town and enabling connections to communities across the Midlands, like Corby and Kettering
    •  Simple access to Cambridge city centre, and connections across Anglia and Norfolk

    How was the preferred route option chosen?

    We analysed responses from the public consultation held in 2019 and carried out extensive research, which found that this route: 

    • Would deliver the best value for taxpayers, returning the most benefit for every pound spent 
    • Was the most popular option with people who responded to EWR Co’s 2019 consultation 
    • Would deliver the best opportunities for supporting and enhancing the environment

    Will East West Rail stop at Cambridge South station?

    Cambridge South station is a separate project being led by Network Rail. If the station proceeds, we would expect at least some East West Rail services to stop at Cambridge South station. We are working closely with the Cambridge South team to explore this further.

    What about the area south of Bedford?

    While we believe the case for Route Option E is stronger than for route options that directly serve a proposed Wixams station south of Bedford, we are very keen to ensure that the growing communities in that area are able to benefit from the East West Rail connections running from Oxford to Cambridge.

    What do people living in the preferred route option area need to know?

    At present, we are still working to develop the precise alignment that the railway will take within the preferred route option. Crucially, before the Route Alignment is chosen, there will be more opportunities for you to comment on the plans and we will continue to use feedback from communities as part of our decision-making process throughout the life of the project.

     As part of the next phase of our work, we will need to survey and access land. We will be in touch directly with those whose help we need to take this project forward. We are doing our best to avoid impacting people, and our aim is to avoid adverse effects in residential areas and existing communities wherever possible. As the project and our design progresses, we will discuss the evolving detail with individual landowners and occupiers directly. Legal safeguards are already in place for people impacted by projects like ours, and we will also publish our own detailed policies before the statutory consultation. 

    We will work hard to earn the trust of anyone who might be impacted by the railway, and will be transparent and clear at every stage.