What a north south zigzag around Cambridge
The East West Rail Company has unveiled five potential routes the new line could take into Cambridge – including proposals for a huge flyover in the South Cambridgeshire countryside.
The routes are revealed as the latest phase of public consultation on the £5billion line linking Oxford and Cambridge, via Milton Keynes and Bedford, is launched.
The consultation documents acknowledge an “emerging preference” for the new station at Cambourne to be built to the north of the town, rather than the initial suggestion of placing it in the south, where residents, the town council and the Wildlife Trust feared it would have devastated the Country Park.
But other aspects will raise major questions for communities along the proposed routes.
It remains in favour of a southern approach to Cambridge due to a number of major engineering challenges with a northern approach.
And this means a large flyover is proposed south of Harston to cross the River Cam, the A10 and the existing railway line – as exclusively revealed in this week’s Cambridge Independent.
A deep cutting through a hill south of Haslingfield is also part of the plans.
The East West Rail Company, which hopes to complete the new line by the end of the decade, is seeking feedback on the five proposed route alignments, connecting existing stations in Bedford and Cambridge via new stations in the area around Sandy and St Neots and at Cambourne.
From there, the rail company – which highlights two of the five schemes as its favoured routes – still prefers a route southwards into a stop at Cambridge South station to serve the fast-growing Cambridge Biomedical Campus.
This is the first time the entire route has been drawn together in a single consultation.
The East West Rail company said there were six key areas of focus for the consultation:
- How Oxford Station and its supporting infrastructure could be improved – including Oxford Parkway and Bicester Village stations
- Options for avoiding lengthy periods of delay at the London Road level crossing, Bicester
- How to ensure that communities around Bletchley and the Marston Vale Line would get the most from significant investment in their railway line
- Options for new stations at Bedford and Bedford St Johns and their supporting infrastructure
- Five route alignment options for the section of East West Rail between Bedford and Cambridge, including an emerging preference for a station at Cambourne North
- Plans for improving customer experience through better station design and more timely travel information
The company has also presented developing plans for a new Bedford St Johns Station and a complete redevelopment of Bedford Station. Direct journeys from Bedford to Cambridge will take 35 minutes.