New station for St Neots among preferred route for Cambridge to Bedford rail service

Route E is the preferred route for the East West Rail.

Route E is the preferred route for the East West Rail. - Credit: Archant

New station for St Neots agreed as part of the Bedford to Cambridge perferred route.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapp speaking at the House of Commons.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapp speaking at the House of Commons. - Credit: Archant

A preferred route has been announced for a rail service between Bedford and Cambridge, which could see a new train station for St Neots.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has today (Thursday) announced the preferred route for the East West Rail Service, which will link existing stations in Bedford and Cambridge with Cambourne and an area north of Sandy and south of St Neots.

The announcement revealed that the preferred route includes the potential for a new station for Cambourne and a new station south of St Neots, connecting services to towns including Peterborough and Doncaster.

It will also link people in the town to Cambridge city centre as well as Suffolk and Norfolk.

The final decision will be made by the Government, with a hope that they will make an application for a Development Consent Order (DCO).

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Shapps said: "I am pleased to confirm that the Government today will announce that the preferred route for the Bedford to Cambridge section of East West Rail, following public consultation, we have accepted the East West Rail companies recommendation, route E, which runs from Bedford Midlands, a new station between Sandy and St Neots and a new station at Cambourne. That route to Cambridge will be taken forward to the next stage of development."

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Simon Blanchflower, chief executive of East West Railway Company, said: "Of the five route options we consulted on, people were really positive about the one we have chosen. The line would bring people closer to opportunities for jobs and homes and bring friends and family closer together.

"There is still a lot of work to be done, including further consultations and engagement with local communities. Today is an important milestone for everyone living and working in the Arc, and for us at the East West Railway Company, marks the beginning of a really exciting new phase."

As East West Railway Company moves to develop the alignment for the railway and prepares for further consultation, a detailed process of land surveys will begin to gain an understanding of plant and animal species, that could affect the environmental or engineering decisions. Landowners in the area of the Preferred Route Option will be contacted in the coming weeks.

Executive Leader of the Council, Councillor Ryan Fuller, said: "This decision has been long in the making and we are delighted that East West Rail has chosen Route E which brings the potential for greater prosperity to all parts of "Huntingdonshire, a choice that is best suited to our residents and businesses. We worked tirelessly with our neighbouring councils to make the economic opportunity case for Route E, with its new station to be positioned to the south of "St Neots providing exceptional transport links across the OxCam Arc and beyond, in conjunction with improvement works to both the A14 and A428.

"The chosen route also makes maximum use of existing infrastructure corridors, meaning that the impact on our precious countryside will be limited. Huntingdonshire is in an area of high economic growth, the news of this investment in major infrastructure is one key project that will help to support our existing communities and businesses with planned and future growth."

Mayor James Palmer said:"We welcome the announcement of the preferred route for East-West Rail, and look forward to further details as to the specific route that will connect Cambridge and Cambourne with the East Coast Mainline south of St Neots.

"To be clear, this will not affect our plans for delivery on the Cambridge Autonomous Metro, and we remain committed to bringing the CAM to Cambourne and on into the centre of St Neots. The CAM will deliver a world-class mass transit system that will complement the new rail link, serving the smaller communities that the heavy rail line will pass without stopping.

"Local residents may notice a lot of construction work in the future, with the CAM, East West Rail and the dualling of the A428 all planned for the next few years. With so many new transport projects underway in this area, it is critical that we who are responsible for delivery think strategically about how plans relate to and connect with each other, to ensure the minimal disruption and the best possible service for the people and communities we serve."