East West Rail need to change track

Railway - Adrian Royston

Debate continues about the best option for the East West Rail route into Cambridge, with calls for a fundamental rethink

There are growing calls for a rethink on the approach that the new East West Rail line will take into Cambridge - many residents fear there will be environmental destruction if current proposals to take a southern route from Cambourne through the countryside to the planned Cambridge South railway proceed.

There is demand for the northern route, following the A428 corridor and heading via Northstowe into Cambridge North, to be given equal consideration. The Wildlife Trust support full consideration of route options into Cambridge North as such a route would affect fewer important wildlife sites, have less impact on local nature recovery networks, and better align with proposed new developments as well as help support more sustainable options for the future long-term growth of Cambridge.

The group Cambridge Approaches are actively campaigning for the more northerly route, and encouraging signatures on the petition drawn up by the 'community based think tank' CamBedRailRoad. A recent article in the Cambridge Independent explores the debate fully. 

When the Department for Transport announced last year that the section of East West Rail from Bedford to Cambridge would run through Cambourne, rather than Bassingbourn, they still had not looked in detail at the option to take the line further north as it heads east to Cambridge, which could significantly reduce the risk to key wildlife sites.

The Government continues to refuse to carry out a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the proposals, which would require them to consider alternative routes, such as a route north of the current A428, and take into account the ecological impacts of those alternatives.

The Government has also failed to commit to electrifying the route, leaving diesel trains as the only option for East West Rail. Electrification, which would be much easier to implement as the route is built, would allow energy to come from low-carbon sources in the future.

See the Wildlife Trust BCN full response below

East West Rail public consultation now closed

We have urged East West Rail and the Government to:

  • Undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the route options between Bedford and Cambridge.
  • Fully assess the cumulative environmental impacts in combination with other major infrastructure projects and associated housing development.
  • Select a final route between Bedford and Cambridge that best avoids and minimises adverse impacts on nature.
  • Achieve a minimum 20% net gain in biodiversity.
  • Achieve the highest levels of nature-friendly design.
  • Commit to decarbonising East West Rail.

Read our position statement and find out more

The public consultation closed on 9 June

Read our full response to the consultation

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