Route chosen for Central Section of East West Rail

Network Rail has selected the Bedford-Sandy-Cambridge corridor as its preferred route for the Central Section of the East West Rail project.

The preferred route was chosen from 20 options and will now be developed further with a view to producing a ‘line on a map’ route in May.

The East West Rail project aims to reinstate the Varsity Line, the name given to the railway which used to link Oxford and Cambridge.

Delivery of the line has been split into three sections. Part of the Western Section, between the new Oxford Parkway station and Bicester, has already been completed.

Erica Blamire, principal strategic planner for Network Rail said: “In reaching our decision on the Central Section we have assessed the benefits and costs of several potential broad corridors, with input from rail industry stakeholders and regional working groups, including the local authorities in the East West Rail Consortium and the Department for Transport.

“We’ve considered the station catchment areas for population and employment, operating costs, forecast passenger demand, demand for short and longer distance journeys, and the impact on reducing crowding on the London rail network.

“We’ve also considered the infrastructure needs, train service opportunities and wider impacts that the railway would have. This work has allowed us to reduce the 20 potential corridors which were originally identified down to this single corridor which the evidence indicates offers the best return on investment.”


    • You’re certainly optimistic this time round. The western section alone won’t be ready in two years.

      And what about routing the line into Bedford and Cambridge?

      • I believe it won’t be ready until it does get completed at around mid 2020 with 2 new stations in Cambridge (Addenbrookes for Addenbrookes Hospital and Chesterton for Cambridge Business Park) plus the Cambridge to Haverhill line which is to be completed by 2020 or 2021 if the go ahead next year to build a new railway line to Haverhill in Suffolk some 20 odd miles from Cambridge near the Suffolk-Essex Borders with the East-West Rail Link to operate new passenger services to Oxford and the West Country and Cotswolds as well freight trains to use the new line as it avoid London and to connect both Oxford and Cambridge with Milton Keynes for connection to West Coast Main Line in Bletchley and a new link line to connect onto the East Coast Main Line at Sandy and Midland Main Line at Bedford and also to connect onto the Great Western Main Line at Oxford.

      • But I can imagine that when the new East-Rail Rail Link does reopen then it will be the 1st ever Non-London railway link that goes from East of England (Ipswich, Norwich, Stansted Airport & Cambridge) to the West of England, the Southwest, Wales and the Cotswold’s and West Midlands (including Birmingham) via Oxford. Plus it will connect onto the Midland Main Line at Bedford and possibly a new chord link connecting onto the East Coast Main Line at Sandy and a link to connect onto the West Coast Main Line at Bletchley near Milton Keynes.


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