This is a National Infrastructure Project with clear Central Government support which is intended to facilitate east-west travel and to bring economic benefits to the area between Oxford and Cambridge (the “Oxford-Cambridge Arc”).
This is a National Infrastructure Project with clear Central Government support which is intended to facilitate east-west travel and to bring economic benefits to the area between Oxford and Cambridge (the “Oxford-Cambridge Arc”). The sections between Oxford and Bicester, between Bletchley and Bedford, between Cambridge and Norwich and between Cambridge and Ipswich are all in use, though not operated or badged as East-West Rail. Between Bicester and Bletchley, the old trackbed has been preserved and will be reinstated. This leaves Bedford to Cambridge as the only stretch where the line will traverse ‘virgin’ territory.
A company – East West Rail Company Ltd – has been set up to plan the project and oversee its delivery. For brevity we use EWR to refer to both the line and the company in this document.
EWR undertook a non-statutory consultation which resulted in the “Option E” corridor being chosen in January 2020 as the route between Bedford and Cambridge. Option E serves Cambourne and approaches Cambridge from the south.
According to EWR’s Preferred Route Option Report from January 2020: the Option E route alignment line will “connect to the West Anglia Main Line at/around Shepreth [Branch] Junction near Great Shelford, possibly after first connecting to the existing Hitchin-Cambridge line.” In other words, all variants of Option E will run through Great Shelford.
In April 2021, the preferred route option was published. Please see Consultation section below.
- EWR has published preferred routes and commenced consultation on these. The Bedford to Cambridge section is proposed to come through Great Shelford using the Kings Cross line.
- The organisation CamBedRailRoad (CBRR) has proposed a route from Cambourne following the A428 corridor and then approaching Cambridge from the north via a station at Northstowe and the existing Cambridge North station. We refer to this as “the northern route” below.
- The CBRR route is supported by local action groups, including one in the Shelfords.
- Anthony Browne MP is in favour of obliging EWR to re-examine and consult on the northern route.
- In the event that EWR refuses to fully examine this northern route, the Cambridge Approaches group intends to launch a legal effort to force a Judicial Review and this action is supported by GSPC and other local parishes.
Two information and consultation events have been held to date:
- An open meeting hosted by the Parish Council and including Anthony Browne MP, in December 2020
- An extraordinary Parish Council meeting in January 2021 considered available information relating EWR’s detailed route alignment.
Route alignments have been announced by EWR (April 2021) and public consultation online and via online events was held between April and June 2021.
Great Shelford Parish Council takes issue with the Option E route corridor being selected without proper consideration of the alternatives and believes that EWR should undertake analysis and full public consultation on a northern route.
GSPC notes the cumulative impact of current infrastructure projects in our locality.
All route options through Great Shelford will have a net detrimental impact on the village.
GSPC has adopted a communications policy with regard to this project (link) and has written to EWR after publication of the preferred routes requesting far greater levels of engagement and confirming the Council’s strong opinion that a Northern approach should be reconsidered and consulted upon in equivalent detail to the current preferred option of a southern approach to Cambridge.
GSPC will engage fully in 2021 consultation and will publish details of consultation opportunities for the public. Please see Consultation section.
GSPC representatives have met with Anthony Browne MP, twice on site to explain the local impact of EWR and other projects and continue to engage with EWR and relevant organisations and individuals.
Communications Policy re. EWR
Great Shelford Parish Council will:
- Publish EWR’s preferred route alignment(s) and any further proposals on the council’s website and notice boards as soon as it is available.
- Explain the council’s position to the district and county council, the Mayor, the Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority, our local MP, and candidates for the forthcoming local elections and solicit their support.
- Work with Cambridge Approaches to ensure that if it is necessary to spend money pledged to them, this is done wisely and to the greatest effect.
- Inform residents of the GSPC position and provide links to the EWR, Cambridge Approaches and CamBedRailRoad websites.
- Engage with the media to present our position.The Chair of the Parish Council will coordinate these actions and will act as spokesperson for the parish council on EWR matters.
Key Points leading to GSPC’s Position
- GSPC believes it has not been consulted effectively by EWR on this project but did have a useful meeting in February 2021 from which we hope a more open communication channel will develop.
- At present the line is planned as non-electrified. This means that unless new sources of traction power emerge, EWR trains will be diesel-powered, with the attendant noise and particulate pollution.
- It is not yet certain whether the line will be freight-compatible, and this is not EWR’s decision. However, as it features in Network Rail’s freight strategy, we should envisage that the line will carry freight, and because of the loading on the lines around Cambridge, it is likely to run at night.
- As things stand, none of the possible routes within option E brings any benefit to the village. This imbalance between benefits and disadvantages has led GSPC to oppose option E and support a new review and full public consultation of the northern route.