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East West Rail - Bedford to Cambridge and Western Improvements

East West Railway Company Limited (EWR) is proposing a Development Consent Order (DCO) for a new railway line between Bedford Station and Cambridge Station as well as other associated works to the railway network, which will be determined by the Secretary of State for Transport. The project will cover various electoral divisions across Cambridgeshire, particularly in the City of Cambridge, South Cambridgeshire, and Huntingdonshire.

The East West Rail project is formed of the following sections:

Western - Oxford to Bedford

Upgrades to existing railway between Oxford and Bicester. Reinstating a railway between Bicester and Bletchley. Refurbishing existing railway between Bletchley and Bedford. This section is currently in progress.

Central Section - Bedford to Cambridge

Brand new railway infrastructure. In development by EWR and the section that will be included in this DCO.

Eastern Section - Cambridge to Norwich and Ipswich

This is still in early development and not currently part of the EWR work – this is likely to be upgrades to existing rail infrastructure. 

East West Rail route preference map
Image source East West Rail website

The project falls into the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) process defined through the Planning Act 2008 (as amended), and will be considered under Part 3 Section 25 of the legislation because the proposed railway will be constructed wholly in England, be part of network approved operators route, is of a continuous route of more than 2 kilometres, and is not on operational land of a railway undertaker before construction work begins (see section 25(1) of the 2008 Act).

Responsibility for accepting and examining the NSIP application rests with the Secretary of State and not the local authorities, who are identified as statutory consultees, or ‘host’ authorities, in the NSIP process.

There are five ‘host’ authorities (Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Huntingdonshire District Council and Bedford Borough Council) involved in this NSIP project. All five ‘host’ planning authorities intend to work together as far as possible to ensure full scrutiny of this project is undertaken.

Have your say

It is important to note that as the ‘host’ planning authorities are not the determining authorities, any correspondence in relation to this matter needs to be directed to East West Railway Company Limited in the first instance and then the Planning Inspectorate.

For further details of the NSIP process for this project, please visit the Planning Inspectorate (PINS) website.

East West Rail – Bedford to Cambridge and Western Improvements proposals, including any consultation events being held, are available on the East West Rail website.


The project is currently at the pre-application stage. Details of EWR’s consultation will be updated on this webpage once they become available.

EWR have started issuing Land Interest Questionnaires to help them identify the people and organisations with legal interests in land that may be affected by their proposed Project. They have consolidated a list of frequently asked questions and answers on their website

Read more about the project on the Planning Inspectorate’s webpage for this project.