Susan van de Ven

Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Bassingbourn, Melbourn, Meldreth and Whaddon Learn more

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Freedom of Movement: Question Time for East West Rail

by Susan van de Ven on 16 February, 2019


The East West Rail consultation happening now suggests serious intent to proceed with some version of the final Bedford-Cambridge rail connection.  Without a doubt this stands to be the biggest infrastructure project to impact South Cambridgeshire for a generation, and Bassingbourn stands to be at the epicentre.   So please heed the ‘Have Your Say’ message that East West Rail have put through all our letter boxes before the March 11 consultation deadline.

The websites to consider are:

Official East West Rail:

More detailed maps of the route options, and an alternative northern route (‘which could still be argued for’ say East West Rail):

Route A through Bassingbourn is listed as the cheapest of the five official options.  Ultimately, it’s for the Treasury to write the cheque, so one can surmise that cheapest stands a good chance.

Here are some of the questions I’m asking – with a few bits of feedback from East West Rail included.

1. Will the new railway line connect or separate communities?

If Network Rail policy is to eliminate all level crossings and introduce no new ones, would the new railway line serve as a barrier running for many miles across South Cambridgeshire? No answer.

If any access and rights of way along the new rail line would be protected, on what scale and what type should be expected? Do these ‘mitigations’ figure in the Options estimates? ‘We don’t know’.

2. A new Bassingbourn Station?

Is the cost of a Bassingbourn Station worked into options A, C and D? No. A station is a possible feature of Options A, C and D but not definite.

What minimum level of new population would trigger a new station? Not clear. (A figure of 30,000 homes – equal to five Roystons – near a new Bassingbourn Station has been mooted.)

For a new significant population centre, has associated required new infrastructure (roads, schools, etc) been factored into any planning, and into cost estimates for the Bassingbourn Options? ‘Not at this stage.’

Would the current village of Bassingbourn-cum-Kneesworth be about equidistant from a new Basssingbourn Station and Royston Station? (The map would suggest so.)

Would a new Bassingbourn Station connect to the Royston and London service? No – it would run east-west, connecting to Bedford and Cambridge.

3. What will all this look like?

If a Bassingbourn station is factored into cost estimates, which it isn’t, 5th Studio shows a 1km long viaduct west of A1198. Total structure = 1km ramped embankment + 1 km viaduct + 1 km ramped Embankment = 3km. In the station’s absence, East West Rail might only build a 1km + 2 x 20m Bridge + 1km = 2.04 km. (East West Rail: Please provide 3-D imaging of rail line infrastructure for the length of each route Options in order to understand the impact of infrastructure on landscape and environment.)

4. Is Bassingbourn Barracks closure required for the Bassingbourn Options?

Are the three Bassingbourn Options contingent on the Barracks closing? Not worked out, but there’s no other obvious publicly owned land of the scale required. No confirmation from the MOD that closure of the Barracks is planned.

5. What principles underpin calculations for leveraging finance from new unplanned development to fund the Bassingbourn Options? No information.

6. Multi-modal transport corridors

If East West Rail follows National Infrastructure Commission guidance on the creation of multi-modal corridors, how would the Bassinbourn Options routes become multi-modal, and where would the funding come from? ‘A good question’.

7. Connections from a new Bassingbourn Station to Foxton, Shepreth, Meldreth, Royston and London King’s Cross/St Pancras Stations

Would the Bassingbourn route options connect to these Stations? No – the new service would run east-west, to Cambridge and Bedford.


Monday 25 February, 7PM, Elin Way Sheltered Housing Community Room, Meldreth: Meldreth Parish Council public meeting.

Tuesday 26 February, 2-6PM, Orwell Village Hall: East West Rail official consultation event.

Tuesday 26 February, 7:30PM, Shepreth Village Hall: CamBedRailRoad present their alternative proposal, still ‘not off the table’ say East West Rail.

Tuesday 5 March evening, Bassingbourn – time and venue will be posted at  Bassingbourn Parish Council regular meeting, devoted mostly to the East West Rail proposals.

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