East-West Rail identifies route alignments

DESIGN plans for an extension of the Oxford-Bicester route to Bletchley and Bedford were finalised and delivered to Parliament in 2018 to obtain the Transport and Works Order necessary for construction to begin.
This year will see the planning focus shift to the section of
East-West Rail (which aims to reopen the full length of the former ‘Varsity Line’) beyond Bedford to Cambridge, which provides a greater challenge because it is not possible to use all of the former track bed as a number of developments have been built on the trackbed since it closed in 1967.

The need to find an alternative route has resulted in East-West Rail providing five alternatives as part of a consultation process. All of the options will see a connection with the Hitchin-Cambridge line in the Foxton area, but there are two alternative corridors.
The first is the original route that operated via Sandy with platforms next to the East Coast Main Line, although the loss of much of the track bed towards Cambridge will result in the formation being built over a new alignment that would serve Bassingbourn, near Royston.

Read more in the March issue of Rail Express, on sale now.

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How the Varsity Line used to look before it closed in 1967, as a Derby Lightweight DMU calls at Bedford St Johns on June 9, 1966 with a Cambridge-Oxford service. Andrew Muckley

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Sam Hewitt