Updated: Jun 14
Bedford Borough Labour Group is in agreement with the need for a new East West Rail Link. We strongly feel this must be electrified from the outset, and therefore provide a greener and joined up rail link for the future, allowing east west travel directly to main regional centres, providing greater north south connectivity along the route and reducing the number of vehicles on our roads.
We support the current four tracks being fully utilised and strongly oppose the demolition of homes.
We are concerned that the ‘need to sell scheme’ is woefully inadequate. We feel it must give far more consideration to the impact of demolition on nearby properties, which may not be earmarked for acquisition, but are nonetheless affected. The scheme should be made far more accessible and residents should not be required to provide extensive proof that their property cannot be sold when it is quite obvious that the plans have rendered any sales extremely unlikely for the foreseeable future.
All effort must be made to mitigate any environmental impact of construction, including noise, dust and vibrations. Any loss of trees or community garden must be compensated by replanting with mature specimens. Open spaces as designated in the Local Plan should be protected as should other urban open space.
Crucially it is up to the East West Rail Company to ensure they maintain regular contact with each and every affected resident. These updates should explain to residents and businesses in each affected area the nature, duration and impact of any planned works.
1) The Marston Vale Line (Bletchley to Bedford)
The Labour Group supports the creation of a new Stewartby Hardwick station to replace the current halts at Stewartby and Kempston Hardwick. Pedestrian and cycle access to this station should be integral.
This station will serve residents to the South of Bedford and reduce the number of cars accessing the Bedford Midland Station.
The Labour Group supports the replacement of level crossings with bridges and these must be accessible for all.
Residents living alongside the Bedford to Bletchley line in Kempston and in Bedford should be kept informed of the likely increase in the number of trains and the environmental impact should be mitigated.
2) St John’s Station
Bedford Borough Labour Group supports the relocation of this station to a site immediately adjacent to the hospital. This will use a brownfield site.
Cauldwell Ward Councillors have spoken with local residents who all prefer this option for the location.
This will improve access to the hospital for staff and patients, and improve connectivity with other hospitals in Oxford and Cambridge.
Residents in this area will benefit from direct access to the railway without having to travel into Midland Road. This will reduce traffic in the Prebend Street/Midland Road area.
Pedestrian links to the hospital site and cycle provision with secure storage and links to this station must be a priority.
The alternative suggested option of a station in the heart of a long established residential area with no room for car parking must no longer be considered.
3) Bedford Midland Station
The arrival of EWR offers Bedford the opportunity to become an important railway hub with East, West, North & South connectivity.
Fast Services to London by East Midlands Trains must be reintroduced.
The Labour Group believes the funding for an additional platform for fast trains must be provided by the Department for Transport so the new station is futureproofed. It makes sense for all this work to be undertaken at the same time.
Funding for road realignment and to improve the station area must also be provided by central government.
Links to the town centre, Riverside North and connectivity to the rest of the urban area by bus, taxi, cycle and foot must be part of this integrated travel hub.
The Labour Group would like to see much more detailed plans of the proposed new stations here and elsewhere in Bedford Borough.
Plans for the new Bedford Midland Station must show which properties in the Prebend Street/Midland Road/Ashburnham Road area will be affected. Communications with residents must be available in a range of languages.
This is a long overdue opportunity for investment and regeneration of this part of town, and should not be missed.
Pedestrian and cycle access directly into Queen’s Park must be integral to reduce traffic over Ford End Road Bridge.
The impact of these changes on Ford End Road Bridge should be given in more detail.
4) North of Bedford Midland Station (Poets Area)
The four tracks currently in use have plenty of capacity for additional trains, which has never been fully utilised. Therefore, Bedford Borough Labour Group does not believe the acquisition and demolition of properties in this area is necessary. We strongly oppose the demolition of homes and any further disruption to Bromham Road Bridge.
If EWR persist with their proposals for six tracks, we believe these could be constructed within a much smaller footprint than is currently suggested, meaning that many fewer properties would be affected.
EWR must directly engage with each and every resident in this area and keep them fully informed of the decisions it makes.
If acquisition of all or part of properties in this area is deemed necessary and unavoidable by EWR then compensation to residents must be fully and fairly offered without residents needing to seek costly legal assistance.
5) Fairhill to Clapham Green
Bedford Borough Council have developed an alternative proposal for this section of the route, which could allow the railway to pass under, rather than over, Paula Radcliffe Way, avoiding the need for an viaduct. This would also allow tunnelling under Carriage Drive rather than have the line run in a cutting Clapham Green to the East Coast Main Line (ECML). Bedford Borough Labour Group believes residents in this area should be fully consulted by EWR on their preference for either a viaduct or tunnel.
Bedford Borough Labour Group believes that if the Northern route is chosen, the railway should be constructed away from Wilden village with minimal environmental impact.
Bedford Borough Labour Group believes residents in this area should be fully consulted by EWR on their preference for either a viaduct or tunnel.