News and Research

EWR Rejection Delivered to Rail Minister

Press Release

11th September, 2023

A declaration of opposition to East West Rail was delivered to Huw Merriman, Rail Minister, on Sept 6, 2023. This declaration was signed by elected officials across the region who represent 200,000 residents impacted by the EWR project. The rejection of EWR represents a significant shift in official opinion regarding the project and route proposal.

Local Representatives including MPs, parliamentary candidates , district, borough and county councillors parish councils and environmental and other campaign groups, have signed the declaration of opposition to the proposals for the East West Rail between Bedford and Cambridge. The final route together with some implications of its business case were announced by East West Rail Company in May this year.

As the list of signatories from the public increases daily, campaign groups BFARe and Cambridge Approaches say this declaration demonstrates growing and united opposition to the proposals.  The proposal includes large scale house building on green field sites significantly beyond existing Local Plans in order to justify the project.

The Declaration has been delivered in person to the Rail Minister, Huw Merriman. The Declaration and  the list of signatories (attached) includes Members of Parliament and Parliamentary Candidates, the Chairman of Cambridgeshire County Council, the Mayor of Bedford, County, District and Borough Councillors, Parishes and Parish Councillors, campaign groups and transport and environmental organisations. Hundreds of residents have also signed the declaration and the campaign groups are urging others to make their feelings known.

Click Images below for Full Declaration View

Mike Barlow, spokesperson for BFARe, which has been campaigning on behalf of Bedford Borough residents, said: “The diesel East West Railway is an inefficient and antiquated Victorian transport solution without merit for modern ecological East West travel.  Building a destructive greenfield railway, without a corresponding spatial transport plan, at taxpayer expense, without a credible business case must be called out as completely unacceptable for the residents whom purports to serve.

“The EWR proposal includes homebuilding well beyond that specified in the 2040 Local Plan.  Housing development in Bedfordshire is already 3.5 times higher than the national average.  Bedford simply does not have the facilities, the schools, the doctor’s surgeries and the supporting greenfield road networks to support the existing level of developments even without those proposed by East West Rail.”

Left to Right: Hugh Merriman, Sebastian Kindersley, William Harrold, Alan James, Anthony Browne

Campaigners argue the proposal does not include a spatial transport strategy for how people will access the two EWR stations between Bedford and Cambridge., which they say will force further cars onto the existing road network and add to town centre gridlock and pollution. Additionally, they say the EWR proposal does not provide a sensible solution for rail freight transport and instead will force rail freight through congested, highly-populated and already polluted town centres.

Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire, Richard Fuller, who has signed the declaration, said at a recent Westminster Hall debate: “The route chosen is so full of twists and turns and ups and downs, it surely competes with what is our country’s bendiest road.”

William Harrold, co-founder of Cambridge Approaches, commented: “EWRCo’s business case is poor even when supported by building new houses for 213,000 people, outside of any Local Plan. Of these new people,  only a tiny proportion are assumed to actually use the new railway. The roads would get much busier.”

Campaigners say precious grade two agricultural land between Cambridge and Bedford will be lost to this “housing sprawl” and believe East West Rail is just an excuse to build on lucrative greenfield sites.  The land set aside for biodiversity net gain will be in place, perhaps doubling the land area lost and further damaging our national food security.  

To sign the East West Rail Declaration of Opposition, please e-mail your name and first part of your post code to:  Where relevant, please include whether you are an elected official and the ward / district / parish you represent.

About Cambridge Approaches

Cambridge Approaches is a non-political campaign group founded in 2020 to challenge the EWR’s approach to Cambridge and the business case for building the Bedford to Cambridge section.

Cambridge Approaches believes campaign groups are strongest when information and work is shared with other groups and that local groups are most effective at mobilising their communities. CA has strong links with other campaign groups and Parish Councils. It exchanges information and engages with BFARe, BCN Wildlife Trusts, CPRE, CBRR, STARC, many local parish councils, village based groups and others.

About BFARe

BFARe is a non-political grassroots campaign. Our members and supporters are Bedford Borough Parish and Ward Councillors, and thousands of concerned Bedford Borough residents.  BFARe has over 1000 private campaign members and 15,000 social media followers. 


Cambridge Approaches Press Office

Phillip Phan (CA)

William Harrold (CA)

BFARe Press Office

Mike Barlow (BFARe)

Rachel Duke (BFARe)

Cambridge Approaches Limited is a not for profit company registered in England and Wales. Company Number:  13165368

BFARe is a Limited company. Company number: 13332104, Reg Address: Union House, 111 New Union Street, Coventry, West Midlands, CV1 2NT, United Kingdom.

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