Suggested topics in letters to Anthony Browne MP

Rather than providing a standard template letter for sending to our MP Anthony Browne, we suggest that you write individual letters to him that express your concern. MPs and their researchers have found that an original letter sent by a committed, passionate constituent is far more powerful than a pile of identical letters.

We have provided a list of topics below that you may wish to consider in writing your letter. We do not suggest that you include more than a few of them and only those that you feel strongly about. Your own words would be much more influential than using ours.

If you wish to obtain more information about any of the topics, please contact us and we will try to help.


Option E is the wrong solution – all feasible alternative alignments have significant problems.

  • There are no clear benefits to the Option E area, just the real long-term threat of creeping urbanisation along the line
  • Use of diesel locomotives rather than electrification from the outset – noisy and environmentally damaging option when the government has committed to reducing UK’s carbon footprint.  It is also massively more expensive to upgrade later than incorporating during the construction phase
  • Permanent loss of peaceful and beautiful countryside, especially if cuttings are used in some areas
  • Noise, especially from freight trains at night. This is likely to travel long distances from railway lines on embankments over flat and open countryside
  • Possible closure of roads and footpaths – this could have a devastating effect on the area by dividing communities. While EWR have provided verbal assurance that closure of public rights of way and roads would be a “last resort”, they have not confirmed this in writing despite specially being asked to do so
  • EWR’s poor business case for Option E, including new housing development and freight not being included – see blogs on Cambridge Approaches website. Option not demonstrably better than the alternatives – e.g. into Cambridge North rather than a planned Cambridge South station
  • Adopting a Cambourne North station rather than current Cambourne South. This view is strongly supported by Cambourne Parish Council as it is more convenient for the current and planned location of housing
  • No explanation of how much freight is planned on this line and how it gets to Felixstowe – there may well be further upgrades of existing lines or new lines near Cambridge in addition to those in the Option E area
  • EWR’s lack of transparency. All of Cambridge Approaches Freedom of Information requests have been rejected on the last day of the statutory consultation periods, partly for apparently pedantic reasons. The last FOI request was written with legal advice. Insufficient information has been provided to justify their business case.
  • Lack of coordination of the route with the Local Plan. This is fundamental to have an effective, cost-efficient and joined-up transportation system in the region that serves areas where there is greatest demand. This is demonstrably not the case for a route in the Option E area – the route to Cambridge North best serves existing and planned housing developments.
  • Low level publicity about the project. Many residents of the area have told Cambridge Approaches that they were totally unaware of the project before we distributed leaflets a few weeks ago, despite EWR holding a public consultation in early 2019.
  • Impact on farming – the railway line may disrupt farming in the area not only by losing increasingly valuable farmland but severing farm tracks and causing extra pollution by requiring farm vehicles to travel increased distances to access their land. There are several environmentally sensitive farms in the area, especially near Barton, that may be severely affected by the project.
  • Impact on ecology, including cutting of foraging routes and possibly disrupting the life of the rare Barbestelle bats in the Wimpole and Eversden Woods.
  • Impact on MRAO activities. These impacts may be able to be mitigated depending on the proximity of the railway to active telescopes. You may think that disruption to MRAO’s activities is better than potentially running the line close to villages. Alternatively, you may believe that MRAO’s presence in the area has limited much development that would have otherwise occurred. As a compromise, it may be possible that MRAO could move their telescopes, as they did several years ago, to a less sensitive part of their site.
  • Greater use of tunnelling in difficult areas that would otherwise cause severe environmental damage


Call for Anthony Browne to lobby government and EWR:

  • to reject Option E
  • to investigate options that follow existing or planned transport corridors (e.g. A428 & M11) in accordance with the National Infrastructure Commission report (Partnering for Prosperity: A new deal for the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford Arc). These should include a route to Cambridge North rather than Cambridge South
  • to consider the environment to a greater extent than EWR are doing already, especially in their choice of whether to adopt an electrified line at the outset
  • to provide the public with clear and unambiguous information to back up their decisions, especially in terms of value-for-money of various alignment options and in fulfilling their environmental pledges.

Update from EWR Co.

AC7XAK Freightliner freight train, pulling out of the North rail freight terminal, Port of Felixstowe, Suffolk, UK.. Image shot 04/2007. Exact date unknown.

We received an update from the East West Rail Company today which reports on the conversations held with parish councils along the line of the route from Bedford to Cambridge. We also reported on this in a previous post for the sessions held in with parishes close to Cambridge in the Option E area. You can download EWR Co.’s full document below:

It’s a long document but highlights include some new material on the location of Cambourne Station on page 8 ..

“As mentioned, the exact location of new stations has not yet been decided, and we will be working with local authorities and other stakeholders to make sure the locations work for local communities.

We would be open to exploring the possibility of a station in the north of Cambourne.”

and aligning the route with the A428 see page 6 ..

“Specifically, on the A428, we are working with their [Highways England] team to see whether there is a practical way to bring the projects together being mindful that it is not as straightforward as it might seem at first – railways do not like hills or bends and the station stops might not fit well with the needs of road users. However, as mentioned, we will keep talking to our counterparts at the A428 and the other projects across the area to create not just the best rail system, but the best transport system we can.

As previously reported it seems EWR Co. are looking at a route similar to the one we described in this post. It’s nice to see this in a document put out by EWR Co. although there are no commitments yet.

Meanwhile let’s keep up the pressure to avoid the damaging routes in the option E area in favour of ones that work better with the local development plans. See the supporters menu for some ideas of what you can do.


Radio telescopes and discussions with MRAO

Richard Saunders from Cambridge University Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory (MRAO) spoke to David Revell from Cambridge Approaches on August 31 about discussions taking place between EWR and the MRAO. Richard said that the discussions were at a very early stage and were intended to help each side understand the other’s technical constraints and issues: they were definitely not at the ‘negotiating’ stage.

Richard mentioned that issues included the electro-magnetic interference from the side-to-side movement of the trains.

Line of sight issues (for example, depending on where a telescope may be pointing) are difficult to mitigate against. EWR had said that locally lowering the track would not be feasible due to the high water table and Richard said that raising the telescopes was not possible either. He said that the geographic bowl in which the telescopes sit is pretty unique in the UK and that electrical simulation tests would have to be undertaken to fully understand the impacts.

The extreme sensitivity of the MRAO equipment to vibration dictates that any mitigation against vibration of the telescopes from the trains would have to be exceptionally effective.

EWR were understood not to be totally averse to moving outside the Option E area if essential, or of providing tunnels per se but drainage of the tunnels would need an alternative to a pumped solution.

Richard was conscious of the need to minimise the environmental impact on the area by the railway, including noise, visual and ecological impacts.


Option E Webinars -Please Register

High Speed 1 Line

We published a map of alternative route alignments in EWR’s option E search area. These have been presented to representatives of about twelve local parish councils (Toft, Comberton, Barton, The Eversdens, Harlton, Haslingfield, Harston, Hauxton, Little Shelford, South Trumpington, Great Shelford), some district and county councillors and members of the public. The presentation and discussion has been at an on-going series of meetings, with the aim to reach some consensus about their relative merits and for subsequent presentation to other stakeholders including East West Rail. Note these are not the EWR route alignments, we expect those to appear in January 2021.

We would like to present these routes to interested members of the public and, given the Covid-19 situation, the best way is via webinar. As with the parish councils, the routes will be presented by David Revell of Cambridge Approaches who is a civil engineer with extensive experience with railways and a resident of the area.

The schedule of these webinars is as follows:

We expect the webinars to last about an hour and there will be opportunities to ask questions.

Please click on the links above to register for the webinar date that you would like to attend (the content will be the same in each webinar).

There is a limit to the number of people we can support on each webinar, so it may be good to register early.

*** UPDATE 4/10/2020 ***

If you missed the webinar you can view the presentation given yesterday on this link.

If you are concerned about the route that the railway may take through our area you can help generate awareness by print out this poster and putting it your front window.


Progress Update 2

View North from Money Hill, close to a Railway Cutting being Studied by EWR (see Alternative 3).

Since our last progress update the working group has had two further well attended meetings of the Cambridge Approaches Oversight Group with local parish councils from Toft to the Shelfords. These were to discuss the relative merits of the representative alternative route options presented here. The approach has been to develop an objective assessment of the impact on the different villages and to understand particular issues from each parish. The meeting on the 3rd September was a presentation by David Revell of the different routes. The meeting on the 10th September focussed largely on alternative route 1/1a and the issues as it passes south of Barton and close to the Trumpington Park and Ride area. The 10th September meeting was attended by a BBC journalist.

The meetings continue weekly.

The CA working group met with Bridget Smith the leader of the South Cambridgeshire District Council on the 9th September. She encouraged us to continue and explained various related activities related to the Oxford – Cambridge Arc. She confirmed that EWR will be a freight route from the Felixstowe to The Midlands. (Note that Felixstowe currently handles 48% of UK container traffic.). It emerged that Anthony Browne has come out publicly supporting an EWR station to the north of Cambourne. If this happens, it will have a profound impact on the route options through the option E area. We are actively researching this.

We have sent a second FOI request to EWR focussed entirely on getting the cost benefit analysis that underpinned the Option E decision. We have still not received answers to several outstanding questions, but EWR are saying that they are working on them.

What Can I Do?

If you are interested / concerned about the impact of the new railway as it approaches Cambridge here are some things you can do.

  • Tell your local friends and neighbours about it
  • Contact your parish, district and county councillors and express your views. Given the above process, now is a good time.
  • Write to your MP – Anthony Browne and do the same
  • Comment on this website so others can see your view or email us at, we will try to respond quickly.
  • ask questions directly to EWR on So far we have seen a 3 month delay in getting answers.
  • subscribe to updates to this site so that we can see the level of interest.
  • Two questions 1) would you be interested in a facebook discussion group? 2) would you be interested in a public webinar to explain the alternative routes in more detail?

FOI Response from East West Rail

See below the Response from EWR received at 7pm on 3th September exactly 20 working days after the relevant Cambridge Approaches Freedom of Information Request was sent. We are sad to report that EWR have not provided any substantive information on the grounds that it would be too much work to produce it. They also feel that it would not be in the public interest to disclose such information. Their letter, in full follows:

“Dear William Harrold, 


Thank you for writing to the team here at East West Rail with a request for information around our current proposals, received on 6 August 2020 (“Request“). We have handled your request in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the “Act“) and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (“EIR“). 

We are also aware of a further set of questions, some of which were discussed at online community events on 24 and 25 August. Thank you for the follow up email you sent after the events, which gave useful notes. As agreed, we will answer the letter in full separately. 

In relation to your Request, we’ve estimated that the cost of complying with it would exceed £450 which (under section 12 of the Act) is the limit above which public bodies are not obliged to provide information in response to requests. I have annexed the full text of this exemption for your information at the base of this letter. The full text of EIR regulation 12(4)(b) is also highlighted for your reference, which provides an exception for requests that are not reasonable (within the meaning of the EIR) such as those where significant or disproportionate costs would be incurred in handling them. 

The reason we can’t answer your requests within the cost limit is because of the significant volume of information requested. We would need to contact multiple officials and ask each of them to determine what relevant recorded information they hold, then to locate, retrieve and extract it. This work would certainly exceed 18 hours of staff time. 

We would also need to inspect every record manually in order to redact personal information and additional time would be required to separate environmental information from non- environmental information due to the mixed nature of your Request. This would entail a disproportionate and unreasonable burden in terms of costs and resources. 

Much of the information requested will be published in due course, but we believe that until the information is complete, it would be inappropriate and potentially misleading to publish it. For instance, survey results are likely to be reported as part of preliminary environmental information published as part of statutory consultation and a comprehensive environmental statement to accompany an application for a development consent order (“DCO“) under the Planning Act 2008. 

While we understand the general public interest in favour of disclosure of information, we consider that the public interest in this case lies in favour of not disclosing the information in response to your Request . 

Accordingly and for the reasons set out above, we are refusing your Request under section 12 of the Act and EIR regulation 12(4)(b). 

Your reference 


Our reference 

TPA/TPA/396550/3 3 September 2020 

You are more than welcome to send us a new, more specific request, and we will consider if that can be dealt with reasonably and within the Act costs limit. You could for example significantly reduce the amount of information that you are seeking to a level that is not as resource intensive by specifying and limiting the particular geographical area that is of interest to you. 

If you are unhappy with the way EWR Co has handled your Request or with the decisions made in relation to your Request you may ask for an internal review within two calendar months of the date of this letter by writing to:

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at: 

Information Commissioner’s Office Wycliffe House
Water Lane

Cheshire SK9 5AF 

Without prejudice to the comments above, we are keen to be as helpful as we can and have provided you with some additional information below in response to your Request that we hope will be useful. We hope these answers will help you to understand, to some degree, the extent of the work that would have been required in order to provide the information requested. 

1. Locations of all requested and executed surveys (structural, geotechnical, environmental, ecological, geological and otherwise in your leaflet entitled “What kind of surveys are happening at the moment?”) in and around the Option E area of the Central Section of the proposed Railway. Please redact any personal information like the names of the residents. Also the results so far of the surveys. 

You have asked for locations of all requested and executed surveys. This could mean: 

  1. Locations of all surveys requested and all surveys executed; 
  2. Locations of all surveys requested that have been completed. 

It is not clear from your Request which meaning was intended. 

We can confirm that we hold the results of the surveys that have been carried out to date in relation to the proposed new East West Rail line between Bedford and Cambridge. However, as we’ve explained above, the volume of information and the requirement for us to undertake significant redactions of personal information mean that EWR Co would need to incur excessive cost and resource to provide this information. 

In addition, the survey results represent only a part of an incomplete body of data. Again, we have taken the view that disclosure at this stage could be misleading. The data will be 


UKM/104992728.8 Continuation 2 3 September 2020 

completed and published in due course – both during the statutory consultation on the Scheme in advance of an application for a DCO and through the DCO environmental statement. 

2. Documentation of the underlying route trajectory options being evaluated and which are behind the choice of environmental survey sites. We are told that there are no route trajectory options yet. If this is the case, please send the justification for a more blanket approach to these surveys and explain why the surveys we are aware of are all in a straight line from Little Eversden, Harlton, south of Haslingfield and Harston – see locations/ 

EWR Co refers to the next level of refinement in designing the proposed new line between Bedford and Cambridge as selecting a preferred “route alignment” (you will recall that we have already selected a preferred route corridor and a preferred route option). This is what we have taken your reference to “route trajectory options” to mean. 

We can confirm that a number of potential route alignments are under active consideration at this time, but no final route alignment options have been decided upon. EWR Co’s work in this regard is on-going and the identification, description and consideration of those alignments is not complete. 

With respect to the extent of the surveys that we are undertaking, these are spread across the preferred route option area as well as other land outwith but near to the preferred route option area. This is because in many cases we need to survey a larger area in order to obtain information about how the environmental features or species we are studying behave – this is not always limited to the preferred route option area. For example, bat colonies outside the area may still use it for commuting or foraging. 


UKM/104992728.8 Continuation 3 3 September 2020 


We can confirm that EWR Co is or will be undertaking surveys beyond and in addition to the four areas listed in your Request. 

3. A copy of any communications between East West Rail and the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory or related organizations such as the Cavendish Astrophysics Group or the Institute of Astronomy or any organisation you are involved with discussion around planning constraints in relation to EWR and the Mullard Radio Observatory. 

We confirm that we hold correspondence between EWR Co and the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory and that discussions with the Observatory are on-going.
We’re not clear what you mean by “related organizations [sic]” and whether you are referring to: 

  • .  Planning constraints in relation to the proposed East West Rail project in general and planning constraints in relation to the Observatory; or 
  • .  Only those planning constraints in relation to the proposed East West Rail project that pertain to the Observatory. 

If you would kindly clarify the scope of your request this would enable us to confirm whether we hold the relevant information. 

i ii 

4. Communication between EWR Rail and landowners in the option E area. 

We can confirm that we hold this information. The scope of your request is extremely broad and the costs of providing copies of every item of correspondence would be disproportionate and excessive. EWR Co would also be required to redact significant quantities of personal data manually. 

We enclose a copy of the template letters that have been sent to landowners within the preferred route option area accompanying our requests to agree licence access for surveys and hope that this is of assistance. 

If there are particular landowners that are of interest then please let us know – this may enable us to provide more focussed information in response. 

5. Any documentation or communications held about the Eversden and Wimpole Woods is a SAC (European designation – Special Area of Conservation) for Barbastelles bats. 

We can confirm that we hold information relating to the identified SAC. Much of this information on SACs is already in the public domain and available to you. For example, you can use the interactive mapping feature at to obtain information on a particular SAC. 

If there is particular information that is of interest then please provide clarification so that we may confirm whether we hold it. 

6. Any documentation or communications on environmental, archaeological or historical constraints in the Option E area. 

We can confirm that we hold information relating to environmental and archaeological constraints in the preferred route option area. 

It is not clear whether your reference to “historical constraints” means heritage constraints (such as listed buildings, scheduled ancient monuments and so on) or historic constraints that are no longer in force or have been superseded. Please confirm which you mean so that we may confirm whether we hold the information in which you are interested. 

Information on environmental constraints is also available to you already at the following website: Details of historical and archaeological assets are also available from the local planning authority and from Historic England. 

7. A log of previous FOI requests and their contents (We already aware of 5 FOI requests from CamBedRailRoad) 

We can confirm that we maintain a log of requests made under the Act and the EIR. 

However, extracting the relevant information and redacting personal information would require a significant amount of manual processing and would entail disproportionate and unreasonable costs. 

Thank you for your continued interest in East West Rail, and we look forward to continuing to work together with local groups and community representatives as the project progresses. 


UKM/104992728.8 Continuation 4 3 September 2020 


If you have any questions about this response, please send them for my attention through the email. 

Yours Sincerely 

Roland George 

Company Secretary, East West Railway Company 


UKM/104992728.8 Continuation 5 3 September 2020 


Freedom of Information Act 2000 


12. — (1) Section 1(1) does not oblige a public authority to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying with the request would exceed the appropriate limit.
(2) Subsection (1) does not exempt the public authority from its obligation to comply with paragraph (a) of section 1(1) unless the estimated cost of complying with that paragraph alone would exceed the appropriate limit. 

(3) In subsections (1) and (2) “the appropriate limit” means such amount as may be prescribed, and different amounts may be prescribed in relation to different cases.[*]
(4) The Secretary of State may by regulations provide that, in such circumstances as may be prescribed, where two or more requests for information are made to a public authority-
(a) by one person, or
(b) by different persons who appear to the public authority to be acting in concert or in pursuance of a campaign,
the estimated cost of complying with any of the requests is to be taken to be the estimated total cost of complying with all of them. 

[*] The relevant Regulations which define the appropriate limit for section 12 purposes are The Freedom of Information and Data Protection (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulation 2004 SI 2004 No 3244. 

Environmental Information Regulations 2004 SI 2004 No 3391 

12(4) For the purposes of paragraph (1)(a), a public authority may refuse to disclose information to the extent that –
(b) the request for information is manifestly unreasonable 


UKM/104992728.8 Continuation 6 3 September 2020 “



Let’s Restart the Conversation

Sunset over the River Cam (Photo: Doug Thompson)

This post has been updated (19/10/2020) to include the details of the questions and answers from this session in spreadsheet form. The spreadsheet below shows the questions asked by the CA working group and representatives from parishes in the area (CA oversight group). We show the “substantive” answers the the EWR team sent us by email a few weeks after the event, but also the answers we received to some of the questions from careful notes taken during the meeting. There are some interesting differences, for example on question 14 the verbal answer given in the meeting is much more reassuring than the “substantive” answer after the meeting which completely removes the commitment to restore access to roads and rights of way cut by the railway – what are we to think?

East West Rail reached out to local villages in the Option E search area this week in an effort to re-engage with the parish councils with a video conference for Western Villages on Monday and with Eastern ones on Tuesday (24th and 25th August 2020 respectively). In both cases, after an initial presentation from EWR, the time was given over to Q&A and a discussion of how to work together.

Supported by Harston parish council, in the Tuesday session, Cambridge Approaches’ David Revell was given time to ask several questions. The main speakers from EWR in the Q&A session were Will Gallagher, strategy and Ian Parker, who is responsible for the design and implementation of the railway.

The main points we noted were as follows:

  1. EWR is willing to work with Cambridge Approaches – EWR want to propose how, regular meeting were suggested on our side.
  2. The alignment options inside the Option E search area, planned to be publicised by EWR in January 2021, will allow residents to see how close their houses might beto each option. They will just show the centre line of the alignment option with some indication of the engineering works involved.
  3. EWR confirmed that they are looking at an alignment option involving a cutting south of Haslingfield and pointing out that cuttings create an opportunity to mitigate the effects of noise. The visual impact of such a cutting was raised, but the conservation did not conclude on that point.
  4. Ian Parker said it was very unlikely that a tunnel would be part of the solution. The topography does not warrant it and the cost would be a consideration.
  5. EWR conversations with the MRAO are ongoing. Main issues are obstruction of line of sight of a telescope when pointing at 90 degrees and vibration effects from the railway. Given this is one or a small number of telescopes and the agreement might have a profound effect on the route alignment we asked if there had been any discussion of moving the telescopes. David Revell said that the balance is between the quality of life of around 20,000 residents every hour of every day for the life of the railway and the use of a telescope under limit case conditions. EWR said it had been treated as a constraint, but maybe they should consider that.
  6. Option E was the most expensive option in the Q1 2019 consultation – so why was it selected? EWR said that the costings had “matured” and that Option E had the best business case at the time of the decision which was endorsed by the Secretary of State (for transport i.e. Grant Shapps). We have asked for a copy of the business plan at the time of sign off.
  7. EWR are looking at routes crossing the Cambridge to King’s Cross line, because they see benefits in service level from doing so.
  8. It is almost certain that the route from Shepreth Junction into Cambridge will require an additional two tracks to the existing two tracks. If the EWR railway joins further south than that then they are looking at whether to increase the number of tracks.
  9. The EWR is unlikely to directly affect the Foxton level crossing.
  10. EWR have an obligation to maintain access on roads and rights of way that are crossed by the new railway. They are not keen to introduce new level crossing because of national policy on that.
  11. EWR will perform baseline environmental noise measurements, but this has not yet been done.
  12. The Option E decision is the preferred route option endorsed by the Secretary of State for Transport. EWR will continue to back-check the business case in the light of new information and will review the decision if something changes.
  13. EWR confirmed that there are alignment options in the area between the two mainlines (Little Shelford area).
  14. EWR explained the criteria for assessment, Ian Parker talked about 5 parts: Economic, strategic, finances/cost to build and the way it will be built (also called the management case. For the economics they compare cost of construction and operation with the benefits. EWR have been talking to the Department of Communities and Local Government about the potential for (housing) development in the area. They have taken account of plans to develop new settlements in the area and expanding existing settlements; we do take some credence of that in planning the route; it’s important that as many people as possible are able to use the service when it is delivered.
  15. The internal plan in EWR is to be ready for the second consultation in mid-January 2021. However, if the COVID situation at that time still prevents face to face consultation meetings, then it might be delayed for that reason. The Planning Application (DCO) is likely to be made in the middle of 2022, but they are looking at accelerate that so as to minimise the time of uncertainty.
  16. Although Cambridge Approaches were not present, we heard that on the Monday session EWR proposed that the last station to the west before Cambridge south would be south of Cambourne towards Caxton. Several speakers said they wanted it to the north of Cambourne.

Radio Coverage

The View North From Money Hill (Doug Thompson)

William Harrold from Cambridge Approaches will be interviewed by Dotty McLeod on her BBC Radio Cambridgeshire Breakfast Show on Tuesday 25th August at around 7.20am. Tune in to hear the interview!


Progress Update

Radio Telescopes at Lord’s Bridge (Photo: Doug Thompson)

Thanks to the many people that have responded to the receipt of our flyer. This has not yet been distributed to all the affected villages, but we are working on it. Thanks also to the volunteers who have delivered so many of them already. Haslingfield and Harlton have been done, Barton and Great Shelford are in progress.

We received many responses on expressing support for what we are doing. We have had expressions of surprise, anger, frustration, loss of sleep and sadness about the situation. Also there have been possible solutions for the best route.

We received several comments on the design of the flyer, most commonly – can we have a bigger version of the map? This map shows our view of possible route options. We are working on that and aim to put something on this site soon.

We met with Anthony Browne our local MP. He has been assured by East West Rail that they are working on a solution that will have minimal impact on residents (a figure of 20 houses was mentioned) and that it will run through the northern part of the Option E search area. There are no zero impact options. He also said that they intend to run Electric rather than Diesel trains due a change of policy from the new secretary of state for transport Grant Shapps. Let’s see if these statements are confirmed in writing by EWR. Anthony Browne said that a consultation from EWR with a detailed alignment proposal is expected early in 2021.

We sent a Freedom of Information request to EWR. They have confirmed that they are working on a response and expect to give it to us by 3rd September (which is the statutory 20 working days).

EWR have setup a meeting with Parish Councillors on the 25th August and we will attend that. Some additional questions have been tabled to them for that meeting. We understand that they also have a meeting with County Councillors on the 24th..


Cambridge Approaches Action Group

 AC7XAK Freightliner freight train, pulling out of the North rail freight terminal, Port of Felixstowe, Suffolk, UK.

(Taken from the upcoming September 2020 Haslingfield and Harlton Church and Village Article)


After the public consultation last year, East West Rail (EWR) decided in January this year to focus their attention on route ‘option E’ for the section of their new railway between Bedford and Cambridge. It is classed as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project and will form the busy central-section of the final East West Railway between East Anglia’s ports and the Midlands, serving fast growing towns along its route. Why the multi-modal corridor to the north proposed by CamBedRailRoad was not selected remains a mystery. ‘Option E’ is not a rail alignment but a corridor, several miles wide in places, through which the line will run. It includes Haslingfield and the outskirts of Harlton but also extends to Comberton and Barton in the north and Newton and The Shelfords in the east. EWR are currently carrying out further design and survey work to determine different line options which are planned to be used in a public consultation in 2021 before their selection of a preferred alignment. Construction is expected to start in 2025.

What to expect

What little detail we know about the alignment is given in the consultation response. EWR are funded by the tax-payer and we have submitted a Freedom of Information request to them to find out more. We know the line will connect with the Liverpool Street line near Great Shelford and that EWR have stated that they will avoid residential areas and reduce negative environmental impacts. We believe the line will avoid the radio telescopes (MRAO), forcing possible alignments towards the boundaries of the option E area. EWR have discussed exclusion distances with the MRAO but so far have not made this information public.

If the MRAO requirements are respected and the line goes to the north, it will pass close to Barton and then follow the M11 before crossing the A1301 in Great Shelford. Other options to the south would have much more of an impact on Harlton and Haslingfield in terms of noise, air quality and visual intrusion. It is very likely, given our knowledge of the location of surveys that EWR have requested and undertaken, that they are seriously considering an options skimming close to Haslingfield Road, Harlton, the top of Knapp Rise, School Lane and The Elms before passing just south of Harston.  Some minor roads and footpaths may be closed.

EWR’s diesel trains will be a mixture of passenger and freight with night-time operations. This will inevitably create more noise and air pollution, the extent of which would depend on the option chosen.

What we can do

We successfully stopped the Cemex waste incinerator 15 years ago, but this is potentially the biggest disruption to Haslingfield and Harlton for a generation and it is amazing to us how little local people are aware of it. Irreversible decisions will be taken soon.

We feel that the residents of the area should have an input into this decision-making process and now have agreement of the affected parishes to form an action group. The intention is also to work with EWR and other stakeholders in discussing alignment options and mitigating the impacts. We will generate our own options and, together, select one that is least damaging to the area. We will then lobby EWR to adopt this option in the hope of getting a better outcome for all. If we do not express our wishes at an early stage, the options may be restricted and residents will be presented with a fait accompli.

If you are interested in helping or finding out more, please subscribe free on  our website