Route Alignments

EWR’s Possible Rail Routes

What happens if we do nothing?

**** For people new to this website: Cambridge Approaches favours a northern approach to Cambridge. Routes in this post are showing what might happen if we don’t do anything. They are not routes that are endorsed by Cambridge Approaches. ***

We have analysed potential routes that EWR could take within their Option E’ corridor and those are explored above. None of these options are favoured by Cambridge Approaches but does show what the impact on communities within the route alignment.

At the time of writing, these options are under review by local parish councils forming the Cambridge Approaches Oversight Group at a series of meetings including the Cambridge Approaches Working Group.

EWR’s options, which they intend to issue in Q1 in 2021, may differ from those shown.

We invite comments below.

You can download the map here.

23 replies on “EWR’s Possible Rail Routes”

Many thanks for posting this – I saw something similar on the paper flyer for Cambridge Approaches. Would it be possible to share a higher resolution image?
Has EWR published any alignment options yet i.e. within the band of Option E?

EWR have not published any alignment options, but they expect to in the mid January 2021 consultation. What we know of their thinking is in the post called “Let’s restart the conversation”.

I have added a link so that you can download the map, hopefully that will help you re-size it.

Prashant get in touch , I’ve blown the map up! You’ve got a English heritage site , adjacent to the Westfield cottage track ,alough it’s not marked in yellow .the plans show route through this area .ie almost adjacent to mill area .

What about an option for the route to go further South over the arable field between Barrington and Haslingfield, joining up with the current Barrington quarry track or alternatively aligning with the Rail line at Foxton, making another platform there so local residents could actually catch this train and benefit from the line. It could then progress to Shelford to align with the Liverpool Street line. This would then create the bridge or tunnel option for the A10, removing the crossing and it would align with CCC plan for Foxton having a ‘transport hub’.

EWR are not considering a route linking up with the Cemex line because (1) it is outside the area they have already defined for the final route (2) it would mean tunnelling beneath Chapel Hill which they have effectively ruled out and (3) it would result in a much longer overall route which they want to avoid.

Angela, although a great supporter of EWR, I do agree absolutely with your routing suggestion: it was very much my OS scrutiny option before any official maps were published. That said I did not expect Cambourn to be included, purely because of the acuteness of curve then required to reach King’s Cross route and a tenable connecting place. On all other counts not to include Cambpurn would be daft.

Have you a detailed map showing the route of the proposed East West Rail through or via the village of Toft? Toft is at the edge of your map.

Sorry Maree, we are just a group of volunteers and have not done the analysis as far west as Toft. However, the option E search area is quite narrow near Toft, so it will clearly go close if EWR respect their search boundaries. I would not count on it, but there is some lobbying to move the Cambourne station to the north of Cambourne in which case the route would be outside the Option E area and well to the north of Toft.

If I were planning a rail route from Cambourne to Cambridge, I’d have thought following the North side of the A428 / A14, turning right at Milton, would make the most sense. Pull slightly away from the road and tunnel under the roundabouts at each junction. Land is already owned by Highways, extra noise will be negligible compared with road traffic, it’s a much more direct route, and avoids clogging up the track south of Cambridge on the busy route to London. Heading down towards Haslingfield and back up again adds nearly 50% to the distance – i.e. increased building and running costs – and all the proposed routes would incur significant costs from land purchase, rerouting roads etc. I appreciate tunnels are expensive, but I’d be surprised if it’s not the cost efficient option at least in the longer term.

Thanks for the link! I’ll admit I’m a little late to the party on this one. Going a little further North to include the large new developments at Northstowe and Waterbeach also seems like a sensible option. I too would be interested to hear what the technical difficulties are, particularly if the options stretch from the A14 right up to Longstanton. The land is a bit lower lying and potentially boggy, but otherwise I can’t see anything immediately problematic.

Has anyone tried to reach out to Robert Mair yet for his thoughts? And it may be worth liasing with the Astrophysicists too, as they obviously have a strong vested interest

I cannot understand why the routes do not follow the A428 into North Cambridge and the massive development between Madingley and Huntingdon Roads. There are rail links south already and these plans don’t help to service the need in the North. Also I’ve they are dualling the A428 would it not be sensible for both constructions to run along side? I suspect vested interests as ever and hold out no hope that common sense will prevail.

To me it’s looking more and more like they are coming through our property in Comberton Road. We now have to wait to find out if they are, or if they will be coming extremely close. It’s very hard as our lives are now put on hold, we can’t move forward with things we need to do until they announce their decisions. I expect there’s a lot of people feeling like this.

Hi Helen. We are in a similar position in Caldecote (old village), where the route is seen as cutting through the village, and potentially through my land. We are obviously keen on fighting this – not purely in a NIMBY way, but because this is obviously a bad option verses the A428 corridor option. Where the Great Cambridge Partnership is focusing on getting more commuters onto public transport it seems crazy not to align the line to the major growth villages and towns.

Every sympathy Helen. You are right many people are feeling the same.

After 25 years of various publicly funded bodies (directly or indirectly), this is the best that could be achieved to date, meanwhile they have all been feeding at the trough, the history of EWR is too long to list here. However I say to all reading this , contrast Oxfordshire County Council’s approach to the Evergreen Project and protection of closed rail routes along with the successful first stage of the EWRL opening, to that of Cambridgeshire County Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council’s efforts.

The good and the great have established the current route options, which may not be the final ones of course, in essence to avoid places where they have interests or strong political support. Behind the scenes meetings and discussions have been going on for years. In desperation the delivery company was formed and given extensive powers, because our local elected representatives could not agree, while several major errors on transport matters were implemented, making a final route much harder. Were delaying tactics were employed I wonder sometimes?

The route to the North, of the 5 on the latest map, is the least worst option. However it passes through the exclusion zone and will still upset a number of people. It does however follow closely to the M11 for some of the route.

I maintain that if ANY of these 5 are selected, tunnelling will be necessary perhaps for five miles or so. The first part of the old Varsity LIne out of Cambridge, currently occupied by the “Guided Bus” and now a fabulous park, with Cambridge South station at the junction of the two lines, could be still possible. However this obvious option has been made much harder now. If anybody is interested take a look at Rail Futures extensive archive of the East West route to bring yourselves up to speed on this sorry saga.

Is this the best you can all do after 25 years? Are you ashamed of yourselves? Thought not.

As James points out, the Northern approach to Cambridge (that detailed in the excellent proposal by CamBedRailRoad) has so much going for it, one cannot help but question why it is not being pursued. It follows an existing transport corridor, has the potential to benefit the large developments to the north, to be integrated into the proposed Cambridge Autonomous Metro (or whatever it turns out to be) as well as avoiding the need to widen the track south of Cambridge station. The southern route on the other hand, will be of no benefit to any residents through which it passes as no stations or are planned between Cambourne and Cambridge.

David King explains the various southern access options, but it appears from the Cambridge Approaches route(s) map that any of the options being pursued to the south will be inside the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory exclusion zone. I assume this zone is important for technical reasons, (interference, vibration etc) so why is the southern route being promoted at all? If the location of the observatory is so important why could it not be relocated to a part of the country where these sort of issues do not exist? Proximity to a large and growing conurbation must cause problems in any case. The railway could then follow the original route of the Varsity line, through the park and ride at Trumpington and into Cambridge along the old route currently used by the busway. This avoids densely populated areas and avoids any of the contentious conflicts that are beginning to show, and that East West rail are now finding out.
No doubt someone will explain why this is not possible. It is of course land owned by the University/Colleges. Perhaps that is the clue.

@Steve, the other curious thing about the CamBedRailRoad proposal is why it was not a consultation option. One of the reasons I have heard is that Freight would have to turn around to join the line going on to Newmarket. However, CBRR added a very small chord across the corner of Coldham’s Common to address that point. It’s shorter, it’s where the new towns will be, surely the business case is better than option E. Remember Option E was the most expensive option at the time of the last consultation. EWR say at the time of their decision it had the best business case. That is why Cambridge Approaches have asked for that Business Case in our second FOI request – we need to understand the Option E decision.

What is the telescope exclusion zone ? All of the route options pass through it so it clearly isn’t an exclusion for the rail options.

Under local planning rules, the University has to be consulted if a proposal falls inside the Lord’s Bridge Exclusion Zone (see the South Cambridgeshire Local Plan). EWR have had technical meetings with the University, but the University describe the dialogue as at an early stage. However, the EWR project was classified as a nationally significant infrastructure project in 2019, which means that it does not have to respect local planning rules.

As someone bred, born raised and resident in Haslingfield for over 50
years, and can recall trains on the Bedford line via Lord’s Bridge, I’ve followed reports on the village website. Yes I live in France, following
NHS advice. My working life was built around exports, I served on the national council of the Institute of Export.
Given the current climate of uncertainty and indecision consideration
ought to be given to the following:
1) The line is to serve,essentially, Felixstowe and container traffic from
exporters and importers. European traffic is routed cross- channel
in the majority of cases using road or rail. Brexit and its ramifications
will impact on movements. Seaborne traffic will originate from
long haul sources such as Asia and the Americas, arriving at
Felixstowe. A Brexit promise was an abundance of trade deals free
from EU. It seems to date these deals are like pipedreams.
Do the proponents of the new line have knowledge of these deals and
the increased demand for rail freight to substantiate such a line?

2) Interesting to read a comment vis-a-vis Foxton and the Barrington
connection to the former cement works. Having seen on the
Haslingfield website the SCDC’s clean and green ideas I’ve put
forward some thoughts on the matter. To date no response.
Brexit should also be seen as scuppering possibilities for support
from Brussels.

Just taken part in the webinar and discovered that the routes into Cambridge being suggested almost all cross the rugby field in Great Shelford and will require demolishing houses and blighting many more. Also the proposed route would no doubt crash through Scotsdales too. Not sure why no one is looking at routes that avoid ploughing through housing.

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