Smarter Cambridge Transport

Response to East West Rail consultation

This consultation response from Smarter Cambridge Transport offers ideas and commentary on the proposed route alignment for the central section of East West Rail, focused on the part between Cambridge and Cambourne.


  • Electrification
  • Alignment of southern approach
  • Cambourne station
  • Comberton
  • Cambridge South station
  • Cambridge station
  • Northern alignment
  • Eastern section
  • Demand modelling
  • Enhanced local connectivity
  • Long-distance journeys
  • Future consultation
  • Assessment factors

Read the consultation response here:

Smarter Cambridge Transport


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  • There seems to be confusion about the 2 London Cambridge lines. The report references the West Anglia Main Line joining the EWR around Harston. The WAML is the Liverpool street line, not the Kings Cross line which is the one running past Harston.

  • You say that road connectivity on the south side of Cambourne is poor, but make no comment at all about access to a station for Cambourne north of the A428. So how do you think that people will access a station there? People coming from points north would have to drive via minor, rural roads through villages such as Elsworth, Knapwell and Boxworth, while even EWR recognise that many people living in Cambourne are likely to get in their cars to get to a station north of the A428. These rural roads are poorly maintained and, just like the villages they pass through, most certainly are not designed to take heavy traffic and large vehicles. For those coming from other directions, access roads would have to be built. So why do you not mention this?

    There is no doubt that a station north of the 428 will lead to housing development. But this will be no outgrowth of Cambourne (from which it would be separated by a 4 lane trunk road and a rail line), but a new town at least the size of Northstowe. 640 hectares and counting (compared to the 90 hectares of Cambourne country park most of which would remain untouched). This would be a rehash of the proposal made in 2017 as an alternative to the Bourn Airfield development (at that time it was being called ‘Harbourne’) and which was panned by the Planning Inspectorate. New sites to the west and south of Cambourne have come forward in the Call for Sites to which access to a Cambourne South station would be practicable by walking or cycling. For those coming from other directions the A428 and A1198 provide more direct access to a southern station.

    You talk vaguely of creating “developable land” and a “more sustainable northward expansion of Cambourne”. It might be a glint in the eye of Cambourne Town Council, but what is sustainable about coming north of the 428? You make no mention of the environmental and ecological impact. There would be little room left for greenspaces after you’ve built 10k houses, let alone as many as 25k (see SCDC Cabinet meeting on 25 May), a travel hub, vehicle parking, industrial units, new access roads, train sidings, etc. The danger that villages will be engulfed by this development is very real – the boundary of the land on which the developers have options is less than one mile from Elsworth, while it would completely will surround Knapwell on three sides. The railway has to be paid for by housing so the Local Plan will be largely irrelevant if the Government appoints a Development Corporation to oversee matters.

    The business case for EWR needs looking at urgently. What impact will the dualling of the A428 from the Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet have on car travel, particularly with more electric vehicles coming onto the roads? What about the projected decrease in the numbers of people commuting as a result of covid? What about all the people who don’t commute to Cambridge? A rail line only goes from A to B after all (and in EWR’s case neither the northern nor the southern approaches take anything like a reasonably straight line). A reappraisal is needed badly.