Now it’s time to send responses to the East-West Rail consultation
This is the big one!
The deadline is this Wednesday 9 June. Don’t leave it too late.
You can email your views to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you email direct, tell them you are responding to the consultation.
Or you could fill in parts of the form at https://communityhub.eastwestrail.co.uk/
You don’t have to answer every question.
Whichever you do please use your own words. This is important. A lot of copying will be ignored. And, of course, democracy relies on our participation, so if you don't agree, take part anyway.
Please tell them there’s plenty of space for a new station building if sited nearer Midland Road. They don’t need to demolish any of the houses or flats at 8-20 Ashburnham Road (questions 33 and 36). They should also add a fast line southbound platform (it can be built on the site of the existing ‘platform loop’ to the north of platform 3)(question 36).
Please say they shouldn’t plan to demolish people’s homes north of Bromham Road (or anywhere) just to make it convenient to build and operate the railway (question 37). Bedford Borough council have shown that four tracks under Bromham Road are enough if there is a fast line platform. Adding that platform removes the risk that delays on one route could spread to another. Even if they decide on more than four tracks, extra tracks shouldn’t take up more than 11.5m width (there’s already about 12m railway land to the east of current rails). Similarly, the proposed rebuilding of Bromham Road Bridge (again!) is unnecessary and will cause unnecessary disruption to so many.
Please tell them that it is not OK to build the railway without it being electrified from day one (question 2).
When they ask about Bedford St Johns (questions 34/35), please tell them St Johns station should be close to the current location/hospital where it is useful as an end point for journeys and where it can link better to bus services. I.e. a location like the "Alignment 1 search area", not the "Alignment 2 search area", which is nowhere near bus routes.
On the route north out of Bedford, tell them to build the line under Paula Ratcliffe Way, and tunnel under Carriage Drive (question 37 and 39). They should build wildlife corridors into the route (tunnels and green bridges). Planting native trees and putting in Sustainable Drainage Systems are essential (questions 39, 40, 41). An independent expert must be funded to identify solutions for impact on wildlife. Field verges should also be kept whenever possible because they have more biodiversity.
We’ll now suggest answers to some of the questions in question order:
On question 2 about the train service, there should be lower fares (and lower turn-up-and-go fares). Tickets to a town should always include use of buses in that town as part of the fare. Trains at all times should carry full-size cycles.
The answer about “net zero carbon ambitions” is to build EWR with overhead line electrification from the start. They should only buy electricity from producers who supply 100% renewable electricity (not dirty energy and “Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin”).
For question 3. Station experience, they should design all stations so there are good connections with bus, cycling and walking networks. This should include all the new stations on the Marston Vale route (but not just them): bus stops and cycle storage facilities should be close and easy to access. Routes between bus stops and station entrances should be covered walkways along the entire route. There should be toilets at every station.
Question 4: What on-train experience(s) might encourage customers to switch to rail…?
Key things to ask for are seats with tables and power sockets, and for wifi. Seats need enough padding. Toilets must be kept clean. We need on-train staff for security and safety. To encourage people to switch to rail, there must be space for full-size bikes (cycles), including at peak times.
On sustainability, the single biggest factor is to provide electric power for the engines from overhead wires (with contracts for electricity supply from producers who supply 100% renewable electricity, not dirty energy and REGOs). Anything else will have a much smaller impact.
Question 11: please support option 2. Faster trains will be much more used.
Question 33: no demolitions either at Ashburnham Road or north of Bromham Road. Build the new station building closer to Midland Road and a fast line southbound platform.
Questions 34/35: Option 1 because it will be closer to the hospital and better for bus routes.
Question 36: no demolitions, a fast line southbound platform on the site of the existing ‘platform loop’ to the north of platform 3.
Question 37: don’t demolish people’s homes north of Bromham Road (or anywhere) just to make it convenient to build and run the railway. Four tracks under Bromham Road are enough if there is a fast line platform (and 11.5m width would be enough for two extra tracks anyway). Don't close Bromham Road to rebuild it again.
Design the line to go under the Clapham bypass.
Question 39: tunnel under Carriage Drive.
Questions 39, 40, 41: Build wildlife corridors (tunnels and green bridges) and install Sustainable Drainage Systems. Fund an independent expert to identify solutions for impacts on wildlife. Plant native trees. Avoid disturbing field margins, because they have more biodiversity.
Bridges, viaducts and stations should be made of recycled steel. Viaducts must have sound insulation and vibration damping to make sure there’s very low noise heard nearby so a steel one won't be noisier than one of made of concrete.
Compensation for Residents and Prevention of “Blight”
People living in rented homes threatened with demolition need help and support. They should be provided with suitable replacement rental homes on terms at least as good as their current agreement. EWR should also cover their relocation costs.
For home owners, the ‘Need to Sell Scheme’ should be open to all home owners where some (or all) of their property might be compulsorily purchased. They should be able to apply without showing that they need to move sooner, and without showing that they haven’t been able to sell. Compensation should be at least as much as offered by HS2.
Thanks for sending any response!
Ben Foley & Lucy Bywater
Councillors for Castle Ward, Bedford (a ward that includes many properties threatened with demolition)
P.S. Just a quick email to email@example.com by the end of Wednesday (9 June) saying some key points is better than putting it off until it's too late. Please send your response now!