East West Rail campaign

Timeline update


The East West Rail Consultation ended on 9 June 2021. 

An independent company is now analysing the 9,800+ consultation responses that were received, and teams across EWR Co are busy considering each and every one of the 190,000+ comments they received.


They will publish a summary of all the consultation responses and set out how they have used this feedback as soon as they can – they aim to do this later in 2021.

They have now held two non-statutory consultations. In 2022 they will present the next stage of detailed proposals and ask your views once more, as part of a statutory consultation.

In 2023, having considered all the representations that are made to them, they expect to apply for permission to build the railway in what is known as a Development Consent Order (DCO).

Posted Aug 22 21

East West Rail update 

East West Rail (EWR) is a major new railway connecting Oxford and Cambridge. Routed appropriately, EWR might deliver important benefits to Cambridgeshire but unfortunately, the proposed route alignment for the central section from Bedford to Cambridge, and the manner in which it has been developed, are causing serious concern within Great Shelford and other affected parishes.

A consultation covering the section from Bedford to Cambridge ran until 9 June. The Shelfords EWR Action Group has carefully examined many hundreds of pages of consultation documents in order to provide this summary of the project’s potential impact on Great Shelford.  

Changes to the railway in Great Shelford

The new line will run through the Shelfords on what is known locally as the Kings Cross Line (EWR refers to this as the Shepreth Branch Royston line) before merging with the Liverpool Street Line (formally called the West Anglian Main Line) in Great Shelford. EWR has stated that this junction, located to the west of Granham’s Road and known for historical reasons as Shepreth Branch Junction, will need to be rebuilt to accommodate the additional trains.  This may require the King’s Cross line to cross the Liverpool Street line on a bridge, before the four tracks merge and run side-by-side into Cambridge Station. Technically, this is known as a grade-separated junction because the railways cross at different heights.

Assuming this happens, the impact on Great Shelford will be significant. The bridge structure is expected to be many hundreds of metres long (perhaps over a kilometre) and several metres high – roughly the height of the current footbridge across the railway.  The new structure may be located south of Addenbrooke’s Road bridge as that is where there is most space (see photos), but EWR does not say.

Whether you live facing the fields or you walk or cycle on the DNA path, today there are beautiful views across the fields towards White Hill. A bridge would obstruct the view. And imagine the noise from the trains on that bridge or the ugliness of acoustic barriers.

The Action Group is also concerned about freight. The tracks will be built to handle freight (though no-one knows how much) and freight trains run on diesel. We have a peaceful village. Imagine trying to sleep if diesel trains are running through the village and over a bridge at night in addition to the pollution they would bring.

Other layouts are possible, some with less potential to cause harm to Great Shelford (for example a flat junction at Shepreth Branch Junction), but considering the evidence, a bridge is likely to be EWR’s preferred option. As part of the consultation, EWR is asking what it should consider when designing the new layout.

At present, only two tracks run into Cambridge, but this will become four tracks under the new layout. To accommodate the widened railway, the DNA cycle path running alongside the current tracks will probably need to be moved.  EWR has said that the link will be maintained but does not say whether the wonderful artwork will be reinstated.

Closure of Little Shelford level crossing

EWR is considering permanently closing Hauxton Road at the location of the current level crossing, which would have significant impact on Great Shelford. Hauxton residents often come to Great Shelford to use the amenities, which means they would be forced into a diversion and they may stop coming altogether.  There will be reciprocal challenges for residents of the Shelfords. And imagine what this will mean for children trying to get to school and for the traffic on Church Street and the High Street.  

Harston to Little Shelford

A new grade-separated junction at the southern end of Harston is proposed to connect EWR to the Kings Cross Line. This junction will be a 10m tall flyover, sweeping around from the north to merge just south of Hauxton. Because the railway will be moved from its current alignment, a new bridge over the railway will be required at London Road and a new road layout is planned for the junction with Shelford Road.


EWR is also considering permanent closure of Newton Road in Harston at the level crossing, resulting in significant impact on local residents including cutting off the route to Harston Primary School for Newton residents.  EWR is suggesting significant new road layout to mitigate this, but local residents will be highly impacted.

Harlton to Little Shelford

An imposing “great wall” across the Rhee (Cam) Valley will most likely be built. It will comprise stretches of 10 metre high and 1,800 metre long embankments and 330 metre viaducts carrying the railway from Harlton to Harston, including a 17 metre deep cutting at Chapel Hill in Haslingfield.



East West Rail and how Great Shelford may be impacted


The new East West Rail from Oxford to Cambridge could run through Great and Little Shelford.


Proposals published on March 31 revealed that the new Oxford to Cambridge line could lead to a bridge or flyover where it meets with the Liverpool Street line in Great Shelford.


 The consultation document includes a number of proposals affecting the Shelfords;

  • An additional two tracks in some areas to create four tracks on the West Anglia Main Line between the Shepreth Branch Junction in Great Shelford and Cambridge station with potential significant construction disruption to Great Shelford from four tracking the line

  • Modifications to the Shepreth Branch Junction either on level ground, or with bridges and flyovers

  • The Addenbrooke’s to Great Shelford Cycleway may have to be moved from its current location, but the link would be maintained

  • Improving or closing the level crossing at Hauxton Road, Little Shelford

  • A new railway junction near Harston and Hauxton.

  • The proposed new route would also go through Chapel Hill in Haslingfield, one of the most beautiful spots in Cambridgeshire and a favourite of many cyclists. 

If the proposals go ahead, it will mean more trains using the existing trainline through Great and Little Shelford.


Regarding the Shepreth Branch junction, the document stares; "We have two options at Shepreth Branch Junction. Both options require us to remove the junction and build two new tracks next to the existing tracks. EWR trains could run on the western or eastern side of the new four track railway into Cambridge. Our options are to: 

• The railway would be at the existing level (at grade), which means EWR trains will run on the western side of new four track railway into Cambridge or 

• Use a new bridge to join the two railways (grade separated), which means EWR trains will run on the eastern side of the new four track railway into Cambridge."


"In both options the railway would remain in its current location, however land may need to be acquired for the construction and permanent operation of either option. We do not currently envisage that this would require the acquisition of residential properties."


"At the next stage of design, we would need to consider the following matters and your response to this consultation: 

• The cost of a grade separated junction compared to an at grade junction would have to be considered 

• The potential visual impact of a grade separated junction 

• An at grade junction is likely to cause more disruption to the existing railway operations during construction 

• Other environmental and community impacts would need to be considered."


Regarding the Hauxton Road level crossing  in Little Shelford, the consultation document states; "There are a number of options we are considering for the Hauxton level crossing: 


• Building a bridge or an underpass at the existing level crossing 

• Closure with provision of a pedestrian/cycle bridge 

• Permanent diversion either with provision of a new highway or along other existing local roads.


"At the next stage of design, we would need to consider the following matters and your response to this consultation:

• The impact of any diversion via a new or existing road on traffic, including buses 

• The impact of any diversion via a new or existing road for people including walkers, cyclists and horse riders 

• The level of increased journey times if the existing level crossing is closed."


There are several public events, including two for the Shelfords to Cambridge section:

  • Friday 16 April 11am - 12pm

  • Monday 10 May 7 - 8pm


Read more about the second consultation East West Rail proposals published on March 31 2021. The current consultation ends on June 9 2021. Here is the section of the document affecting the Shelfords.


Posted March 31 2021

East West Rail update - diesel trains and Option E March 2 2021

Authors: The Shelfords’ East West Rail (EWR) Action Group

A lot has happened since the Great Shelford East West Rail Action Group was formed in December and did a door drop to alert Great Shelford residents to what is about to happen to our village if we don’t take action. This was just before Christmas. Little Shelford residents have since joined us and we are now The Shelfords’ EWR Action Group.

The objective of The Shelfords’ EWR Action Group is to persuade East West Rail to conduct a full consultation on both a southern and northern approach to Cambridge. We want the best solution not just for our village but for Cambridgeshire and Greater Cambridge. We have been hard at work and there are several positive developments to report.

What has the Action Group achieved so far?

We have;


*worked with Great Shelford Parish Council (GSPC) and now have aligned objectives and the GSPC is proactively supporting consultation on a northern approach

· joined forces with other villages and provided active support to Cambridge Approaches (CA) www.cambridgeapproaches.org, and CBRR campaigns

· successfully lobbied GSPC to pledge £ 24,000 to support the Cambridge Approaches Limited Judicial Review Fund

· erected signs around the village in support of the CA and CBRR campaign

· undertaken a letter writing campaign to all key stakeholders, including politicians, EWR and other bodies

· helped persuade Anthony Browne, MP to state publicly in a letter to residents dated 5 February 2021, “I have heard the arguments in favour of the northern approach option and find them persuasive. I certainly think that it warrants full consideration, and that the public should have a say on this option.”

· attended a meeting on 18 February organised by the GSPC with EWR to question them on the rationale for deselecting a northern approach

So, what is it all about?

East West Rail (EWR) confirmed Option E (southern approach to Cambridge) at the beginning of 2020 as part of their consultation phase.

All EWR documentation indicate that the corridor from Cambourne to Cambridge will connect to the West Anglia Main Line either at or slightly to the north of Shepreth junction or to the south of Great Shelford.

On 18 February EWR met with Great Shelford Parish Council and representatives from The Shelfords’ EWR Action Group, During the meeting EWR indicated that their preferred option was to join the Kings X line and to utilise current rail infrastructure where possible. EWR did not rule out presenting more than one route alignment option through Great Shelford in the consultation document.

They indicated that the consultation document should be available before Easter and the consultation period will run until around the end of May.

No matter which route is selected it will have a devastating impact on our village. Why? The reasons are many and, in this update, we focus on diesel trains and freight.

Diesel and freight

This diesel ready track will not only be a commuter line but have significant freight capabilities. EWR have not consulted on this, but it is clear from Network Rail and other publications that the new railway line is likely to be used to take freight from Felixstowe and other East Coast ports to the Midlands to alleviate capacity issues on other routes. Diesel freight trains can be slow moving ½ mile long carriage systems, and are likely to run at night. This has adverse noise implications for the village. In addition, diesel causes air pollution; the line should be electrified from the outset but this is not currently planned.

During the meeting on 18 February EWR provided no confidence that:
• The line wouldn’t take freight.
• The line wouldn’t be diesel.
• Full environmental studies had taken place or would take place

What is the alternative?

CamBed RailRoad (CBRR) created an alternative route option known as the northern approach as it connects via north Cambridge stations - full details can be found on their website www.cambedrailroad.org

Why a northern approach?

A northern approach aligns to an already existing travel corridor, it links from north Cambourne serving the large existing population and future expansion plans, it would then travel to the north of Cambridge connecting the new and growing Northstowe and Cambridge North. Passengers arriving at Cambridge North station could travel on to other destinations in Cambridge (including the bio-medical campus and Addenbrookes) using the rail line through Cambridge and other existing and proposed local transport infrastructure.

On 23 February a joint letter with signatories from Cambourne town council to Trumpington residents’ association, including Great and Little Shelford parish councils, calling for a fair Consultation on the CBRR route, was sent to Chris Heaton-Harris MP and Grant Shapps MP. Read the letter here.

The Wildlife Trust objects to a southern approach

The Wild Life Trust has on 8 February 2021 stated their objection to a southern approach. Read more here. https://www.wildlifebcn.org/news/east-west-rail-need-change-track


 Judicial Review threat to East West Rail proposals


Great Shelford Parish Council has agreed to offer £24,000 towards a judicial review of any imminent proposals made by East West Rail.

An announcement of potential routes in the Option E area is expected in February. The proposed routes could well have a significant impact on Great Shelford with the possibility of additional rail tracks and trains through the village.

The opportunity may arise to prepare a case for a judicial review jointly with other affected local Parish Councils. They believe that the new rail route from Bedford to Cambridge should also consider entering Cambridge from a north-western route, an idea that is not currently being considered.

At a special meeting on January 27, the Parish Council agreed a request from the Great Shelford Action Group for Great Shelford Parish Council to make a significant Pledge (Circa £24,000) to Cambridge Approaches in support of the Judicial Review.

Posted Jan 31 2021

The East West Rail line is a new rail route which will link Oxford to Cambridge and beyond. The new East West rail link could mean a new additional railway line through Great Shelford.

The next stage of the consultation on the East West rail website will take place in 2021. (external link) This will include updated proposals for the siting of the new railway line.

East West Rail Ltd have been appointed by the Department of Transport to undertake the project. Last year they decided, after consultation, on the general route. This broad route corridor has been announced and survey work regarding the actual route alignments is underway.

Great Shelford GWR Action Group to fight the proposals has been formed.

The proposed East West Railway link could mean some houses in the village would need to be demolished to accommodate the lines according to one local resident. 

A link for the new Oxford to Cambridge rail line would "run via the rugby field/ Westfield Road/ Stonehill Road" in Great Shelford according to another campaigner with local links.

No decisions have yet been taken. 

The new Oxford to Cambridge rail link is one of the biggest building projects in the country. The western section from Oxford to Bletchley is already complete. The broad route for the Bedford to Cambridge section known as ‘Option E’, was selected by the East West Rail Company (EWR) in January 2020.

EWR have so far rejected a northern approach into Cambridge for the rail link and proposed the southern one, known as Option E. This would see the line leaving Bedford and heading east to St Neots. It would then head for Cambourne, before looping south to join the main line into Cambridge close to Great Shelford.

A campaign group called Cambridge Approaches has proposed approaching Cambridge from the west from a station north of Cambourne.

Another campaign group, CamBed Railroad made a presentation to Great Shelford Parish Council in November. They also favour a northern link which would avoid Great Shelford.

Cambridge Approaches are holding a webinar for residents of The Shelfords, Hauxton and Newton to discuss the East West Rail project on December 2. People will need to register for the webinar with Cambridge Approaches in advance to join the meeting.

Read an explanatory blog by Steve Edmondson, from the Cambridge Approaches group.

Great Shelford Parish Council statement on the East-West Railway situation.

Read a letter from a "horrified" local resident and its impact on Shelford Rugby Club.

Posted Nov 25 2020