East West Rail

July 2022 update

East West Rail (EWR) is a major new railway connecting Oxford and Cambridge.

The proposed East West Rail route from Oxford to Cambridge could run through Great and Little Shelford under current proposals.

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


Routed appropriately, EWR might deliver important benefits to Cambridgeshire. But the proposed route alignment for the central section from Bedford to Cambridge, and the manner in which it has been developed, are causing concern within Great Shelford, Little Shelford and other affected parishes.

No decisions have yet been taken.

Changes to the railway in Great Shelford

The proposed new line will run alongside the existing King’s Cross line through the Shelfords before merging with the Liverpool Street Line in Great Shelford.

Under the current proposals, EWR has stated that this junction, located to the west of Granham’s Road in Great Shelford 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, but EWR does not say.

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. 

The Action Group is also concerned about freight. The tracks will be built to handle freight and freight trains run on diesel. 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.

Changes to the railway at Little Shelford

EWR is considering permanently closing or improving the Little Shelford level crossing in Hauxton Road at the location of the current level crossing.

The consultation document states; "There are a number of options we are considering for the Hauxton Road 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.


Timeline update

​EWR confirmed Option E, the southern approach to Cambridge, through Great and Little Shelford, in 2020.

June 2021 The East West Rail most-recent consultation ended.

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.

May 2022 EWR established some local representatives groups .

In 2022 they will present the next stage of detailed proposals and ask your views once more, as part of a statutory consultation.

In 2024, 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).


The Shelfords’ EWR Action Group. The objective of the group is to persuade East West Rail to conduct a full consultation on both a southern and northern approach to Cambridge.  mailto:gt-shelford-ewr-action@googlegroups.com

Cambridge Approaches action group

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

Updated July 13 2022