Focus is on “better connectivity” and “better stations”
Bedford Borough Council has launched a Rail Investment Strategy, setting out its priorities for railway services for the Borough.
The Council’s vision is for Bedford Borough to be a great place to live, work and visit. To do this, the Borough needs to attract international business and highly skilled and sustainable jobs.
The Council says that rail services are a key part of supporting economic growth and prosperity and to improve life choices for people living here as the population grows.
The Strategy focuses around “new and better connectivity and new and better stations“.
Mayor Dave Hodgson said:
“This Rail Investment Strategy is a high level document, setting out our priorities to improve Bedford’s connectivity which will improve our economy, increase potential for growth, and make it easier for local residents to travel and for visitors to come to our town.
“The Council’s role in the various elements of this Strategy is different, in some the Council will play a lead role, in others it will be a key influencer pushing the case for Bedford Borough to the people who make the decisions.”
The Council has laid out its plan to work with rail industry parties including Network Rail and the Department for Transport. The Council will push for better rail connectivity through East West Rail linking the Borough to Oxford and Cambridge, and then through to the Thames Valley, East Anglia and the West Midlands.
In addition the Council is looking to create international connections via HS2. It is working with stakeholders to develop a business case for a service from Bedford to Leeds, via Leicester and the East Midlands via HS2.
In the long term, this would see Bedford station acting as an interchange connecting the town to Leeds and Nottingham in the north, Norwich and Ipswich in the east, Sussex to the south and to the South West through Oxford.
Bedford Midland station and the area around it would be rejuvenated, creating an interchange and gateway to Bedford as part of the Town Centre Masterplan.
The other element of the priority for new and better stations centres around Wixams. A railway station at Wixams has always been part of the concept. Current plans would deliver four Thameslink trains per hour each way calling at the station, with opening targeted for late 2023.