Network Rail has selected the Bedford-Sandy-Cambridge corridor as its preferred route for the Central Section of the East West Rail project.
The preferred route was chosen from 20 options and will now be developed further with a view to producing a ‘line on a map’ route in May.
The East West Rail project aims to reinstate the Varsity Line, the name given to the railway which used to link Oxford and Cambridge.
Delivery of the line has been split into three sections. Part of the Western Section, between the new Oxford Parkway station and Bicester, has already been completed.
Erica Blamire, principal strategic planner for Network Rail said: “In reaching our decision on the Central Section we have assessed the benefits and costs of several potential broad corridors, with input from rail industry stakeholders and regional working groups, including the local authorities in the East West Rail Consortium and the Department for Transport.
“We’ve considered the station catchment areas for population and employment, operating costs, forecast passenger demand, demand for short and longer distance journeys, and the impact on reducing crowding on the London rail network.
“We’ve also considered the infrastructure needs, train service opportunities and wider impacts that the railway would have. This work has allowed us to reduce the 20 potential corridors which were originally identified down to this single corridor which the evidence indicates offers the best return on investment.”