The Anonymous Widower

More Than A Thousand People In This Town Want A Rail Service To Cambridge

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Cambridgeshire Live.

This is the first three paragraphs.

t’s a town talked about more for its struggling market than its booming businesses.

But more than a thousand people in St Neots have signed a petition wanting to see that end.

The petition, which was started by Michelle Woodbridge, a resident from the town, wants the ‘forgotten’ area to be part of a new rail connection between Oxford and Cambridge – which people believe may revitalise the area.

St. Neots station is on the East Coast Main

  • It is to the East of the town.
  • The station has a new footbridge with lifts.
  • It has an half-hourly Thameslink service between Peterborough and Horsham, with extra services in the Peak.
  • There is a bus connection to Cambridge

This Google Map shows the Eastern area of the town around the railway station.

Note.

  1. The large area of development to the East of the station.
  2. The A428 road running across the bottom half of the map.
  3. The A428 is being upgraded and could become a dual-carriageway route to Cambridge via Caxton Gibbet, Cambourne and Madingley.

The East-West Rail Link between Oxford and Cambridge is planned to cross the East Coast Main Line at Sandy and then take a Southerly route to Cambridge South station.

The Route Option B is described like this in Wikipedia.

Route B involves running from the Marston Vale line to a new Bedford South station before then running to a relocated Sandy (to the north Tempsford area or south of St. Neots). The route heads east to a new station in Cambourne before swinging south to join the existing line northbound to Cambridge.

It does seem a bit of a roundabout route, but the new station at Tempsford could be a well-placed Park-and-Ride station for Cambridge.

I don’t think that the choice of route between Bedford and Cambridge will be easy.

However, certain factors may help in the design of the route.

An Improved A1 Road

The A1 road runs North-South to the West of the East Coast Main Line.

The road is only a two lanes in each direction and probably needs improvement.

So the improvements could be done in conjunction with the building of the East-West Rail Link.

The East Coast Main Line Is Four Tracks

Much of the East Coast Main Line is four tracks or could be made so, through St. Neots and Sandy stations.

Both stations have four platforms.

Sandy Station Could Be An Interchange Between The East-West Rail Link And The East Coast Main Line

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Sandy station developed into a comprehensiove interchange station, either in its present position or slightly closer to St. Neots.

It would  be served by the following services.

  • East Coast Main Line services between Kings Cross, the North of England and the East of Scotland.
  • Tramslink services between London and Peterborough.
  • East-West services between Cambridge and Oxford via Bedford and Milton Keynes.

It would also be a Park-and Ride station for London, Bedford and Cambridge.

The East Coast Main Line Will Be Digitally Signalled

This must help increase the numbers of trains on the Route.

Greater Anglia Are Ambitious

I just wonder if there was a flyover at Sandy station, if trains could use the East Coast Main Line and the East West Rail Link to create a new service from Cambridge to Peterborough via Cambridge South, Sandy, St. Neots, and Huntingdon.

It would suit Greater Anglia’s ambitions and the 100 mph Class 755 trains could handle the partially-electrified route with ease.

There could even be a circular service, where trains returned from Peterborough via March, Ely, Waterbeach and Cambridge North.

  • The trains would not terminate at Cambridge, but would go through the three Cambridge stations in order.
  • Four trains per hour (tph), with two going via Sandy and two via Ely could be handled in a single platform at Peterborough.

I estimate the following times are possible

  • Cambridge and Peterborough via Sandy – 60 minutes
  • Cambridge and Peterborough via Ely – 50 minutes

Two tph doing the circular route in both directions would need eight trains. All stations would get at least two tph service to Cambridge and Peterborough.

Conclusion

I can see a time when there is a direct service between Peterborough and Cambridge via Cambridge South, Sandy, St. Neots, and Huntingdon.

St. Neots would have a two tph service to Cambridge South, Cambridge, Cambridge North, Ely and Peterborough.

March 8, 2019 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , ,

2 Comments »

  1. I am afraid that you are incorrect when you state that ‘both St Neots & Sandy have four [through] platforms.

    Sandy only has two, one on (either side of the ECML) and (as far as I can ascertained), a couple of disused bay platforms. Also, passengers can only get between the two sides by exiting the station, walking up a steep path and crossing over the ECML using the narrow path of the nearby road bridge.*

    In contrast, St Neots does have four platforms. In addition, there is space for two further lines and platforms (through or bay) on either side – Firstly there is a large gap between the main station building and platform 1 and secondly, next to platform 4 is a short siding. The station has a modern footbridge providing stairs and lift (step free) access to all four existing platforms. Further more, the bridge has been built taking in to account the possibility of two additional lines/platfforms, so it would not need to be altered.

    St Neots station is easily more suitable for the proposed interchange between the ECML and the EWR. It will not only cost less to alter, but in addition, would serve (& benefit) a larger population. ** & ***

    Having said that, it is unlikely that the EWR will be routed through the existing St Neots station. ****. Either an extra station (St Neots South) should be built just north of Tempsford, or the existing station should be relocated to a site between the A428 and Little Barford Power Station.

    * https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandy_railway_station#Future
    ** St Neots is the third largest urban area in Cambridgeshire after Peterborough and Cambridge, with a population of 30,000 and (due to Wintringam Park & Loves Farm housing developments) one which is expeted to reach 40,000 within a decade. In contrast, Sandy has a population of only 11000.
    *** There have been two petitions, each with thousands of signatures, calling for the EWR to be routed via St Neots.
    **** When researching the work undertaken by NetworkRail as to the potential route of EWR (Central section), I noted that they considered over twenty route options, running as far to the north as Peterborough and as far ro the south as Stevenage. Yet strangely, despite being the largest urban area between Bedford and Cambridge, not one of the route options went via or even close to St Neots. Despite raising this issue with both Network Rail and the EWR consortium, neither have provided any expanation for this.

    Comment by Phil C | March 1, 2021 | Reply

    • Further to my previous comment, you might wish to be aware that Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority, lead by the new mayor (Dr Nik Johnson), has challenged the EWR consortium as to why the EWR can’t be routed via the existing railway station in St Neots. *

      There is certainly no reason to discount moving the planned route so that:

      a) having called at St Neots (existing station), the line continues to run along side the ECML. Then at the town’s northen limit, turning east across farm land to pass to the north of the current (& planned) Loves Farm housing development, before reconnecting with the proposed EWR route towards Cambourne.

      or

      b) having called at St Neots (relocated station) ** the line could immediately turn east, across farm land (allocated to but not yet taken by the Wintringham Park housing development). It can then pass under the current A428 via an existing access tunnel (which is already wide enough for two running lines), before reconnecting with the proposed EWR route towards Cambourne.

      * https://www.huntspost.co.uk/news/dr-nik-johnson-on-ewr-plans-8122026
      ** Sited at former Marston Road Level Crossing location. This is not only a more central location for all local residents, but affords direct road access to the existing A428 and its planned (dual carriageway) replacement. The location also affords the economic savings benefits of reusing several existing farm access tunnels. In addition to a modern concrete tunnel under the present A428 (see point b above), the site would place the station between two existing brich arched tunnels which pass under the ECML. Both of these tunnels have sufficient width to allow for one way vehicle traffic (& safe pedestrian/cycle) usage, creating a one way system which provides access to and around the station and avoids placing more traffic on the existing two routes (Cambridge Street & Barford Road (incl Abbotsley Road) which presently link the centre of St Neots and residents on the town’s western side, with the A428 and its planned (dual carriageway) replacement.

      Comment by Phil C | September 11, 2021 | Reply


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