UK rail infrastructure manager Network Rail (NR) has selected the Bedford – Sandy – Cambridge corridor as its preferred option for the central section of the East West Rail project.
The project is designed to improve the east-west connectivity and introduce faster and more reliable train services between Oxford, Cambridge and East Anglia.
It is reported that before selecting the Bedford – Sandy – Cambridge corridor, NR studied 20 possible corridors and it will publish written documentation, analysis and evidence supporting the decision in May.
Network Rail principal strategic planner Erica Blamire said: "Interest in the East West Rail project has understandably been high and we are keen to keep people up to date with our progress so far.
"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 have 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 have 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."
Once detailed information is published, NR will carry out further analysis and consultation to define a more precise route.
Work is already underway on the western section of East West Rail and a new passenger service between Oxford Parkway and London Marylebone via Bicester Village started in October.
Services are expected to start operating from Oxford from December.