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Key transport projects

These projects range from major schemes carried out by other government authorities through to local improvements in Bedford.  

Bedford Town Centre Strategy

Understanding how traffic moves in and around Bedford town centre is critical to being able to improve the situation for all road users. To help inform decision making and take advantage of funding opportunities, the Council has commissioned an in depth study of traffic in the town centre. This includes a survey of traffic and car park use, and also the development of a traffic model which helps to test options for new or reassigned roads.

The strategy report documents set out the current situation in terms of how many traffic movements there are on a typical day, and also how long typical journeys take on certain routes at different times of the day. Some basic assumptions and agreed objectives are included, and a set of initial options has been set out.

Work is continuing to test the options, examine new options and plan for new developments and economic growth. Having a strong evidence base is required in order to bid for transport funding, and the intention is that the Bedford Town Centre Strategy study will provide such a baseline.

Strategy reports issued

ST15226-001 Issues and Opportunities Report (PDF)

ST15226-002a Option Screening and Assessment Report (PDF)

ST15226-002b Appendix Scheme Long List Appraisal (PDF)

ST15226-003 Scheme Option Development & Appraisal Report (PDF)

ST15226-004 Forecasting Report (PDF)

ST15226-005 Report of Survey (PDF)

ST15226-006 Benchmarking Report (PDF)

Modelling reports issued

ST15239-001 Bedford Town Centre Trasport Modelling - LMVR (PDF)

ST15239-002 Bedford Town Centre VISSIM Modelling (PDF)

A421 improvements

The new A421 dual carriageway between the M1 and Bedford is now open to traffic. The road opened on Wednesday 1 December 2010, a month ahead of schedule. 

The original A421, to be renamed the C94, will remain open for local traffic between Marsh Leys and the M1, and has become the responsibility of the local highway authorities; Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire Councils. 

There will be some ongoing works which include corrections to some rights of way routes.

M1 junctions 10 to 13 improvements

The M1 is a heavily used route that connects London with the Midlands and the North. It was designed and built in the 1950s and currently operates well over capacity, resulting in queues and delays at peak times. Improvements to the M1 between Junctions 10 and 13 have been made by converting the route to ‘managed motorway’. This includes the use of the hard shoulder at busy times and variable speed limits. The improvements will relieve congestion and reduce delays leading to more reliable journeys

The project also includes changes being made to Street Lighting and the hard shoulder

Find out more about the M1 junctions improvements project.

Thameslink programme - Network Rail

This is a government-funded £6bn programme of work to introduce new and improved stations, new track, new cross-London routes and new longer and more frequent trains with the express purpose of reducing overcrowding. It will transform the Thameslink route.

Service disruption expected while construction work is underway at stations in London.

East West Rail 

East West Rail is a major project to establish a strategic railway connecting East Anglia with Central, Southern and Western England. The project is being promoted by the East West Rail Consortium – a group of local authorities and businesses with an interest in improving access to and from the area.

The main benefits of the project are that it:

  • Provides a strategic connection between the radial routes out of London facilitating journeys without the need to interchange through London
  • Provides flexibility in the network and alternative diversion routes, including potential relief to the most congested southern sections of the radial routes out of London and local connections
  • Delivers a real public transport alternative to the use of the road network in an area where there is no high capacity road network linking the key centres of Milton Keynes, Bicester, Aylesbury and Oxford
  • Inter-connects three of the growth areas in the region (Milton Keynes, Aylesbury and Bedford), as identified in the Government’s Sustainable Communities Plan
  • Has the ability to be constructed in phases starting at the western end

The scheme consists of three Sections – Eastern, Central and Western. The Eastern Section utilises existing track and services linking Cambridge with Norwich and Ipswich. The Central Section will need to have new track constructed, possibly on a mix of old rail alignments and new to connect Bedford to Cambridge. The Western Section will connect Reading and Oxford to Milton Keynes and Bedford. 

On 16 July 2012 the Secretary of State for Transport announced funding for the Western Section.This announcement also confirmed that the route would be electrified as part of a new 'Electric Spine' to run between the South Coast and Yorkshire. This means that the Midland Main Rail Line north of Bedford will also be electrified. Some bridges over the rail line north of Bedford will need to be modified or re-constructed to create room for the overhead wiring.

It is anticipated that to deliver the Western Section there will be little need for infrastructure changes in the Borough area. The impact of electrification on the Marston Vale Line is not yet known.

We expect the existing Marston Vale hourly service in each direction to be retained, but overlain with a further hourly service (stopping at key stations only and using more modern diesel rolling stock). Details of where this extra train service would go and who would run it are yet to be concluded, but a direct service to Oxford and Reading is anticipated.

Work on the Western Section is now underway and is expected to deliver new passenger services by 2019.

The EWR Consortium has agreed that the announcement on the Western Section means it will need to re-evaluate the case for the Bedford-Cambridge part of the route. Progress on the work is reported on the Consortium website (link below).

Find out more about the East-West rail project.

Wixams Rail Station

Wixams new settlement is 3 miles (5km) south of Bedford and covers an area of some 384 hectares.  Based upon the site of the former Elstow Storage Depot it will eventually establish a community of around 10,000 people with the potential to expand to around 15,000.

Developers are working closely with Network Rail to secure the delivery of a new railway station at Wixams. A £17.3 million funding commitment by Gallagher has seen the evolution of a design for a modern railway station and multi-storey car park. No date is yet available for a start of works or opening. 

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