Bedford investor says East West Rail is vital to regenerate town centre      


One of Bedford’s longstanding economic champions says East West Rail (EWR) is vital to regenerate the town centre, creating jobs and investment opportunities to fulfil its potential as a thriving and attractive hub for businesses, shoppers and visitors.

James Burchell, Partner and Co-founder of Tellon Capital, which owns the Harpur Centre, says Bedford town centre is “under-utilised” and that EWR will enable it to flourish again by improving public spaces and attracting shops and restaurants back to the centre of the historic market town.

Mr Burchell and Bedford Chambers of Commerce say Bedford town centre can expect exciting regeneration similar to that underway elsewhere along the route in Bletchley where EWR has helped to unlock nearly £23m in investment needed to redevelop the town centre.*

The entrepreneur, whose company has been instrumental in regenerating town and city centres, including Oxford, York, Tunbridge Wells and Southampton, believes EWR will drive regeneration in Bedford town centre, boosting prosperity and growth by providing greater access to jobs and opportunities for local people.

Mr Burchell said: “Bedford has a fantastic town centre which is currently being under-utilised. We think that East West Rail will provide a stimulus to create a great deal of employment and opportunity, and a much better social and town centre environment that will allow Bedford to thrive as a town.

“EWR is being developed in stages and passenger services between Oxford and Bletchley are expected to be introduced in 2025. This has unlocked £23 million that has been invested in the centre of Bletchley, improving the town centre, access to the station and the overall community experience in the area.

“These are the kinds of benefits that EWR will bring that will help revitalise Bedford town centre, attracting much needed investment, improving the local area and providing more jobs for central Bedford.”

Bedford Chambers of Commerce believe the benefits of EWR, including a revamped Bedford Midland station, relocating Bedford St Johns station closer to Bedford Hospital which will improve access for patients, visitors and staff, and a three-fold increase in services on the Marston Vale Line, will be a vital catalyst for boosting the local economy.

Justin Richardson, CEO, Bedford Chambers of Commerce, said: “East West Rail will give people in Bedford access to faster and more reliable east-west public transport which will make the town more attractive for business investment and job creation.

“The investment underway in Bletchley helps to demonstrate how the social and economic potential for Bedford can also be unlocked, particularly by the new and refurbished stations which will support the wider generation of the town centre. The new railway line will open up exciting opportunities that I know businesses in Bedford are really looking forward to.”

Bedford is seen as an ideal opportunity for businesses in Cambridge to expand to, improving access to jobs for local people, as well as help the world-leading life sciences industry whose ability to grow is severely restricted due to surrounding green belt and limited and full transport networks.**

Bedford will not only benefit directly from EWR, but also help Cambridge businesses overcome these constraints and help the UK achieve its ambition to be a global leader in life sciences – and will be just 35 minutes away by rail once services are up and running.