Though in its later years a cross-country route of secondary importance, the railway from Bedford to Hitchin was originally part of the main line of the Midland Railway to London. The Midland obtained powers for this line on August 4th 1853 and it was opened throughout on May 8th 1857.
Intermediate stations on the Bedford-Hitchin line were at Cardington, Southill, Shefford and Henlow (renamed Henlow Camp from March lst 1933).
All had full passenger facilities except the last-named, which had no accommodation for furniture vans, livestock, horse-boxes or carriages by passenger train - though only Shefford and the separate Midland goods station at Hitchin had cranes - both of 1 ton 10 wt capacity.
Passenger services were a basic of four trains each way (six in 1910) on weekdays, with extras on Tuesdays; by 1938 there were also three trains each way on Sundays, and weekday extras to the basic four-train pattern ran on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
The problems in building Shefford railway had been great because of the presence of the Greensand Ridge near Shefford. Because of this the railway had to go through a tunnel at Old Warden and also through a cutting to the north of Shefford. From this cutting the railway made a wide sweep on the north coming into Shefford and ran accross the valley floor on an embankment which reached its widest part in the goods yard just south of Ampthill Road. The tunnel at Old Warden which is half a mile long and approached through a mile-long cutting was therefore not the only difficulty. At this point the railway was single track.
What the railway really lacked for its assured success was an industrial hinterland, the only real industries in the area being the GasWorks and Scrap Yard at Shefford, and a quarry at Henlow where special sidings were constructed. Near Shefford Station were the cattle and goods yards with the associated sidings.
Traffic figures for the Shefford Railway in 1952 show 40 passengers per day from Shefford, 112 from Henlow Camp and 168 from Cardington. The Shefford Railway closed to passengers on January lst 1962 and to freight services on December 28th 1964. The Shefford -Hitchin Railway was closed completely on January lst 1962.