The twists and turns of a new rail link between Oxford and Cambridge competes with Britain’s bendiest road, ministers have heard.

Richard Fuller, Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire, claimed a proposed section of the East West Rail line running between Bedford and Cambridge was “full of twists and turns, and ups and downs”.

Transport minister Huw Merriman, meanwhile, said the rail link could have the option of “hybrid” rolling stock, after MPs voiced concerns that only diesel trains may initially travel the route.

East West Rail aims to restore a direct railway link between Oxford and Cambridge, to boost economic growth across the region between the two university cities.

While some of the western sections of the route use existing lines, a new section of track must be built between Bedford and Cambridge.

A preferred route for the new section was announced by East West Rail at the start of June.

In a Westminster Hall debate, Mr Fuller lambasted the plans, comparing it with a B road in Dorset known as Zig Zag Hill, sometimes claimed to be the UK’s bendiest road.

The Tory former minister said: “East West Rail, the route chosen is so full of twists and turns and ups and downs, it surely competes with what is probably our country’s bendiest road – I am not sure if the minister knows this, the B3081 at Cann Common in Dorset, that ‘twists and turns more than many an Alpine climb’.

“Words that could be transposed to the route chosen by East West Rail.

“Back when governments and other people knew how to build railways in the Victorian age, of course they chose a straighter, less hilly route.”

Mr Fuller also said MPs were “misled” about whether the line would be electrified, adding: “Originally, as the minister will know, in the 2005 Railways Act it was going to be an electrified line as part of the electric spine.

“In July 2012 in the high level output specification, East-West Rail was listed as a new electric railway line.

“It was then dropped by East West Rail company, but now in their latest document, well, they say it may come back.

“Well minister, which is it? Are we electrified? Are we not electrified? Is it battery powered? Is it not?”

Mr Merriman said: “With every project of this scale important decisions must be made to optimise and maximise the benefits it can provide.

“The proposals to build new stations at Tempsford and Cambourne will enable communities to grow, provide opportunities to improve biodiversity, and give people increasing access to green spaces, significantly outweighing the benefits that a St Neots station could provide.”

On the electrification of the line, he added: “Phase one, which is the part that goes from Oxford over to Bletchley, is of course a mix of an existing line and (what) once was a railway line.

“Phase two that goes from Bletchley to Bedford is an existing line. In that sense it is a more difficult challenge in terms of electrification because bridges and other infrastructure matters are already in place and would have to be significantly changed.

“Where we have built in new bridges, new infrastructure, we have done that with electrification for the future in mind.

“So it does have that pathway available to it and of course we look with the future towards hybrid options as far as trains are concerned, with the ability to make for a better decarbonised line of route.”

Lib Dem MP Wera Hobhouse (Bath) also emphasised the importance of electrifying the line, telling the debate: “We are in a climate emergency. If people want to really see the benefits of a new infrastructure, they need to see the benefits to the environment, but also to their health.

“The Government is not making electrification the main priority, isn’t that really what this line should be about, electrification?”

Labour MP for Cambridge Daniel Zeichner added: “I think in the end electrification, she is absolutely right, is obviously the way we should be going.”