East West Rail chief makes personal pledge to publish update “as soon as possible”

Beth West
Beth West, CEO at East West Rail Company

The chief executive of East West Rail Co (EWR) has said that she will be in a position to update local communities on the chosen route in the “early part of 2023”.

In the latest EWR newsletter, CEO Beth West said that they were finalising recommendations for consideration by Government which would then allow them to formally respond to the route consultation.

Bedford residents have been critical of the length of time they’ve had to wait for confirmation of the route. Some of those living in the Poets area have had the prospect of their homes being demolished hanging over their heads since Route E – through Bedford mainline station – was selected.

Ms West wrote in the EWR newsletter: “I do recognise that people have been waiting a long time, and when I joined EWR Co in April I expected to publish an update on the project quickly.

“However, given the changes in Government over the past six months, I hope you will appreciate that progress hasn’t been entirely within my control.

“But for those people I’ve spoken to whose homes could be impacted by the railway, I know that certainty about the route choice is also critical, and the whole team here is focused on bringing that certainty as quickly as possible.

“My personal pledge as we close out the year is to work with Government and the team to publish an update as soon as possible.”

She said that “71% of local people between Oxford and Cambridge who think a new east-west public transport link is a good idea”.

Business case

One criticism of the project is that a business case has yet to be put forward by EWR.

“At this point in the process, EWR is not expected to have a full business case,” said the newsletter.

“A full business case will be submitted to Government for approval before building can start.

“We expect an early version of our business case to be shared with government around the same time as we submit the Development Consent Order (DCO) for approval, but this will not be the final version. The full business case will then be prepared post DCO, but this will not be complete for several years.”

East West Rail said they were committed to publishing information on proposals and public consultation as they collate it.