Cambridge Approaches – East West Rail Co. update
Please see the update below from William Harrold of Cambridge Approaches regarding East West Rail Co.
According to letters from the Department of Transport to the local conservative MPs Anthony Browne and Richard Fuller in Bedfordshire, the new Rail Minister is reviewing the business case for the EWR between Bletchley and Cambridge. They expect to report on their findings in June. These MPs are setting the expectation that the railway will be cancelled; this is based on information that they have not disclosed, but Anthony Browne has also met Grant Shapps. Their interaction with the rail minister has been facilitated by the activities of Cambridge Approaches and BFARe (which is an acronym for Bedford for a Re Consultation).
Meanwhile the rail minister and EWR Co. are indicating that the project is full steam ahead. EWR Co. are arranging a series of public meetings starting in Bedford and working towards Cambridge. They do not expect new information to be released at these meetings. A recent strategy report issued by Network Rail in March assessed how well the railway performs against the road network at peak times.
A letter signed by about 70 local parish councils and councillors across political parties and from all over South Cambridgeshire including the Mayor Dr. Nik Johnson was sent to the DfT asking for the publication of the business case. This received substantial local press coverage. This question was substantially ignored by the Rail Minister. The Campaign group BFARe sent a similar letter and received a similar response which left some room for the possibility that the project would be cancelled.
Anecdotally, the northern approach to Cambridge does not seem to have been ruled out. EWR Co. have also held a series of Local Representative Group meetings with local PCs and Councillors. Little new information was revealed. EWR Co. have a new CEO Beth West; her previous positions include being Commercial Director for HS2 and with Transport for London. The demise of the Ox Cam Arc should fundamentally undermine the case for the railway, but this has not been acknowledged by EWR Co. Attempts to get EWRCo. to answer questions left over from the 2021 consultation are with the Information Commissioner’s Office. A follow up by the MPs office failed to make any progress.