News and Research

East West Rail: No Direction, no Mandate and No Business Case

Andy Collins: What’s going on with East West Rail

03 October 2022

The sheer arrogance of East West Rail and the government is unacceptable.  The people of Bedford Borough continue to suffer due to their lack of direction and communication.  BFARe stands for Bedford for a Re-consultation and now, more than ever, we need to listen to those who have had their homes, lives and livelihoods blighted by the completely inept EWR route selection process and public consultation events.

The Andy Collins Three Counties Radio interviews today provide real life, real person examples of how those of the Poets area of Bedford and villages through North Bedfordshire along the Route E path have suffered at the hands of East West Rail, Bedford Borough Council and central government ministers.

From the Andy Collins interviews today:-

Bedford Poets Neighbourhood resident: “We were not properly consulted in the first place.  We just move on in a state of anger and bewilderment.  We feel abandoned by the local mayor who’s not bothered to visit us or even to explain in detail why he thinks [Route E] is such a good plan for Bedford…. We can’t organise our lives…”

Julia from Poets Neighbourhood: “I’ve had the letter to say my house may be up for demolition…. I live 2 minutes from my elderly parents… for whom I am a primary caregiver for… and we are in the process of choosing my child’s primary school.  My mental health has taken a serious hit since March 2021…  It’s my home.  Someone please have the bottle to speak to us as individuals and not as numbers…”

Steve Arnold, Ravensden from BFARe: “The whole [East West Rail] project has been dogged by poor communication, withholding costs and poor consultation… the Liz Truss statement prolongs the uncertainty of everybody.  If the project is to start again, it really needs to start from ground zero.   It needs to have proper consultation with everybody and a proper comparative assessment from all the alternatives.  The BFARe alternative… is that the new railway should follow the obvious straight, flat and shorter route along the A421… freight trains could bypass the town and midland station could still be connected.   It would be a cheaper, flatter and more carbon-friendly route.”

Tracy Rose, Great Barford: “I went to the Wyboston EWR communications evening in May… I was shocked and horrified when I saw how close the route goes to their house and that they had not been consulted.  I was told someone would be in touch with me about it.  And absolutely NO ONE from East West Rail has been in contact with me about it.   I am shocked and devestasted that [Liz Truss] has made the statement [to support East West Rail] based on false assessments.

A catalogue of issues and uncertainties surround the East West Rail Bedford to Cambridge project and cause continued anguish and despondency for those along the “preferred route.”

  1. East West Rail does not have a business case. The IPA recently stated the project was unachievable (New Civil Engineer 25/07/22).
  2. During the Conservative party PM selection process, Grant Shapps stated that there was a “uncertainty and lack of detail around the East West Rail project” and added that it was unclear whether or not the rail scheme is delivered (New Civil Engineer 22/08/22).
  3. Richard Fuller, MP for North East Bedfordshire stated that the East West Rail project had “hit the buffers” and ““The business case was due to be presented at the start of June, but it’s been delayed again and again. I don’t think it stacks up (Bedford Independent 24/08/220).”
  4. And most recently, Liz Truss has made an obscure announcement “I do support East West Rail” and “”What I will be doing is making sure we’re accelerating important projects.””

It remains unclear as to how East West Rail can be deemed to be “important” given the lack of a business case to justify the recent public support from the local industry.  Perhaps one of the businesses in support of East West Rail might research how poorly the preferred Route E was selected and designed.  How it is not fit for purpose as it traverses difficult-to-navigate and environmentally significant areas of Bedford.  This might be a better use of private sector funds and press releases.

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