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“East West Rail selected Route E from five routes during a flawed consultation in 2019. The route they selected is longer, has more steep gradients, tighter curves, and greater journey times- it therefore requires more materials to construct and fuel to run than the alternatives.
It also means carving through a swathe of unspoilt countryside, rather than using the existing A421 transport corridor. This will impact delicate ecosystems, wildlife, ancient woodland and endangered species.
East West Rail’s flawed Route selection consultation failed to adequately communicate with many affected people, and missed key Parishes from the Proscribed Consultee list. It did not use a level playing field regarding costs which also changed radically during the process – without communication to the public.
The subject of Freight was not consulted on, and it is now clear that Diesel freight will be used. Using a longer, steeper, more circuitous route is not consistent with the government’s decarbonisation ambitions – this represents new information and should trigger a reconsideration.
Bedford Borough Council had an undemocratically large influence on the decision and cited a tiny incremental economic gain (0.05% – 0.13% p.a.) of using a route through Bedford. However they have so far failed to perform a traffic, congestion, air quality or noise pollution study for Bedford Midland station.
Given the new information on costs, freight and the impact of Covid on predicted passenger numbers, we ask the Minister of State for Transport to instruct EWR to re-consult on a shortlist of the routes making environmental considerations the focus. We recommend that an adjusted Route B is considered, as this is the most consistent with government environmental and decarbonisation policy.”