The East West Railway Company (EWR Co) said that its recent ten-week consultation received more than 9,800 responses, made up of over 190,000 individual comments that are now each being analysed.
Its team is now working through the views and information provided. EWR Co said these will inform the next stage of design work for the new rail line, with a focus on creating a positive legacy for local communities and the environment.
Simon Blanchflower CBE, chief executive of East West Railway Company, said:
“The number of responses we’ve received, the breadth of information and level of detail they contain demonstrates the value of consulting with local people at an early stage, and the huge level of public interest in East West Rail.
“Our team of experts at EWR Co are now examining every comment and we will report back to communities on what we have been able to do as a result of the information people shared with us. The whole team here appreciates the thought and expertise displayed in the responses which were provided.
“At the same time, we will continue to reach out to local communities and their representatives, so we can carry on talking without the formality of a full consultation. At the end of last month, I was invited to North East Bedfordshire by Richard Fuller MP to meet with him and representatives from the local community – my first such in-person meeting since COVID restrictions were lifted. It was great to be out on the route and I plan to have other similar meetings in the weeks to come.”
The public consultation covered two key themes:
- Customer experience and railway operations
- Infrastructure proposals – including five route alignments for the section of East West Rail between Bedford and Cambridge, stations and level crossings along the whole East West Rail route including Oxford station, Bicester London Road level crossing, Bletchley and the Marston Vale Line as well as Bedford station
EWR Co will publish a report summarising the consultation feedback as well as information on how the feedback has been used to inform plans for the railway.
People will then have further opportunities to comment on the proposals at the statutory consultation which is planned for 2022 following which EWR Co expects to submit a formal application for a Development Consent Order to the Secretary of State for permission to construct and operate the railway.