East West Railway Company (EWR Co) have opened virtual consultation rooms for the East West Rail, encouraging people in towns and villages in the arc as well as the cities to express their opinions, which in turn will be accounted for in the design, construction, and operation of the new rail link.

The consultations were launched on March 31, and cover issues such as the improvements needed in and around Oxford Station, options to avoid delays at a level crossing in Bicester, how communities around the Bletchley and Marston Vale line will get maximum benefits from the line, options for new stations in Bedford, route alignment options between Bedford and Cambridge, as well as plans to improve customers travel experiences.

Following the launch, EWR Co plan to send out a summary of the consultations to 270,000 addresses along the route and will host online events for both communities and stakeholders, with the virtual consultation room itself launched on April 12.

They will also publish proposals for their discretionary purchase scheme, outlining how the firm will support those whose home or business sale will be affected by the proposals.

East West Railway Company Chief Executive, Simon Blanchflower CBE said: “This rail link is vital to the future prosperity of the region so we ask people to encourage their friends, relatives and colleagues to get involved in the consultation so they can help us to bring the right connections to all of the communities who live and work in the Oxford Cambridge Arc. In developing these proposals, our team has focused on how we can minimise disruption to local communities and looked for ways we can protect and enhance the local environment. Now it’s time for communities to share their valuable local knowledge and ideas with us.” 

Martin Tugwell, speaking on behalf of East West Rail Consortium said “The consultation is another important milestone towards delivering East West Rail, a project which continues to enjoy strong strategic support from the local authorities which make up the Consortium. The project will transform public transport in the region, boosting our economy and providing an attractive alternative to the car. We encourage everyone to have their say regarding the consultation proposals in order to help shape the details of the scheme and ensure it meets the needs of the communities it serves. As a Consortium we will continue to make the case for delivery of East West Rail in full, including the core section between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes, and to the east of Cambridge on to Norwich and Ipswich.” 

The consultation was launched following a £760 million investment announced by the government, which will fund the rail link between Oxford and Bletchley/Milton Keynes, with this being the first time a whole route has been drawn up in a single consultation. The consultation rooms are open until June 9.

Image source: East West Rail

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