East West Rail: More than 190k comments received in consultation

The consultation for the controversial plans ran for 10 weeks

Thursday, 12th August 2021, 1:12 pm
Updated Monday, 16th August 2021, 10:54 am
The East West Rail consultation ran for ten weeks

More than 190,000 individual comments in over 9,800 responses were submitted during the East West Railway Company's 10-week consultation over its controversial plans.

Responses to the latest public consultation were submitted by a wide range of people across the route, including members of the public, local authorities, businesses, parish councils, MPs and local community groups.

The EWR Co team is now working through the views and information provided, which it says 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.

The public consultation covered customer experience and railway operations and 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.

The consultation used virtual consultation rooms, easy explainer videos, factsheets and online chat sessions on top of sending traditional printed material to 270,000 addresses and using advertising to reach out to as many people in local communities as possible.

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.”

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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.

Throughout the consultation EWR Co held more than 100 online meetings with interested organisations, local authorities and residents.

During the consultation there were 51,000 visitors to eastwestrail.co.uk with 199,000 page views.

Some 75,000 documents were downloaded from the website including the consultation document, the technical report and several topic papers and factsheets – and 270,000 consultation summary documents were posted to residents and businesses along the East West Rail route.

Consultation in numbers

· 9,800+ responses to the public consultation

· 190,000+ individual comments being analysed

· 270,000 consultation summaries posted to residents and businesses along the East West Rail route

· 75,000 documents downloaded from the East West Rail website

· 51,000 visitors to www.eastwestrail.co.uk and 199,000 page views

· 4,800 visits to our virtual consultation rooms

· 3,500+ direct emails with people who asked questions during the consultation

· 400+ pieces of media coverage about the consultation

· 300+ advertisements in media along the route

· 64 online meetings with local MPs, councillors and parishes

· 32 online meetings with stakeholders including industry and business groups

· 18 online public webinars

· 16 live chat events