MP says East West Rail boss must visit North East Bedfordshire to "walk" proposed route

Company says it is making arrangements to meet with him

Wednesday, 16th June 2021, 1:13 pm

Richard Fuller MP says the East West Rail boss must visit key points along the potential route in his constituency.

The MP for North East Bedfordshire has written to Simon Blanchflower, inviting him to "walk the route", as well as ask for detail behind costings changes.

He said: “Decisions like this are not about looking at lines on a map in your office; decision makers need to see the impact on the environment and communities first-hand.

The preferred route of the East West Rail
The preferred route of the East West Rail

"I was born in Bedford and have been the MP for both the town of Bedford and for North East Bedfordshire, and even so I have still found it extremely useful to visit the affected parishes in my constituency to help visualise the impact of the proposed rail line.

"I think as CEO of East West Rail, Simon Blanchflower would also find it useful and I have asked him to find a date so I can join him on his visit.”

Richard has also asked for a meeting with EWR analysts to go through an in-depth review of the calculations that informed the start of the 2019 consultation and a line-by-line explanation of the cost-benefit changes that led to a switch in the order of the routes in the final 2019 report.

He added: “I have also asked for a meeting with the finance and engineering teams at East West Rail to undertake an in-depth review of the calculations behind the indicative construction costs for Routes A-E at the start of the 2019 consultation and the changes to each of these costs that led to a switch in the order of the routes in the final 2019 report.

"There have been mounting concerns from residents about the aspects of the first consultation and decision processes and full transparency on the cost-benefit analysis will go a long way in resolving some of these issues.”

A spokesman for East West Rail said: "Mr Blanchflower and his team have spent a lot of time on-site during the development of proposals at locations across the East West Rail route, including Bedford, although this has necessarily been more limited since Covid restrictions came into force.

"Our team has proactively engaged with Mr Fuller and his constituents over the past few months. We’re very keen to continue with this engagement, including meeting with Mr Fuller in the local area, and we’re in touch with his office to make those arrangements."

Back in April, Bedford Today revealed houses in the Poets area of Bedford may be demolished as part of the proposals.

The consultation closed earlier this month and the report will be published later in the year.