East West Rail – audit office to investigate project after Bedfordshire MP voiced concerns

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The National Audit Office will investigate three aspects of the project

The National Audit Office is set to investigate the East West Rail project after an MP expressed his concerns.

The long proposed project is planned to improve links between Oxford and Cambridge and would involve changes to rail services and infrastructure in Sandy and Bedfordshire villages from Bedford to Bletchley.

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But in a letter to the audit office in July, North East Bedfordshire MP Richard Fuller expressed concern about support for the project at Government level and an emergence of alternative proposals to unlock economic growth around Oxford and Cambridge rather than along the rail line itself.

Richard Fuller MP is calling for an investigation by the National Audit OfficeRichard Fuller MP is calling for an investigation by the National Audit Office
Richard Fuller MP is calling for an investigation by the National Audit Office

Mr Fuller said: “After the East West Rail route announcement in May, I called on the National Audit Office (NAO) to look into the flawed business case of EWR and I am very pleased that they have now taken this step. The NAO, the country’s independent guardian of value for money for taxpayers, is to investigate East West Rail.”

A statement from the National Audit office said: “This investigation will examine three of the most serious questions raised about the East West Rail project, namely:

> how the context for the East West Rail project has changed over time,

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> the Department for Transport’s assessments of the economic and strategic case for the East West Rail project,

> the cross-government working to plan and deliver the intended outcomes.”

East West Rail is an infrastructure project intended to improve transport connections between Oxford and Cambridge. Although it is a transport project, the intended benefits are much wider than improving travel connections and journey times. One of the most significant intended benefits is to enable the creation of new housing along the route, which will support growth in the region.

A Department for Transport Spokesperson said: “East West Rail will serve as a catalyst for growth across the Oxford-Cambridge region by boosting local economies and bringing communities closer to job opportunities, families and friends.

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“Work is already underway to deliver the first passenger service from Oxford to Bletchley and Milton Keynes by 2025 and in May, we set out our preferred route for the remaining stages of the project.”