The East West Rail Consortium was formed in 1995 with the objective of promoting and securing a strategic railway connecting East Anglia with Central, Southern and Western England, including a spur to Aylesbury.
It brings together local authorities and local enterprise partnerships, as well as Network Rail and the Department for Transport, in a collaborative partnership that has actively supported the development and delivery of East West Rail for over 20 years.
The technical work commissioned by the Consortium, including feasibility studies and business cases, has played a fundamental role in establishing the initial basis for the scheme, on which subsequent work has been built.
Throughout the development (and delivery) of the project it has also been pivotal in ensuring a close and strong working relationship between local authorities, the Department for Transport and Network Rail. The effectiveness of the working relationship is reflected in the level of support for East West Rail across the wider community.
Following submission of the Consortium’s prospectus for the western section (between Oxford and Bedford, and Aylesbury and Milton Keynes) to the Department for Transport, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his 2011 Autumn Statement announced that funding for the western section would be provided.
In 2014 the upgrade to the railway between Oxford and Bicester, previously known as the “Evergreen 3” project, was incorporated into the wider East West Rail project as phase one of the western section. That phase, which included a new Station at Oxford Parkway, was completed in two stages and opened fully in December 2016.
The success of phase one is reflected in the extent to which passenger numbers have significantly exceeded the original estimates.
The East West Railway Company was established by Government in 2017 to accelerate delivery of the remainder of the scheme. The Chair and Vice-Chair of the Consortium (both elected local authority members) sit on the Programme Board for East West Railway.
2019 is a pivotal year for East West Rail, with the public inquiry into the Transport and Works Act Order for the western section, and the East West Railway Company consulting on route options for the central section between Bedford and Cambridge.
The Consortium is currently chaired by Mark Shaw, Cabinet Member for Transport at Buckinghamshire County Council. The Consortium holds a regular Strategic Board, attended by elected politicians representing the authorities of the Consortium.
Members of the Consortium Strategic Board include:
- Cherwell District Council
- Oxfordshire County Council
- Northampton Borough Council
- Aylesbury Vale District Council
- Wycombe District Council
- Buckinghamshire County Council
- Milton Keynes Council
- Bedford Borough Council
- Central Bedfordshire Council
- Luton Borough Council
- South Cambridgeshire District Council
- Cambridgeshire County Council
- Stevenage Borough Council
- North Hertfordshire District Council
- Hertfordshire County Council
- Norwich City Council
- Norfolk County Council
- Suffolk Coastal District Council and Waveney District Council (East Suffolk Council)
- Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council (West Suffolk Councils)
- Suffolk County Council
- Ipswich Borough Council
- Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership
- South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership
- Department for Transport
- East West Railway Company
- Network Rail