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6 March 2024 - Strategic transport objectives - Oral evidence

Committee Transport Committee
Inquiry Strategic transport objectives

Wednesday 6 March 2024

Start times: 9:00am (private) 9:30am (public)

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East West Rail project examined by Transport Committee 

The East West Rail project will be scrutinised by the Transport Committee in an evidence session with Rail Minister Huw Merriman, DfT officials and the project’s Chief Executive.

Meeting details

At 9:30am: Oral evidence
Inquiry Strategic transport objectives
Managing Director at England's Economic Heartland
Chair at Oxford to Cambridge Science Supercluster Board
Mayor at Bedford Borough Council
At 10:15am: Oral evidence
Inquiry Strategic transport objectives
Director General for Levelling Up at Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
Minister for Rail at Department for Transport
Permanent Secretary at Department for Transport
Chief Executive Officer at East West Rail

East West Rail aims to establish a line linking Oxford and Cambridge via Bicester, Milton Keynes and Bedford. The project, with an estimated cost of £6-7bn, was announced in 2013 and the East West Railway Company was set up as a delivery body in 2017.

The session, part of the Committee’s strategic transport objectives inquiry, will also see MPs question the Mayor of Bedford and representatives of the Oxford to Cambridge Science Supercluster Board and England’s Economic Heartland – a sub-national transport body covering an area from Swindon to Cambridgeshire.

The session follows a recent National Audit Office (NAO) report which said the Government “is not yet clear how the benefits of the project will be achieved nor how it aligns to other government plans for growth in the region”. The report did not provide a value-for-money appraisal of the project.

Witnesses will be asked about the case for building East West Rail, and how different strategic objectives were considered and prioritised in the lead up to the project being green-lit, such as local economic growth, housing development and improving connectivity between cities along the route.

As well as seeking an update on how plans are progressing, MPs will want to hear how local government, businesses and residents have been consulted and communicated with, and how the Government and EWR will respond to the findings of the NAO’s report.

There will be questions about to what extent different government departments have been planning for the project in a joined-up way, and whether the project will be fully electrified in order to minimise carbon emissions.

The Strategic Transport Objectives inquiry is a broader examination of how the Government works across departments and regional and local government to plan and invest in infrastructure and services, and the criteria and methods it uses for making decisions on major projects. This session will use East West Rail as a case study within the inquiry.


The Wilson Room, Portcullis House

How to attend