East West Rail is a proposed new rail link between Oxford and Cambridge, connected these two renowned cities and a plethora of communities between them. But, if you’re affected by the scheme, is there anything that you can do to protect your interests?
What is East West Rail?
There has been a campaign for improved connections between East Anglia and central, southern and western England for many years now in particular to between the prestigious university cities of Oxford and Cambridge.
Few will recall that the ‘Varsity’ line has previously existed – however services were slow and infrequent, with most services stopping before the end of the 1960s when travel by rail went out of fashion.
However, in recent years, technology has increased in these two cities, and their respective populations with them. This has created a strain on existing road networks, with journeys considered to take too long and this led to a planned reintroduction of a rail link – known as the East West Rail.
To aid with this, the East West Rail Consortium was established in 1995, made up of local authorities and strategic partners.
The scheme proposed itself is in three sections:
- Oxford to Bicester (Western Section Phase 1) – completed in December 2016
- Bicester to Bedford (Western Section Phase 2) – Order confirmed and works starting
- Bedford to Cambridge (Central Section)
For the main component, Bedford to Cambridge, a preferred route was announced which would link existing stations with communities in Cambourne and the area north of Sandy, south of St Neots. This route was considered to provide the most benefits for taxpayer expenditure. However, within this, there remains flexibility on the exact route (a zone up to 5km in some places) that the rail line will take. The possible routes can be viewed online as a static map here, or as an interactive map here.
What are the next steps?
The Consortium will still be required to continually engage with local communities and local authorities both informally and formally in order to fine-tune the route.
The Consortium has confirmed that they will be applying for a DCO (Development Consent Order) , a statutory instrument which is a means of obtaining permission for developments categorised as Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects. The Consortium will be contacting landowners to arrange access for environmental and archaeological surveys, which will enable them to make decisions concerning the route. [Find out more about survey rights in our article S.172 survey rights: compulsory purchase by another name? ]
At present, the alignment is scheduled to be announced in 2022 with the consortium looking to secure the DCO in 2023/24 with construction commencing in 2025.
What can I do if I am affected by East West Rail compulsory purchase?
If you have been approached by the consortium as a potential landowner for access to undertake a survey, or as a business which may be impacted by the proposal, you can begin to take action to protect your interests immediately. Getting involved at an early stage will likely give you the best chance of shaping the project or securing compensation.
Carter Jonas is representing significant landowners along the route and has specialist compulsory purchase advisors who can help you at every step of the way. Find out more about our compulsory purchase claimant services , or get in touch with the team.
Jack Sharpe, Associate
Mark Warnett, Partner