On Thursday, Rail Minister, Huw Merriman, visited North East Bedfordshire to look at some of the challenging topography of the East West Rail route and meet with parish and Borough Councillors and representatives from BFARe.
The Minister took up Richard Fuller MP’s invitation to visit during a parliamentary debate on East West Rail in June, called by Richard, following the route announcement.
During his two-hour visit, the Minister met with representatives from the villages of Clapham, Ravensden, Renhold, Wilden, Colmworth, Wyboston, Chawston and Colesden, Roxton, Tempsford and the collective voice of the parish councils, BFARe. The Mayor of Bedford, Tom Wootton, was also in attendance throughout.
The group shared their concerns about the chosen route, including the impact on the landscape and environment, the cost of the railway and the way the East West Rail Company had handled the consultation and engagement with the local community.
Richard Fuller MP said:
It was very important for the Minister to come here and see first hand the devastation the railway will cause to our north Bedfordshire countryside and to hear directly from elected parish and Borough councillors the strength of opposition to the route.
The Minister was also left in no doubt that the way the project had been handled by the East West Rail Company had caused a lack of trust in the project. The recent allegations about the management of HS2 has reduced that further.
For over a year I have been highlighting the flaws in the underlying rationale for East West Rail, and will continue to push the argument that better, greener alternatives exist to deliver the growth that EWR purports to enable. I am also very pleased that the NAO, the country’s independent guardian of value for money for taxpayers, is launching an investigation into East West Rail following my request for them to examine the project.