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East West Rail Consultation

Volume 697: debated on Thursday 24 June 2021

What recent discussions he has had with transport authorities on the progress of the East West Rail consultation. (901735)

The East West Railway Company will consider the 2021 consultation responses. The 2019 consultation met open and fair consultation standards.

The 2019 East West Rail consultation and the 2020 route announcement made no mention that six tracks would be needed at Bedford Midland station or of the consequential demolition in the Poets area of my constituency. I urge the Minister to please consider the many representations on this matter from members of the public, rail groups and local councillors, and Bedford Borough Council’s SLC Rail report showing a credible four-track option that would avoid the loss of homes.

I assure the hon. Gentleman that this is a non-statutory consultation. It is a consultation where we really do want to listen to the opinions of people affected across the route of East West Rail, and we will most certainly take into account his representations here today.

Many of my constituents are appalled at the environmental damage that the East West Rail route will cause across Bedfordshire, and baffled that this 21st-century project will use a 19th-century fuel. Will my hon. Friend please look again at the environmental considerations that East West Rail has undertaken and bring them up to scratch?

I thank my hon. Friend for the pragmatic and dedicated campaign that he is running on behalf of his constituents and others on this issue. I know that he has encouraged his constituents to have their say in the recent consultation, and I thank him for that too. We are committed to decarbonising our railways, and East West Rail will continue to assess the potential environmental effects as part of the route alignment development work. An environmental impact assessment will be undertaken and an environmental statement submitted when the development consent order application is made to the Planning Inspectorate.