East West Railway Company launches engagement exercise for innovative ‘Enterprise Partner’ model – an industry first for UK rail

The East West Railway Company (EWR Co) is today launching a market engagement exercise on an innovative new ‘Enterprise Partner’ model to support the company in the development and launch of the new Oxford to Cambridge railway service.
In a significant step – which represents an industry-first for the rail sector – EWR Co is testing the market’s appetite to: 
deliver train operations and asset management; and support the strategic leadership of the project at an early stage and through the launch phase of the railway. 

By combining service delivery with a strategic role, EWR Co aims to drive a real focus on achieving the long-term outcomes of the railway – which will in turn enable the wider transformation of the Oxford Cambridge Arc.

EWR Co has developed this Enterprise Partner model, building on lessons from previous projects, and drawing on thought leadership from the industry. It opens up exciting potential for organisations within and beyond the rail sector, perhaps from an infrastructure background, to get involved in this innovative new railway project.

The company is also working collaboratively with Network Rail, and the emerging Great British Railways transition team, to deliver the more customer-focused and cost-effective railway that is at the heart of the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail.


Commenting, Simon Blanchflower CBE, Chief Executive of East West Railway Company said:

“The Enterprise Partner model we have been developing over the past few months is an exciting opportunity for the right organisation or organisations to join us early and at a strategic level to deliver our ambitious vision for East West Rail. The model represents a unique way of drawing together the ideas and concepts at the forefront of industry thinking - an enterprise approach, a long-term focus on outcomes and early involvement from the supply chain – in a way which achieves the best outcome for passengers, local residents and for the taxpayer. The rail industry is going through a period of real change, so it feels right to share our proposition with the market and seek their views on the model to help us develop something that delivers real value.”

The launch follows on from a recent, similar engagement exercise which looked at infrastructure delivery. The combination of service delivery with a strategic role reinforces EWR Co’s ‘whole system’ approach, unlocking the opportunity for new technologies and ways of working that should be both more cost effective and better for customers and local communities.

Companies interested in finding out how they can play a leading role in this significant infrastructure project can access the PIN through the Delta procurement platform: https://www.delta-esourcing.com/delta/viewNotice.html?noticeId=614269565

Additional information

About the application process:

  • This is the market’s opportunity to partner with EWR Co through a new collaborative model to develop, launch and deliver a new railway.
  • We are at a critical stage in developing this exciting new model, and now is a chance for the market to help us test and refine this model in advance of launching a procurement exercise later this year.
  • For more information, the full Prior Information Notice (PIN) can be found here: https://www.delta-esourcing.com/delta/viewNotice.html?noticeId=614269565
  • Interested parties will be required to sign an NDA before receiving more in depth information on the model, where they will be able to access a detailed application form.
  • Respondents’ questionnaires will need to be returned to us by 18.00 hours on Thursday 26 August.  Before this date, there will be several opportunities for potential bidders to meet the team at EWR Co and understand more about the approach, including:
  • an initial virtual supplier session on Wednesday 4 August;
  • a more detailed virtual Q&A on Wednesday 11 August; and
  • an Open Day with networking opportunities on Wednesday 18 August

About the role:

  • Suppliers will have the opportunity to take an integrated approach to design, integration, entry into service, operations and asset management, supporting delivery of a new heavy rail route from the earliest stages of spades in the ground, through to carrying customers on journeys that aren’t possible today.
  • EWR Co is aware that the construction of a new railway will come with complexity and uncertainty, and therefore we are looking for a strategic level partner to help us meet the resultant challenges.
  • The Enterprise Partner model has two key roles to deliver, with both roles to be provided by the same organisation(s); the Enterprise Partner role and the Integrated Operator role.
    • The Enterprise Partner will support EWR Co to specify the railway solution, oversee delivery and prepare for entry into service more effectively, and may also include delivery of the key customer touchpoints.
    • The Enterprise Partner will also perform the role of Integrated Operator for the railway with responsibility for the initial phase of operations on the railway, followed by both operations and asset management as the later stages of the railway entry into service. The Integrated Operator’s role is likely to be similar to the combined role that train operating companies (TOCs) and Network Rail asset management would deliver in the current railway model.
  • While EWR Co has confidence in the model, we are seeking to test this approach with the market.

About the East West Rail project
East West Rail will create a new direct connection between Oxford and Cambridge. Serving communities across the area, it will bring faster journey times and lower transport costs as well as easing pressure on local roads.

East West Rail is being delivered in three Connection Stages:

  • Connection Stage One: Oxford to Bletchley and Milton Keynes
  • Connection Stage Two: Oxford to Bedford
  • Connection Stage Three: Oxford to Cambridge

Network Rail was responsible for developing the first part of the East West Rail, connecting Oxford with Bicester, and is a partner in a construction alliance to deliver Connection Stage 1 of the project, where East West Railway Company (EWR Co) and Network Rail are acting as the Department for Transport’s joint sponsors.

EWR Co is now developing the route to enable services to run to Cambridge via Bedford and will be seeking statutory powers under the Planning Act 2008, following a period of extensive consultation.

About East West Railway Company
East West Railway Company (EWR Co) was set up by the Secretary of State for Transport in 2018 to develop East West Rail, a railway with customers and communities at its core.

We have a mission to innovate and challenge the status-quo in the rail and construction industries, leading to a more efficient and cost-effective project delivery, and a great experience for passengers and the communities we serve.  Our vision is delivery a safe and secure railway that is better for the customer; cheaper for the taxpayer; delivered quicker than before and is greener for the environment.

Our distinctive outlook and commitment to doing the right thing for our customers and local communities runs through everything we do and every decision we make.