The East West Rail Business Case

At the heart of every major infrastructure project is the Business Case.

A well prepared Business Case should:

  • highlight the rationale for a project – the ‘case for change’
  • evaluate the benefit, costs and risks of alternative options
  • demonstrate how the preferred solution has been reached.

Planning a major infrastructure project takes several years. As the project develops, more evidence and information is available. This includes:

  • feedback from communities and stakeholders through engagement and consultation
  • new evidence, such as findings from environmental surveys
  • from detailed studies to test the viability of emerging proposals
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Business Cases are developed in parallel with other work.

It captures these updates as it evolves through different stages, providing more detail and new evidence as the programme develops.

When a project reaches its final planning stages, a Full Business Case is produced to support the application for a Development Consent Order (DCO). The application is reviewed by The Planning Inspectorate alongside other key technical documents to consider whether the project should go-ahead.

We're in the early stages of producing our business case

We submitted a Strategic Outline Business Case in 2019, which formed the basis of our first non-statutory consultation.

This was held in 2019 and asked for feedback on five route options for a new section of railway between Bedford and Cambridge.

After a preferred route option was selected in 2020, we looked at further changes that needed to be made along the route from Oxford through to Cambridge. At this early stage planning, the emerging concepts and proposals were published in 2021 when we held our second non-statutory consultation.


We're analysing consultation feedback, which will help inform our Outline Business Case

More than 190,000 comments were received from local communities and other stakeholders during our most recent consultation. These are being considered carefully and will inform more detailed proposals along the route, which will be shared for comment at a statutory consultation. This will include the preferred route alignment option for the section of railway between Bedford and Cambridge.

Consultation feedback on the more detailed plans will be analysed carefully and inform the production of the Outline Business Case, which will be published as part of the DCO application. At this point, residents, communities, businesses and other stakeholders will be invited to review the application and provide feedback to The Planning Inspectorate. More information on the DCO process can be found on our Planning Process page. 

Following the DCO process, a Final Business Case will be developed and submitted to Government for approval.


    We're carefully analysing feedback from our recent non-statutory consultation. This will help us refine our options and update our designs, which we'll take to the public through a statutory consultation.

    Feedback from this consultation will inform our Outline Business Case, which will be submitted as part of our Development Consent Order submission.

    Transport business cases evolve over time and therefore is not a single static document.

    We are currently in the early stages of developing our business case. Having completed the Strategic Outline Case for Connection Stage 2 and 3 in 2019, we are now preparing for the delivery of the Outline Business Case.

    We are currently considering a wide variety of options to ensure we refine the solution to deliver value for money and achieve our objectives, gathering as much evidence as possible and building a robust demand model to forecast potential usage of East West Rail.

    As the business case evolves there will be points, for example at statutory consultation, where further design work will be shared and consulted on.

    Once the appraisal is complete and at an appropriate level of robustness, we will look to publish the business case for East West Rail which will include associated cost estimates.