The Planning Process

Learn about how we're taking East West Rail from planning through to construction

Planning for East West Rail is taking place over five stages

From Oxford through to Cambridge, East West Rail will connect people, place and communities.

Bringing them closer to the things that matter. Jobs. New homes. Friends. And family. Giving them fast and affordable ways to travel. All with the environment at its core.

So how do we realise this ambition and take East West Rail from planning into construction?

Some construction works are already underway between Bicester and Bletchley, but more planning is required before we can construct the full railway. Planning for this is taking place over five stages, and we've already completed the first two. You can learn more about each of the stages and the wider planning process below. 


The route to construction

More information about the five stages


    This stage includes:

    • Public consultation
    • Analysis and design
    • Choosing a preferred Route Option


    We held a non-statutory public consultation, talking with people living and working across the route corridor, elected representatives and many other organisations and interest groups. Using their comments alongside environmental, economic and technical studies we chose a Preferred Route Option.



    This stage involves:

    • Designing and testing possible route alignments between Bedford and Cambridge
    • Identifying potential additional infrastructure needed to run services between Oxford and Cambridge
    • Environmental and land surveys
    • A second non-statutory public consultation 


    In this stage we are consulting on the options we have developed for the Preferred Route Alignment. We are also now considering station locations, starting to survey land, and studying connections with local transport networks. We have also established what further additional infrastructure may be required between Oxford to Bicester, Bletchley and Bedford to allow future EWR trains to run all the way through to Cambridge.


    This stage involves:

    • Analysis and design
    • Choosing final options for additional infrastructure between Oxford to Bicester, Bletchley and Bedford
    • Statutory public consultation


    We will choose a Preferred Route Alignment between Bedford and Cambridge, and the options for additional infrastructure between Oxford to Bicester, Bletchley and Bedford. We will base this choice on feedback from two previous consultations and continuing environmental, economic and technical studies. It will be presented to the public alongside other parts of the Project, including the proposed design, in a statutory consultation. The information from this consultation will be used to finalise our proposals for the railway. We will also seek the next stage of funding and approval from government

    This stage involves:

    • EWR Co submits an application
    • Planning Inspectorate holds an Examination
    • Secretary of State for Transport makes a decision


    We submit the proposals to the Secretary of State as part of an application for a “Development Consent Order”. On his behalf, the Planning Inspectorate will carry out a public examination of our application which
    normally lasts up to six months. People will be able to comment on the application.

    The Inspectorate goes through a strict process of examination and hearings, before making a recommendation to the Secretary of State on whether our proposals should go ahead. A final decision is usually given within six months of the examination closing.

    Once we’ve complied with any initial conditions or requirements included in the Development Consent Order, the government will consider the full business case for the Project to make the final decision to proceed. Following further conversations with the public and stakeholders, can start to construct your new railway.

Project Delivery

We are delivering East West Rail in partnership with a range of stakeholders - who vary depending on the area of the route. Learn more about who are partners are, and how they're helping us deliver East West Rail. 

Learn more

Careers at East West Railway Company

At East West Railway Company, we’re changing the way rail projects are delivered. We’re hiring talented, creative problem-solvers, bringing together a talented team with diverse experiences, backgrounds and skills. Sound interesting?

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