Our CEO Simon Blanchflower has also written a review, that gives a good summary of the challenges we’ve come across and the progress we’ve made in 2018/19.
Chief Executive’s Review
This year has seen a period of high activity across the board since we became operational in September 2018.
In this time, we’ve grown the core team from seven employees to over 45 dedicated specialists. Our focus has been to seek out the right skills and mindset to support our remit for innovation – hiring those who’ve been working on some of the world’s most exciting rail and infrastructure projects as well as people injecting inspiration and ideas from other industries entirely.
Listening to our communities
We spent the early part of 2019 in public consultation for the Bedford to Cambridge section – looking for views on five alternative proposed routes. This exercise triggered over 7,000 responses – revealing the level of local engagement. The range and quality of feedback was excellent and we are currently looking at all the comments we’ve received and working with partners and the government as we narrow down to a preferred route option.
A public enquiry into the Oxford to Bedford section also took place at the beginning of the year. The Inspector received over four hundred letters of support for the project and is expected to deliver a final report to the Secretary of State for Transport in the coming months.
We remain incredibly grateful to members of the public and our stakeholders who took the time to engage with these processes. The project will undoubtedly be better as a result.
Another rewarding exercise has been to commission a research study into our future customers – getting to the heart of who they are and what they need from us. This kind of work, undertaken at such an early stage, sets us apart from other delivery models and ensures that communities will get the railway service that is right for them.
A new way to engage with the industry
We made the decision actively to engage with suppliers of rolling stock ahead of our formal procurement process later this year, to secure trains for the western section of the route. Market reaction has been extremely positive. We know trains running on our route need to be reliable, comfortable and affordable and this has been a valuable way both to capture market insight and to generate interest and engagement. We have also held supplier-engagement events with those companies interested in working with us on the development of the Bedford to Cambridge section of the route.
The way forward
We will continue to combine innovation with a forensic approach to securing best value. Alongside our ability to boost economic prosperity, we have a unique motivation, stemming from our firm belief that things in our industry can be done better.
I am excited to be leading East West Railway Company as we work to deliver the world-class railway that the region needs and the brilliant service our future customers deserve.
Simon Blanchflower CBE
Chief Executive Officer