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East West Rail seeks partners to develop Cambridge link

THE East West Rail Company, which is developing the line between Oxford and Cambridge, is seeking delivery partners to help with the ‘Central Section’, which is the long-abandoned line between Bedford and Cambridge and set to be opened in the 2020s.

The Cambridge link, previously seen as a longer-term goal, will need a new route because the old alignment has been blocked. However, it was given a boost in the Budget, which allocated £20 million to fund a Strategic Outline Business Case.

Companies with appropriate skills, including project management, are being invited to register their interest. A session to discuss their offers and suggestions will be held during February.

Most of the Western Section between Oxford and Bedford is already open, with the exception of the line between Bicester and Bletchley. This was never lifted, although it has been out of use for some time.

Other longer-term plans include extensions of services both east and west, so that the eventual termini of EWR trains could be Bristol and Norwich.

EWR chief executive Simon Blanchflower said: ‘We want to hear from organisations with wide-ranging expertise and experience, who want to work with East West Rail to drive this crucial infrastructure project forward. It’s a unique opportunity to be involved in shaping the project from the outset.

‘This is not the “same old” approach – we want to build lasting partnerships and a motivated supply chain who will together help us deliver this exciting new railway line. Today we are kicking off genuine engagement with the market – not just briefing them on our plans but listening to them about how we can best unlock their expertise to support our project. We are determined to learn the lessons of the past and harness new innovations for the future.’

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