NAO to consider East West Rail

The National Audit Office (NAO) is investigating the plans for the East West Rail programme to improve connections between Oxford and Cambridge.

According to the scope of the investigation, it will consider how the “context for the East West Rail project has changed over time”.

It will also look at the Department for Transport’s “assessments of the economic and strategic case” for the initiative, plus the cross-government working to plan and deliver the intended outcomes.

On the final point, the NAO said one of the most significant intended benefits of the project is to create new housing along the route, which it said will “require cross-government working”.

The investigation, which is taking place over winter 2023/24, has raised concerns among some that the East West Rail initiative could be abandoned. Earlier this year, Housing Secretary Michael Gove put forward the Cambridge 2040 plan to boost housebuilding in the city, raising questions over whether both schemes could survive, with local MP Richard Fuller describing them as “competing”.