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East West Rail CEO Simon Blanchflower to retire in March 2022



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There will be new leadership at the top of East West Railway Company (EWR Co) in its next critical phases, as CEO Simon Blanchflower has announced he is to retire in March 2022.

Mr Blanchflower said it had been a “privilege” to serve as the first CEO of EWR Co, established by the government to develop plans for the new £5billion Oxford to Cambridge line, which is due to open by 2030.

Simon Blanchflower
Simon Blanchflower

He joined East West Rail in 2018, having previously overseen the completion of Thameslink as programme director.

Under his leadership, EWR Co has increased in size more than five-fold, established a new base in Milton Keynes and won awards for its use of technology. The first phase of East West Rail progressed into construction, having secured £760m of funding at the last Spending Review, and the line also featured prominently in the National Infrastructure Strategy announced by the government last autumn.

The company recently held a public consultation on the route choices between Bedford and Cambridge, and has awarded key development phase partner contracts. EWR Co is due to announce the preferred route alignment for the Bedford to Cambridge section by early 2022.

Mr Blanchflower said: “It has been a privilege to serve as the first CEO of East West Rail. Now that the programme is moving into its next stage of development, it is the best time for me to make a smooth handover to a successor who will see that through to conclusion. I am very proud of the team I’ve built at EWR, I am hugely grateful for their hard work, and I know they will achieve great things in the future.”

East West Rail Company's proposals for the approach to Cambridge. Map: East West Rail Company (47707364)
East West Rail Company's proposals for the approach to Cambridge. Map: East West Rail Company (47707364)

Neil Sachdev, chair of EWR Co, said: “Simon’s values and industry knowledge have allowed EWR to accelerate its way to where it is now. Though he is retiring, I am sure the industry will continue to benefit from his experience and insight.”

Recruitment for his successor will begin later in the year.


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