Former Landsec head of development Beth West says she’s going for ‘new challenge’

The chief executive of East West Rail is stepping down from the role to “pursue new opportunities”. 

Beth West has been at the helm of the East West Rail Company, a non-departmental public arm’s length body set up by the government to deliver a new rail link between Cambridge and Oxford, for the past two years. 

A former managing director of Balfour Beatty’s southern arm, West succeeded the retiring Simon Blanchflower in April 2022.

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Beth West took up the East West post two years ago

Her period in charge has seen the scheme’s preferred route defined and preparations made for the first stage of statutory consultation, which begins this summer. 

West, who before her move to Balfour was head of development at Landsec, said: “When I started at EWR Co, it wasn’t even clear if government would back the project. We now have clear government support, a real focus on what we’re doing, why we’re doing it and who we’re building it for.  

“As the company moves into a new phase, I’ve reflected that now is the time for me to move on, with EWR Co ready for the future whilst I’m ready for a new challenge.” 

She will remain interim chief executive until the end of May and will continue to support the organisation’s transition to a new permanent chief executive until the end of July. 

EWR Co’s chair, Neil Sachdev, said West’s tenure had been “a defining time” for the company and thanked her for her service. 

>> What is East West Rail and why is it being built? 

Rail minister Huw Merriman also paid tribute, describing her as “instrumental in bringing fresh perspective” to the project. 

“Beth has overseen significant developments during her time as CEO and rightly kept the communities this railway will serve at the heart of the project throughout,” he said. 

EWR Co said that a permanent chief executive would be announced “in due course”. 

Meanwhile another major infrastructure scheme, Sizewell C, has appointed a new main civils programme director. 

Major projects veteran David Speight was previously senior project manager for Lendlease on the London 2012 Olympics Athletes Village, head of civil construction at Hinkley and delivery director of phase 1 main works on HS2.