You cannot apply for this role

The application deadline has passed or the role has been closed for applications.

Role details

East West Railway Co. Non-Executive Director and Non-Executive Director - Audit and Risk Committee Chair

Application deadline 10 October 2023


East West Rail Company
Sponsor department
Department for Transport
South East
Accountancy, Audit and Risk, Business, Change Management, Major Projects, Regulation
Number of vacancies
Time commitment
24 day(s) per annum
£20000 per annum
Length of term
3 years
Application deadline
11:59pm on 10 October 2023

Share this page

The following links open in a new tab

Timeline for this appointment

  1. Opening date

    13 September 2023

  2. Application deadline

    11:59pm on 10 October 2023

  3. Sifting date

    27 October 2023

  4. Interviews expected to end on

    11 December 2023

Timeline dates are only an estimate and can change

About the role

Introduction from the Secretary of State

Dear Applicant,

Thank you for your interest in the roles of Non-Executive Director and Non-Executive Director - Audit and Risk Committee Chair on the Board of East West Railway Company (EWR Co).

This is an important time for the Department for Transport. We are investing heavily in infrastructure and public transport to improve journeys, boost connections, level up the country and support economic growth. Central to our mission is delivering transport that works for everyone in our society.

We are recruiting for one Non-Executive Director, and one Non-Executive Director to also Chair the Audit and Risk Committee, to join our team on the Board of EWR Co. EWR Co is one of the most exciting and high-profile infrastructure projects in the UK. They champion a proposed new rail link between Oxford, Milton Keynes, Bedford, Cambridge (and potentially beyond) that will improve local connectivity and serve as a catalyst for economic development.

These positions require the post holder to provide advice, offer alternatives perspectives, challenge and scrutinise the Board and champion the vision and objectives of EWR Co.

We strongly welcome applications from all backgrounds. As part of the Department’s commitment to diversity, we believe our public appointments should reflect our customers – the travelling public – who come from all walks of life and have different experiences. We very much welcome fresh talent, expertise, and perspectives, to help us better understand the needs of the communities we serve and support better decision making for all. This includes people who may have never applied for a public appointment – but could bring new ideas, insights and energy.

If you are interested in the roles and work of EWR Co, I would like to encourage you to apply.

Our dedicated DfT Public Appointments Team would be happy to talk through the process and answer your questions.

Rt Hon Mark Harper MP

Secretary of State for Transport

Introduction from the Chair

Introduction from Neil Sachdev, Chair for EWR Co.

Over the past year, the East West Rail Project (EWR) has continued to grow in strength and support under the new leadership of Best West as Chief Executive Officer.  When Beth joined at the start of April 2022, she was tasked with putting EWR Co. on the right path to accomplish our aim of improving connections between businesses and communities between Oxford and Cambridge, quicker than previous rail projects and at good value for the taxpayer.  Over the past 12 months, Beth has brought a renewed energy and sense of pace to EWR Co. and has accelerated progress.

The Government has been continuing its push for the UK passenger rail industry to a move to a simplified model with delivery of quality services for passengers at its centre. In the Spring Budget last year, the Government set out its plans to return the country to growth and pledged to provide an update on EWR by the end of May 2023. This route update announcement (RUA) happened on Thursday 25th May 2023.

I’m pleased to say that with Beth at the helm, EWR Co. is making strong advances towards its strategic goals and unlocking the combined potential of Oxford, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge through a new train route.

Neil Sachdev

Role description

About the Roles

Title:                      EWR Co Non-Executive Director and Non-Executive Director - Audit and Risk Committee Chair

Reports to:           EWR Co Chair

Duration:              An initial term of 3 years, with the possibility of re-appointment

Remuneration:       £20,000 (£15,000 base fee, plus £5,000 for chairing a sub-committee) for an expected time commitment of circa 24 days per annum.

The EWR Co is seeking two Non-Executive Board Members to join its Board. The successful candidates, through their membership of the Board, will provide challenge and support to a wide variety of management and operational issues and contribute to the effective strategic and operational leadership of the EWR Co.

As a Non-Executive Board member your key responsibilities will be to:

·       Guide, encourage and support the Leadership team, establishing a strong team empowered to deliver EWR Co.'s strategic aims and objectives.

·       Provide advice to the organisation, representing the interests of the customer within the expectations of Government, regulatory and commercial stakeholders.

·       Champion the EWR Co. vision and objectives, challenging Board decisions where appropriate to maintain the aspired strategic direction and culture.

·       Provide constructive challenge and hold the Leadership Team to account for effective and efficient delivery against the agreed strategy and business plan.

·       Facilitate discussion on key programmatic issues, balancing the legitimate interests of EWR Co. with external stakeholders together with what is considered to be best for the customer journey. Knowledge of the Oxford-Cambridge region would be an advantage.

·       Challenge and scrutinise the Board and the validity of recommendations made, demonstrating sound independent judgement.

·       Offer alternative perspectives to the rail industry norm, based on an ability to consider strategic, complex and often sensitive issues from an informed and balanced viewpoint.

·       One successful candidate will be a Chair of the Health and Safety Committee and a Member of EWR Co. Sub-Committees.

·       One successful candidate will be required to Chair EWR Co.’s Audit Committee and be a member of the EWR Co. Sub-Committees;

·       And ensure that governance, internal control and risk management systems are effective and capable of delivering relevant, accurate and timely management of financial information.

Organisation description

Information on EWR Co.

In 2018 the DfT created EWR Co. to develop the East West Rail project. Our job at EWR Co is to bring fresh thinking to the next stages of the Project.  We’re responsible for planning the section of EWR between Bletchley and Cambridge and taking a route-wide look all the way from Oxford to Cambridge and beyond.  We’re also responsible for overseeing the East West Rail Alliance as it continues to deliver work between Bicester and Bletchley. 

Following significant work to test and refine the strategic case for East West Rail over the past year, we have also updated the Purpose, Vision and Mission of the EWR Co.  This update is rooted in the pivotal role that EWR plays in unlocking the economic opportunity in the Oxford-Cambridge arc, which could be worth over £100 billion in additional value every year by 2050.  

For 2022-23, some of the key achievements for EWR Co. were: 

·       Secured Government backing for the full EWR scheme and made a recommendation on the route for CS2 and CS3. The review of both the case for and scope of EWR - Affordable Connections Project - was completed, and the non-statutory consultation feedback was considered, which enabled a clear set of recommendations on CS2 & CS3, and secured Government backing. 

·       Consolidated support and advocacy for EWR with businesses and local leaders within the region. We made significant progress with the business community and local leaders.  We won significant endorsements both publicly and direct to Government for EWR from the private sector, including the 50 largest employers in Cambridge. We supported the EWR Mainline Partnership to publish a pamphlet of how EWR benefits businesses in the area, complete with a set of business endorsements. 

·       Refreshed EWR Co’s Purpose, Vision and Mission, and restructured the business. This created a much stronger focus for the business going forward, and created a structure that is more project driven as well as making the most of cross-functional working. 

·       Confirmed approach to delivering train operations on CS1 with DfT.  We agreed that the DfT would lead on putting in place contractual arrangements with an existing operator in the area while EWR Co would fulfil our function in integrating the reporting across infrastructure, rolling stock and operations to identify risks to timely and effective Entry into Service.  

Priorities and plans for 2023-24 

·       This financial year will see us proceed at pace with the development of the business case, design and the consenting process for the railway. Our ambition is to outperform benchmark timescales for these activities, and to drive down the cost of the entire scheme as we proceed.

·       We have announced the route in May 2023, will continue drafting the Outline Business Case for January 2024 and will launch a Statutory Consultation in the first half of 2024. To achieve this, we will need to mobilise a multi-functional design team from both EWR Co and our partners, enact our Technical Assurance, as well as conducting significant environmental assessments. Throughout this period, we will work closely with local leaders and residents, taking a new approach to engagement so that our work is directly shaped by the communities we serve. 

·       In 2023-24 we will also develop our vision for EWR in more detail, bringing to life the simple to use, easy to access, ‘on time’ railway service necessary to unlock economic growth, that is affordable for the taxpayer. This will require us to go beyond the status quo, and we will work with both DfT and the wider rail industry to agree our integrated approach and identify where we can be a trailblazer contributing to the wider rail reform agenda.  

·       We will develop our Delivery Strategy for EWR, which will set out the capability we need to design, deliver and bring into use the railway, unlocking the innovation we need to do this in both an accelerated and lower cost way. The Strategy will capture the role of EWR Co and the shape of our supply chain, and we intend to seek approval to begin procuring that supply chain by the end of the financial year.  

·       We will continue to grow the capability of EWR Co over 2023-24. We have introduced a new People Strategy to develop our team and will soon embark on a period of Strategic Workforce Planning for the years ahead. We are strengthening the leadership of the business with a more focused Executive team as well as a broader Senior Leadership Team, and we will reach agreement with the DfT on a new Framework Agreement, to ensure we have the agile governance relationship we need to achieve results.  

Regulation of appointment

This post is regulated by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. For more information, please refer to the Commissioner’s website 

Person specification

Essential criteria

As a Non-Executive Director for EWR Co., you will have recent and relevant Executive Board or Non-Executive Director experience or be able to demonstrate the ability to operate at this level. Candidates will need to demonstrate strength of character and resilience with experience of, or demonstrate the ability to, operate in a high-profile organisation tasked with delivering against demanding objectives.

For the Non-Executive Director role:

  1. Leadership and transformational experience in a complex setting of major programmes.
  2. Experience of leading organisational change, capable of engaging organisations with energy, pushing boundaries and driving a culture of excellence.
  3. Knowledge of infrastructure projects and asset management.
  4. An understanding of, or experience of working in a large-scale operating and capital-intensive environments, preferably a regulated organisation and with rail experience. 
  5. Corporate strategy development and implementation experience.
  6. Ability to engage and manage stakeholders, which will include Government and local authorities.

For the Non-Executive Director - Audit and Risk Committee Chair role:

  1. An understanding of financing and funding arrangements and the role of internal and external audit, with a recognised qualification in accountancy (or demonstrable equivalent experience).
  2. Understanding of the planning process for large, complex programmes and best practice for the associated risk management required.
  3. Leadership and transformational experience in a complex setting of major programmes or capital-intensive environment.
  4. Experience of leading organisational change, capable of engaging organisations with energy, pushing boundaries and driving a culture of excellence.
  5. Knowledge of infrastructure projects and asset management.
  6. An understanding of corporate strategy development and implementation.
  7. Ability to engage and manage stakeholders, which will include Government and local authorities.

Candidates’ suitability for the roles will be assessed against the relevant role criteria 1 -  6 or 1 - 7 above.

Desirable criteria


Application and selection process

How to apply

In order to apply you will need to create an account or sign in.

Once you are logged into your account, click on 'apply for this role' and follow the on-screen instructions. To apply, all candidates are required to provide:

  • a Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • a supporting statement
  • equality information
  • information relating to any outside interests or reputational issues

We will ask you to check and confirm your personal details to ensure your application is accurate.

You will also have the opportunity to make a reasonable adjustment request or apply under the disability confident scheme before you submit your application.

Overview of the application process

Public appointments are made on merit following a fair and open competition process which is conducted in accordance with the Governance Code for Public Appointments. We will deal with your application as quickly as possible and will keep you informed at key stages. We aim to conclude the appointment process within three months of the deadline for applications – this is in accordance with the Governance Code.

The assessment process

  1. Ministers are responsible and accountable to Parliament for the public appointments made within their department. As a result, they must be consulted at every stage of the appointments process.

  2. An Advisory Assessment Panel (“Panel”) is appointed by Ministers to assist them in their decision making. The role of the Panel is to decide, objectively, which candidates meet the eligibility criteria for the role.

  3. At the shortlisting meeting the Panel will assess applications against the eligibility criteria and decide which candidates have best met the criteria, who should be recommended for interview. Ministers will then be consulted on the Panel’s recommended shortlist. If you have applied under the Disability Confident Scheme and you meet all the essential criteria, then you will also be invited for an interview.

  4. Once the shortlist has been agreed by Ministers, you will be advised (by e-mail) whether you have been shortlisted. Those shortlisted will be invited to an interview.

  5. The Panel will meet again to interview candidates and determine who is appointable to the role. The Panel may invite you to make a brief presentation at the start of the interview and will go on to question you about your skills and experience, including asking specific questions to assess whether you meet the criteria set out for the post. The Panel will also explore with you any potential conflicts of interest or any other issues arising from your personal and professional history which may impact on an appointment decision.

  6. Details of the panel’s assessment of interviewed candidates are provided to Ministers, including whether they have judged a candidate to be appointable to the role. It is then for Ministers to determine merit and decide who should be appointed. In some circumstances, Ministers may choose not to appoint any candidates and re-run the competition.

  7. Ministers may choose to meet with candidates before deciding the outcome. Candidates should therefore be prepared for a short time gap between interview and a final appointment decision being made. Candidates who have been interviewed will be kept informed of progress.

  8. Once the decision on the appointment has been made, interviewed candidates will be advised of the outcome of their application, including whom they may approach for feedback. Successful candidates will be issued with their Terms & Conditions and a letter of appointment should they agree to take up the position.

Further information about appointments, including tips on applying, can be found on our guidance pages on

Advisory Assessment Panel (AAP)

Nathan Phillips (DfT Shareholding Director) 
Neil Sachdev (EWR Chair)
Joyce Sarpong (Independent Panel Member)
Advisory Assessment Panels (AAP) are chosen by ministers to assist them in their decision-making. These include a departmental official and an independent member. For competitions recruiting non-executive members of a board (apart from the Chair), the panel will usually include a representative from the public body concerned.
AAP’s perform a number of functions, including agreeing an assessment strategy with ministers, undertaking sifting, carrying out interviews in line with the advertised criteria and deciding objectively who meets the published selection criteria for the role before recommending to ministers which candidates they find appointable. It is then for the minister to decide who to appoint to the role.

Eligibility criteria

In general, you should have the right to work in the UK to be eligible to apply for a public appointment.

There are a small number of specialist roles that are not open to non-British citizens. Any nationality requirements will be specified in the vacancy details.

The Government expects all holders of public office to work to the highest personal and professional standards. 

You cannot be considered for a public appointment if:

  • you are disqualified from acting as a company director  (under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986);

  • have an unspent conviction on your criminal record;

  • your estate has been sequestrated in Scotland or you enter into a debt arrangement programme under Part 1 of the Debt Arrangement and Attachment (Scotland) Act 2002 (asp 17) as the debtor or have, under Scots law, granted a trust deed for creditors.

When you apply, you should declare if:

  • you are, or have been, bankrupt or you have made an arrangement with a creditor at any point, including the dates of this. 

  • you are subject to a current police investigation.

You must inform the sponsor department if, during the application process, your circumstances change in respect of any of the above points. 

When you apply you should also declare any relevant interests, highlighting any that you think may call into question your ability to properly discharge the responsibilities of the role you are applying for. You should also declare any other matters which may mean you may not be able to meet the requirements of the Code of Conduct of Board Members (see Outside interests and reputational issues section below)
If you need further advice, please contact

Security clearance

The successful candidate will be required to undertake Baseline Personnel Security Standard checks in line with the Civil Service guidelines. Additional Security Clearance may also be required for certain roles. However, where this applies, candidates will be notified during the appointment process. Further information on National Security Vetting can be found on the website here.

Additional information for candidates

Equality and diversity

We encourage applications from talented individuals from all backgrounds and across the whole of the United Kingdom. Boards of public bodies are most effective when they reflect the diversity of views of the society they serve and this is an important part of the Government’s levelling up agenda.
We collect data about applicants’ characteristics and backgrounds, including information about people’s educational and professional backgrounds, so that we can make sure we are attracting a broad range of people to these roles and that our selection processes are fair for everyone. Without this information, it makes it difficult to see if our outreach is working, if the application process is having an unfair impact on certain groups and whether changes are making a positive difference.
When you submit your application, your responses are collected by the Cabinet Office and the government department(s) managing your application. The data is used to produce management information about the diversity of applicants. You can select “prefer not to say” to any question you do not wish to answer. The information you provide will not be seen by the Advisory Assessment Panel who review applications against the advertised criteria and conduct interviews.

Disability confident

We are a member of the Government’s Disability Confident scheme. We use the Disability Confident scheme symbol, along with other like-minded employers, to show our commitment to good practice in employing people with a disability. The scheme helps recruit and retain disabled people. 
As part of implementing the scheme, we guarantee an interview for anyone with a disability whose application meets the essential criteria for the role, set out in the advert, and who has asked that their application is considered under the scheme. Indicating that you wish your application to be considered under the scheme will in no way prejudice your application. By ‘minimum criteria,’ we mean that you must provide evidence which demonstrates that you meet the level of competence required under each of the essential criteria, as set out in the job-advert.
When you apply you will have the opportunity to select if you would like your application considered under this scheme.

Reasonable adjustments

We are committed to making reasonable adjustments to make sure applicants with disabilities, physical or mental health conditions, or other needs are not substantially disadvantaged when applying for public appointments. This can include changing the recruitment process to enable people who wish to apply to do so.
Some examples of common changes are:
  • ensuring that application forms are available in different or accessible formats;
  • making adaptations to interview locations;
  • allowing candidates to present their skills and experience in a different way;
  • giving additional detailed information on the selection / interview process in advance to allow candidates time to prepare themselves;
  • allowing support workers, for example sign language interpreters;
  • making provision for support animals to attend.
When you apply you will have the opportunity to request reasonable adjustments to the application process.

Principles of public life

Holders of public office are expected to adhere to and uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life. These are:
  1. Selflessness - Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.
  2. Integrity - Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.
  3. Objectivity - Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.
  4. Accountability - Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
  5. Openness - Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
  6. Honesty - Holders of public office should be truthful.
  7. Leadership - Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour and treat others with respect. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.

Code of conduct for board members

The Government expects all holders of public office to work to the highest personal and professional standards. In support of this, all non-executive board members of UK public bodies must abide by the principles set out in the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies. The Code sets out the standards expected from those who serve on the boards of UK public bodies and will form part of your terms and conditions of appointment.

Management of outside interests and consideration of reputational issues

Holders of public office are expected to adhere and uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life and the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies. Before you apply you should consider carefully: 
  • any outside interests that you may have, such as shares you may hold in a company providing services to government; 
  • any possible reputational issues arising from your past actions or public statements that you have made; 
  • and/or - any political roles you hold or political campaigns you have supported; 
which may call into question your ability to do the role you are applying for.
You will need to answer relevant questions in relation to these points when making an application. Many conflicts of interest can be satisfactorily resolved and declaring a potential conflict does not prevent you from being interviewed. If you are shortlisted for an interview, the panel will discuss any potential conflicts with you during that interview, including any proposals you may have to mitigate them and record that in their advice to ministers. Alongside your own declaration, we will conduct appropriate checks, as part of which we will consider anything in the public domain related to your conduct or professional capacity. This may include searches of previous public statements and social media, blogs or any other publicly available information. The successful candidate(s) may be required to give up any conflicting interests and their other business and financial interests may be published in line with organisational policies. 
Details of declared political activity will be published when the appointment is announced, as required by the Governance Code (political activity is not a bar to appointment, but must be declared).

Status of appointment

As this is an office holder appointment, you will not become a member of the Civil Service. You will not be subject to the provisions of employment law.

Appointment and tenure of office

Appointments are for the term set out in this advert, with the possibility of re-appointment for a further term, at the discretion of Ministers.  Any re-appointment is subject to satisfactory annual appraisals of performance during the first term in the post. There is no automatic presumption of reappointment; each case should be considered on its own merits, taking into account a number of factors including, but not restricted to, the diversity of the current board and its balance of skills and experience. In most cases, the total time served in post will not exceed more than two terms or serve in any one post for more than ten years

Remuneration, allowances and abatement

Remuneration for this role is treated as employment income and will be subject to tax and National Insurance contributions, both of which will be deducted at source under PAYE before you are paid.
You can claim reimbursement for reasonable travel and subsistence costs which are properly and necessarily incurred on official business, in line with the travel and subsistence policy and rates for the organisation to which you are applying. However these payments are taxable as earnings and will be subject to tax and national insurance, both of which will be deducted at source under PAYE before you are paid.  

Pension and redundancy

This is an office holder appointment and does not attract any benefits under any Civil Service Pension Scheme. You will not be eligible for redundancy pay as you are not an employee. No other arrangements have been made for compensation upon the end of your term of appointment because an office holder who is appointed for a limited duration would have no expectation of serving beyond that period.

Application feedback

We will notify you of the status of your application. We regret that we are only able to offer detailed feedback to candidates who have been unsuccessful at the interview stage.

How to complain

We aim to process all applications as quickly as possible and to treat all applicants with courtesy.
Please contact the Department for Transport public appointments team in the first instance if you would like to make a complaint regarding your application at They will acknowledge your complaint upon receipt and respond within 20 working days.

How to complain to Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA)

If you are not content with the appointing department’s response you may wish to further complain to the Commissioner at information on how the Commissioner handles complaints can be found on the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ website

Data protection

Contact details

Jessica Hall -