Funding for construction work injects new impetus into this critical project.
The Government has announced £760 million to support the new East West Rail line connecting communities between Oxford and Cambridge.
The investment means further vital construction work can begin and represents an important milestone in the East West Rail project. The funding is for part of the line between Oxford and Bletchley/Milton Keynes and means this section of East West Rail is expected to be up and running by 2025. Delivery of this stage is expected to provide work for 1,500 people, injecting an estimated £1.1bn pounds into the local economy.
The new rail connections will provide opportunities for people right across the area by:
- Making it cheaper, easier and quicker to get around in the future – connecting people to their jobs, homes and families, as well as businesses to their employees, suppliers and customers
- Supporting new housing so people can afford to live and work in the area, and businesses can afford to create more jobs and increase productivity.
As well as improving quality of life for people in the area, East West Rail will help the local economy to:
- Make places more appealing for people wanting to start and grow businesses – attracting and retaining the best talent in the region, while encouraging new investment to support the economy
- Spreading prosperity across the UK – creating growth for towns and cities outside of London. The National Infrastructure Commission estimated that creating these transport links and supporting the area between Oxford and Cambridge was worth nearly £80bn extra each year for the British economy.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Restoring railways helps put communities back on the map and this investment forms part of our nationwide effort to build back vital connections and unlock access to jobs, education and housing.
“Returning these routes to their former glory, and progressing work to reopen even more lines and stations, shows our commitment to levelling up journeys across the country as we build back better from the pandemic.”
The investment announcement also sees EWR Co confirm a phased approach to delivering the East West Rail project, which will reduce disruption for local communities along the route. The project will now be delivered in three “Connection Stages”, relating directly to a full journey – not just the building of infrastructure:
- Connection Stage One: Oxford to Bletchley and Milton Keynes
- Connection Stage Two: Oxford to Bedford
- Connection Stage Three: Oxford to Cambridge
This new joined-up approach will help EWR Co:
- deliver the best value for taxpayers – by properly integrating the whole railway all the way from planning to operations, which will ensure best value for the taxpayer
- minimise disruption for local communities – EWR Co is looking to find the best way to reduce the length and level of disruption for local communities across all connection stages
- increase reliability of services – the project is about more than just laying down steel and concrete: EWR Co is thinking about how timetables and connections with other parts of the rail network will impact on journeys, helping ensure reliable services are delivered from day one.
Simon Blanchflower CBE, Chief Executive Officer at East West Railway Company, said: “We are delighted that the Government has made this significant investment decision for East West Rail and the Oxford Cambridge Arc. This means we can now get on with the construction work and connect communities who live on the East West Rail route.
“We are committed to improving connectivity across the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and fully recognise our responsibility to ensure that the railway is delivered in a way that minimises disruption, supports the regional economy, maximises benefits and supports jobs across the region.”
Cllr Sue Clark, Chair of the East West Rail Consortium, said: “We welcome the Government’s continued commitment to delivering East West Rail. Today’s announcement means that in just a few years’ time, we will see the first East West Rail services from Oxford to Bletchley and Milton Keynes – a milestone worth celebrating.
“We look forward to having confirmation that Milton Keynes-Aylesbury and Bletchley-Bedford will also be delivered as soon as possible. While each section brings its own benefits to the communities it serves, East West Rail’s full transformational potential will only be realised if it is delivered in full.
“We will continue to press the case for the investment in these two sections by working with the East West Railway Company to ensure that their proposals meet the requirements of users and communities for the decades to come. And we will continue to press the Government for an early decision on the investment that will allow those sections to be delivered as soon as possible.”