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EEH prioritises corridors for transport studies programme

01 June 2020
The M40 could be studied
The M40 could be studied

 

England’s Economic Heartland is sifting a shortlist of  transport corridors to determine which should be the subject of studies to inform investment planning. 

An initial long list of corridors was drawn up following discussions within the EEH’s strategic transport forum and the secretariat’s review of responses to a  draft transport strategy. 

Corridors are now being scored against the four principles of the EEH’s transport strategy: achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions no later than 2050; improving quality of life; supporting the regional economy; and ensuring the movement of people and goods through the region. 

A recommended draft programme of studies will be presented to the forum in June. The EEH plans to start two studies in 2020/21 and then three every year thereafter. 

The shortlist is: 

Oxfordshire – Milton Keynes: although the future of the Government’s controversial Oxford-MK expressway road plan is unclear, the EEH says the Government remains committed to funding a connectivity study between Oxford and Milton Keynes. “Subject to the outcome of the current review into the Oxford-MK section of the Oxford-Cambridge expressway, EEH will work with the Government and local partners to develop the connectivity study,” it says. The study will “incorporate opportunities such as Aylesbury to Milton Keynes (A418)”.

  • A1 corridor through Central Bedfordshire: Highways England has completed a study of the road and has submitted it to the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the DfT.
  • A6 corridor from Luton to Kettering: this study could be extended to Corby and further into the Midlands
  • the A420 between Oxford and Swindon/South West: the road suffers peak-time congestion, particularly at the north end near Botley
  • London-Buckinghamshire-Milton Keynes-Northampton: including the idea of a rail link from High Wycombe to Old Oak Common, connecting Chiltern Railway services to HS2, Crossrail and Heathrow
  • the A41 corridor (Watford-Aylesbury-Bicester-M40)
  • the A43/A45/A14 corridor (connecting the M40 and M1)
  • the A505 (M11-Luton): Hertfordshire County Council is currently undertaking the A505 corridor study and any EEH study would look at the corridor beyond Hertfordshire, including Luton to Aylesbury
  • A10: studies of this corridor are already underway by Hertfordshire County Council and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority. An EEH-led study would be “subject to further discussion with partners”.
  • Peterborough-Northampton-Oxford: including exploring rail opportunities
  • Luton to east of Milton Keynes: exploring road and public transport connectivity, particularly the M1 and the growing number of freight distribution centres in the area
  • the A34 between Oxford, Abingdon and beyond: “The A34 is the critical north-south route for Oxfordshire and is the main highway linking current and future growth areas in the ‘Knowledge Spine’,” says the EEH.
  • the M40 and A34: this could be incorporated into the A34 corridor study
  • North Northamptonshire: particularly connections of the A14 and A45
  • the A508 into Northampton
  • Northampton-Corby-Wellingborough: this could be incorporated into the Peterborough-Northampton-Oxford proposal listed above
  • the A414 (Hemel Hempstead-Hatfield-Harlow): Hertfordshire County Council has already conducted a study of the corridor. “The need for an EEH-led corridor study will be subject to further discussion with partners,” says the EEH
  • Luton to Dunstable and Houghton Regis
  • Luton to Hemel Hempstead

EEH to consult on statutory status

England's Economic Heartland has outlined the transport powers it may seek in its forthcoming application for statutory status. 

Transport for the North is currently the only statutory STB. Last year the then transport secretary Chris Grayling said he did not want to create any more statutory STBs at this time (LTT 19 Jul 19). That has not, however, deterred other non-statutory STBs from preparing applications for statutory status, including Transport for the South East (LTT 01 May) and EEH.

The EEH is preparing a consultation on applying for  statutory status in the summer, with a proposition being submitted to the DfT next spring. This could see statutory status granted in spring 2022. 

The general functions of a statutory STB include preparing a transport strategy and providing advice to the secretary of state about the exercise of transport functions for the area. 

EEH programme director Martin Tugwell told the EEH’s strategic transport forum this month that the “added value” of becoming a statutory STB was that the secretary of state would have to have regard to its transport strategy when making decisions on national strategies.

The legislation governing STBs allows them to make proposals to the secretary of state for further powers. 

The EEH envisages requesting powers that it would hold concurrently with consituent authorities. These could include: 

• The right to be consulted about new rail franchises

• The right to have a role in setting the High Level Output Specification (HLOS) for rail

• The right to have a role in setting the Road Investment Strategy (RIS) for the Strategic Road Network 

• The ability to enter into agreements to undertake certain works on the Strategic Road Network, Major Road Network or local roads – this would enable EEH (working with partners) to promote and expedite the delivery of regionally significant cross-boundary schemes 

• making capital grants for the provision of public transport facilities, enabling EEH to support the funding and delivery of joint projects with constituent authorities 

• securing the provision of bus services  

• entering quality bus partnerships  

• introducing integrated ticketing schemes

•  promoting or opposing infrastructure Bills in Parliament 

Tugwell said the Williams Review of the railways could recommend significant changes to the structure of the rail industry, including the role of STBs in both rail operations and infrastructure enhancement. As a result, he said it would be “prudent” to keep the following functions under review as potentially being appropriate for a statutory STB:

• acting as co-signatories to rail franchises

• being responsible for rail franchising 

In keeping with proposals of other STBs, “it would [also] be appropriate to seek the functional power of competence as set out in section 102M of the Local Transport Act 2008”.

 
 
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Oxfordshire County Council
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