England Economic Heartland’s will commence a 12-week consultation on its draft transport strategy on 14 July.
To emphasise the strategic significance of East West Rail, the strategy refers to the proposed new railway between Oxford and Cambridge as the “East West Main Line”.
“Delivery of the current East West Rail proposal will be transformational in its own right. However, the longer term potential of the East West Main Line to support planned growth and encourage further shift in passenger and freight movements on to the railway will require additional investment in its capacity and capability.
“We will work with the EWRCo and Network Rail to develop the longer-term potential of the East West Main Line over and above that of the current proposal.”
EEH wants the railway built as an electrified line.
Phase 2 of East West Rail, connecting from Oxford and Bedford, is due to open by 2024. Aylesbury to Milton Keynes should open by 2025 and the line from Bedford to Cambridge by 2030.
The strategy endorses improved east-west connectivity in a northern arc connecting north Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, and Peterborough, and a southern arc connecting Buckinghamshire, southern Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire. Network Rail is exploring possible rail lines in these corridors (see above).
The Government’s seemingly doomed plan for an Oxford to Cambridge Expressway road doesn’t receive a mention. The strategy does say, however: “Improving connectivity between Oxford and Milton Keynes is a strategic issue for the region. We will continue to work with our partners within the region and nationally to identify the most appropriate infrastructure solutions required to support the delivery of planned growth in this area.”
EEH also plans to work with the Government, Network Rail, Highways England and Oxfordshire County Council on challenges on the Didcot-Oxford-Bicester/Banbury corridor.
England’s Economic Heartland plans to commission nine corridor studies over the next four years to help inform its investment priorities. The studies, developed from an earlier shortlist (LTT 29 May) are:
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