The Government has re-affirmed its “ongoing commitment” for a new East West Rail line between Oxford and Cambridge.
It has also announced its preferred route for the third section of railway between Bedford and Cambridge including a direct link to the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.
This is subject to further public consultation, and an application for a Development Consent Order for the CS2/3 project, a DfT spokesperson told LTT.
The region is “a globally renowned hub of science, research and innovation”, and the East West line would support job creation and growth at towns and cities along the route, said transport secretary Mark Harper.
“With the potential to unlock £103bn of growth through new homes, businesses and job opportunities, this crucial line will also serve as a catalyst for development in one of Europe’s most vibrant local economies while making travel quicker, cheaper and easier across the region,” said Harper.
Liz Leffman, vice-chair of England’s Economic Heartland (EEH), said the transport secretary’s announcement “helps bring clarity to residents, businesses and local authorities along the route of East West Rail. With EEH’s support, our local authority partners can now work with their communities to understand the detail of the plans.”
England's Economic Heartland is the sub-national transport body covering the area from Swindon and Oxfordshire through to Cambridgeshire.
EEH will be pressing for the full electrification of East West Rail “to ensure it maximises opportunities to decarbonise our transport system”, said Leffman. “We must ensure it increases the quality and sustainability of our places by acting as a catalyst for better bus and active travel journeys.
“That it supports the sustainable growth of our globally renowned science and technology sectors. And we must ensure East West Rail unlocks new jobs and leisure destinations for our residents and greater access to skilled labour and suitable premises for our businesses: spreading economic opportunities beyond the cities of Oxford and Cambridge.”
“Our local authority members will now rightly be looking to understand the implications of the plans so they can represent the views of their residents and businesses accordingly,” said Cllr Steven Broadbent, chair of the East West Main Line Partnership, a grouping of local authorities, LEPs and sub-national transport bodies, which has been campaigning for East West Rail since 1995.
Broadbent added: “It is crucial that during the detailed planning for the construction of the next phases of East West Rail, the lessons learnt from the construction of the Bicester to Bletchley section such as the impact on local roads and timely engagement with residents are acted upon so that disruption to local communities is minimised. This has been a key area of interest for Partnership Board members and will continue to be so going forwards.”
The East West Main Line Partnership is pressing for the plans to include connection to Aylesbury. “We will continue to highlight the potential of an East West Main Line stretching from Ipswich and Norwich through to Swindon, Bristol and South Wales, alongside the imperative for seamless interchange to ensure places within a short rail journey of an East West station can maximise opportunities from it.”
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