Awards, contracts & appointments

04.02.20

Government announces preferred route for East West Rail

The government has announced the preferred route for the central section of East West Rail (EWR), which would greatly increase the connectivity across the Oxford Cambridge Arc.

After consultation in 2019, the route could see trains running from Bedford to Cambridge, with new stations also being served as part of the plan. The government still needs to make a final decision on a more detailed route alignment and apply for a developed consent order (DCO).

Minister for Future of Transport, George Freeman, said:

“East-West Rail has the potential to improve rail links to support opportunities for new housing, reduce congestion and pollution and unlock the economic potential across the region.”

The announcement follows the opening of a £500m Beeching reversal fund on Tuesday 28 January, ensuring isolated communities who lost vital rail links have the connectivity they need.

The Beeching report was originally responsible for the closure of several unprofitable railway lines during the 1960s. East West Rail primarily uses the track bed from the Varsity Line, which was mostly closed in 1967. There has since been an effort to reverse this closure – leading to the announcement.

The Oxford Cambridge Arc, described as Britain’s Silicon Valley, is one of Europe’s fastest growing economic areas. It is hoped that increasing travel in the area will speed up that growth as well as bring new talent to the area to live.

Housing Minister, Esther McVey, said:

“Today’s announcement could further boost jobs, growth and opportunities across the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, where so many of the greatest innovations in the world come from.”

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