East West Rail could boost regional economy by £73m – report reveals
The Western Section of the East West Rail section could boost the regional economy by £72.7m per annum, almost double the £38m forecast by Oxford Economics in 2010, a new assessment has revealed.
Conducted by independent engineering and consultancy firm Arup, the economic review attributes the significant increase to greater investment in the scheme, including electrification and other track improvements, and the benefits of the proposed service patterns and destinations served.
It also identified that the East West Rail line, which will connect Aylesbury and Oxford with Milton Keynes and Bedford by March 2019, will substantially improve rail connections for business and leisure travel.
The scheme for the Western Section of East West Rail received government support in 2011 and was confirmed as a priority scheme to be delivered in the Department for Transport’s five-year spending period 2014 to 2019. Since then further enhancements to the line have been identified to accommodate anticipated future demand for additional passenger and freight services.
It is expected that electrification of the line between Oxford and Bedford will enable cleaner, quieter and more efficient trains to operate, and the railway will become an integral part of the national ‘Electric Spine’ from Southampton on the south coast to the midlands and intermodal hubs in the north east of England.
Cllr Rodney Rose of Oxfordshire County Council and chair of the East West Rail (Western Section) Joint Delivery Board said: “We have always known that East West Rail will bring substantial benefits to our region.
“These findings serve to reinforce the extraordinary case for investment in the railway and show just how important it is to our region. Consortium members are contributing £45m to the scheme which represents serious value for money when you consider the benefits.”
The East West Rail scheme was originally developed and promoted by a consortium of local authorities between East Anglia and Oxfordshire aimed at improving transport links within the region and connections to the rest of the UK. When the line is finally completed 41 out 65 UK cities will be accessible by rail from stations on the East West Rail line, with no more than one change.
Jo Kaye, director of strategy and Planning for Network Rail, said: “It is clear that East West Rail is not just a railway project, but a catalyst to deliver wide economic, social and environmental benefits. It will support economic growth in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and beyond and thousands of passengers will enjoy an improved and expanded service.”
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