Hammond accelerates £100m East West Rail funding

The delayed East West Rail project received a boost in today’s Autumn Statement, as chancellor Philip Hammond announced £100m of funding to ensure the project’s delivery.

The project, a planned rail link between Oxford and Cambridge, was originally due to be finished in 2017, but was delayed until 2019 and then pushed back to CP6 following the Hendy Review.

In August, Cllr Rodney Rose, chair of the East West Rail Consortium, told RTM that East West Rail was ‘no longer’ the third most important rail project in the country after HS2 and Crossrail.

However, in a speech at the County Councils Network conference, transport secretary Chris Grayling confirmed that the government would continue to support the project.

The National Infrastructure Commission then published a report into the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor, which called it ‘a national asset’ and urged the government to bring forward £100m to ensure the Western Section is completed before the end of CP6.

Hammond confirmed today that the government will provide the accelerated funding, and also announced £10m in development funding for the central section.

The chancellor said the project was “more than just a transport link” and could become a “transformational tech-corridor” between the two university towns.

There were no new updates on Crossrail 2 or HS2, but the government confirmed that it expects construction on HS2 Phase 1 to start next year, and said it was “looking forward” to the business case for Crossrail 2.

(Image c. PA)

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Simon   23/11/2016 at 15:49

Given that there was also an announcement on a parallel road from Milton Keynes to Cambridge in terms of competition how will rail compete if this road runs in parallel with the new road. When i heard first this news I thought that the road was only being built and not the railway line, but good news on the latter all the same.

Simon   23/11/2016 at 15:51

*runs in parallel with the railway line

Lutz   23/11/2016 at 19:10

Hi @Simon The road network will be needed to service the journeys that can not be made by rail; on a national average that is about 92% of journeys based on the last figures I saw.

Jon (Aylesbury)   23/11/2016 at 20:43

Good news - all we need now for a truly joined up rail system is for the government and its advisors to finally see sense and link East West Rail to HS2 with new stations at Calvert. Blindingly obvious really.

Andrew Gwilt   23/11/2016 at 23:04

Finally. Which means that the new link between Bedford and Cambridge could be built which the preferred route will go via Sandy or bypass Sandy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/East_West_Rail_Link

Simon   24/11/2016 at 08:47

Thaks Lutz, I first heard of this on Sunday 20/11 and the BBC were implying that the East-West link was not going to be built and that the new road was going to be built instead of reopening the railway line.

Noam Bleicher   24/11/2016 at 10:51

This is good news - the £100m for Bicester-Bletchley is the same £100m the NIC asked for last week, and is to actually pay contractors and get spades in the ground. Luckily this is very different to the £27m for the road, which will be for another study. Hopefully this will produce nothing more than a glossy study, and any decisions on construction will be punted many years down the road, like they are normally for rail projects.

Noam Bleicher   24/11/2016 at 10:53

PS Lutz - there already is a road, or roads, on the Oxbridge axis which can accommodate any number of journeys. There is no need to encourage more traffic by building another one.

Huguenot   24/11/2016 at 16:54

The exiting road route is only dual carriageway between Milton Keynes and the A1, and east of Caxton Gibbett. The remainder is poor quality single-carriageway. Once the Expressway proposal gets going it may well overtake progress on East-West Rail and, as we all know, once people get into the habit of driving it is difficult to wean them back to rail. I really can't see what's so difficult about the Bicester-Bletchley section: the formation is all there -- all it wants is some track, one new station (Winslow) and the closure or replacement of a few level crossings. East of Bedford will be the greater problem because much of the route will have to be on a new alignment, and that'll take ages to get through the legal process.

Jerry Alderson   25/11/2016 at 13:54

@Huguenot: RE: Bicester-Bletchley section. One of the stupid things is that the railway we currently have is not legal and apparently needs new powers. As some of it was built outside of the limits of deviation of the original Act of Parliament, and the curve at Claydon Junction was built during WWII without any powers at all, NR believes that a TWA is needed for these. If you build a property without getitng planing permission and it is not discovered (i.e. an order is not made to knock it down) within 20 years of it being built then it is safe. I do not understand why something similar cannot apply to the railway. PS. @RTM - correction to the top of the article. The dates you give for completion relate only to Oxford-Bedford. The proposed opening date for Bedford-Cambridge is 2033.

John Grant   25/11/2016 at 17:54

Dualling the road from the A1 to Caxton Gibbet is already scheduled, see http://roads.highways.gov.uk/projects/a428-black-cat-to-caxton-gibbet/ When that's done there'll be road for half the route and a railway for the other half. If you want to drive from Cambridge to Oxford there are already routes via Northampton and via Watford, but Lord Wolfson of Aspley Guise seems to want a road that goes past Aspley Guise.

John Grant   25/11/2016 at 17:59

BTW I'm not a fan of Crossrail 2, which was also mentioned, I think Thameslink 2 would be better. Crossrail 2 may be good for Londoners, but if you're going from (say) Cambridge to Guildford you'll still have two changes (whereas from Cambridge to Gatwick on Thameslink there will be no changes).

Mick Payne   04/12/2016 at 19:12

Any need for a TWA puzzles me. My understanding is that Oxford - Bletchley was authorised by Act of Parliament in 1847. As the Claydon LNE Junc - Bletchley is disused rather than closed that Act of Parliament surely still carries authority.

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