Following the recent appointment of a new commercial partner- Arcadis - the creation of a new railway connection, to directly link Oxford and Cambridge, has edged another step closer towards becoming a reality.
East West Rail is a complex project which features different sections of railway, connecting numerous communities between Oxford, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge.
Known as the Oxford-Cambridge Arc, the area is home to leading universities, life science companies, and a manufacturing group recognised for high-performance technology ad motorsport engineering.
However, there still exists 14 areas across Oxford, Milton Keynes and Bedford that make up part of the top 10% most deprived in England, with income deprivation being paramount.
The area has previously been poorly served by inadequate rail connections, with the majority of journeys having to be made by car. The project is set to bring faster journeys, lower transport costs, therefore easing pressure on local roads.
"The new rail connection will be key to creating positive, long-term industry and social legacies."
The East West Railway will provide affordable and sustainable public transport, connect communities, offer job opportunities and provide access to new homes across the region, whilst opening up a freight route between East and South coast ports, thus creating more opportunities for economic growth.
The most recent contract outlines a responsibility to generate positive social impacts for the communities between Oxford and Cambridge and the broader economy, such as supporting job creation, upskilling, and training and elevating awareness of career opportunities, especially for young people.
Acardis will retain its existing apprenticeship programme, providing up to 8 apprenticeships across a period of 4/6 years. These opportunities will focus on under-represented and disadvantaged groups.
Other commitments involve providing 120 staff volunteer days to support local projects and charity initiatives such as the Trussel Trust (a foodbank which sets out to combat food poverty).
The new partner will also visit schools across Oxford, Milton Keynes and Bedford, to support science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) activity, provide careers and CV advice, and contribute to a reduction in the skills, diversity and gender gaps facing the construction industry.
Matt Kitching, Partner and Account Lead at Arcadis, said “by connecting science parks, universities and industry, the East West Railway will support access to new opportunities that make the area more commutable, open up new job opportunities for local residents and help the economy to grow.”
He added, “as we work with the East West Rail Company to help improve journeys across the region, our role will focus on defining and improving the value that a new direct rail connection can bring.”
“From faster journey times to lower transport costs and the easing of pressures on local roads, the new rail connection will be key to creating positive, long-term industry and social legacies.”