Progress Report – Special Edition: Chancellor’s Autumn Statement

On Tuesday 29th November the Chancellor announced that the western section of East West Rail project is now part of the National Infrastructure Plan.

The East West Rail route will run from Reading to Bedford and the vision is, in the future, on to Cambridge, providing a direct route and removing the need for interchange in London. It will use existing and disused track, with two new stations due to be built on the line. Work will progress subject to two conditions:

The business case is sound
Suitable local contribution is agreed with Government

The EWR Consortium, made up of local authorities and interested private sector businesses will now work with Network Rail and the rail industry, along with the Department for Transport to ensure the conditions are met by Spring 2012 and beyond this, move forward with the practical detailed steps to plan and deliver the railway on the ground.

Government see EWR as an innovative and leading edge collaborative approach to promoting and delivering key infrastructure to help unlock economic growth, jobs, and new homes – ‘localism in action’.

East West Rail is important as it will connect businesses, people, and markets, providing a strategic corridor that helps businesses to grow, develop and compete in local and global markets. It will provide good value for money, offering a Benefit Cost Ratio of 6.3:1 and offers environmental benefits, providing an attractive alternative to the car, easing pressures on congestion and associated air quality issues. It will create 12,000 new jobs and support up to 70,000 new homes in addition to reducing journey times to major centres.

This news is a great boost to the scheme and demonstrates the results of all the hard work that has been put in. Response to the news has been extremely positive;

Buckinghamshire County Council Leader Martin Tett was delighted with Mr Osborne’s announcement.

What a fantastic vote of confidence in this region. East-West Rail will bring jobs and economic growth to Buckinghamshire and the other counties involved, which is excellent news, especially for our young people.

Mr Iain Stewart MP, who established and chairs an All Party Group on East West Rail, said:

I am delighted that the Chancellor has recognised how vital the East West Rail Line is in stimulating economic growth in our region. As a long standing champion of this project, I am thrilled that we could see trains running on this line by 2017.

Cllr David Robertson, Deputy Leader at Oxfordshire County Council said,

The East-West project will re-establish a strategic railway linking Reading, Oxford and Aylesbury with Milton Keynes and Bedford providing a major boost for businesses and residents alike.

In addition to supporting Oxford’s role as a major centre of economic growth, the improved connections provided by East-West rail will support economic growth in the Science Vale and Bicester areas. And by providing an attractive alternative means of travel, the project will help manage pressure on the A34 corridor through the county. Already recent investment in the capacity of the rail corridor through Oxfordshire is seeing more freight being moved by rail.

Oxfordshire County Council, a leading member of the East-West Rail Consortium, had been working with local MPs to push for the project to be included in the Government’s 2014-19 railway investment programme.

Ann Limb, Chair of South East Midland Local Enterprise Partnership said,

This is fantastic news for people jobs and communities across the SE Midlands. Connecting our key towns and rural communities is an essential pre-requisite to the private sector-led growth our local enterprise partnership is championing. Being able to travel by train from Oxford through Bicester to Milton Keynes and Bedford opens up massive opportunities for economic growth and prosperity across our area.