It is important to recognise that East West Rail is not just about improving east-west connectivity: it is integral to improving connectivity across the country.
The intersection of East West Rail with the historic main lines centred on London provides a unique opportunity to provide new travel opportunities that are not only more relevant to residents and businesses across the region, but which avoid the inconvenience of having to travel into/out of London.
East West Rail between Oxford and Cambridge intersects radial lines including the West Coast Main Line, Midland Main Line and East Coast Main Line. East West services from Ipswich to Cardiff would further increase linkages with other radial lines.
The East West Main Line therefore has the potential to significantly improve north-south connectivity, putting passengers within a single interchange of all corners of mainland Britain.
It could significantly reduce the need for people to travel into London for a connecting service, resulting in time savings and economic benefits, as well as releasing capacity in the capital.
The link from Aylesbury to Milton Keynes is an integral element of the East West Main Line.
It provides a key connection that will support future growth, improving connectivity in a way that reduces demand on the road network. It links the economic cluster centred on Milton Keynes with the planned growth centred on Aylesbury. The capacity released by HS2 could unlock new direct journeys on the West Coast and Midland Main Lines in conjunction with East West Rail, notably from Northampton to Old Oak Common via Milton Keynes, Aylesbury and Wycombe.
There is also a case for direct services to Southampton, via Oxford, as well as from Nottingham and the East Midlands cities to Oxford and beyond.
The East West Main Line also has the potential to improve surface access to airports including Heathrow, Birmingham, Luton, East Midlands, Norwich and Stansted.
However, realising these benefits will require significant strategic planning around capacity allocation, timetabling and investment in new infrastructure. Given the long lead-in time for rail, this planning must begin now.