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England’s Economic Heartland urges investment in six infrastructure projects

East west rail

England’s Economic Heartland (EEH) has launched a “Call for Action”, urging the government to commit to six infrastructure projects across the region spanning Swindon to Cambridgeshire.

In total, the group has called on the government to provide assurances over six mooted infrastructure projects; four rail and two road.

Making funds available to deliver high capacity fibre/ 5G along the East West Rail line is among the priorities identified, as is resolving the conflict surrounding a level crossing in Bicester.

The group has also urged government to “commit to using the delivery of East West Rail and HS2 as the opportunity to introduce a new north-south passenger service connecting Northampton, Milton Keynes, Aylesbury, High Wycombe and Old Oak Common”.

Deliver Cambridge South Station within three years as well as commit to investing in the A1(M) corridor and the delayed A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet road scheme are also identified as priorities.

Speaking at the England’s Economic Heartland conference Highways England senior planning manager Ian Parsons said that he “understands the frustrations” around the delayed Black Cat scheme – which has been pushed back into the next funding period.

He added: “People are understandably annoyed with the delay to the Black Cat scheme. However we are committed to delivering it and we will be, with work now due to start in 2021/22.

“With us working on the Cambridge to Huntingdon route, it does make sense for everyone not to have two massive road schemes ongoing at the same time. When that opens in 2020, we can then start on Black Cat.”

Opening the conference, EEC chair Martin Tett said that “infrastructure of the whole corridor is necessary” to drive economic growth in the area.

“We need to ensure that government, local authorities and business are moving in the same direction on this,” Tett said. “That is why we are seeking insurances over what we have identified as key schemes.”

He added: “We have congested roads, country lanes which need expanding and potholes everywhere.

“There is plenty to be done away from the big projects as well and we want long terms assurances that we will receive the investment needed.” 

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