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NIC raises concerns about Oxford-Cambridge rail and road links

East west rail

The National Infrastructure Commission fears that the East West Rail line and the Oxford to Cambridge will be unable to unlock the full economic potential of the Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford corridor.

In its 2019 Annual Monitoring Report, the NIC expressed concerns about whether the East West Rail line and the Expressway will unlock sites for new housing and transport developments in the region.

The report recommends that the government improves integration of the transport schemes and housing developments.

“There have been no requirements made of local authorities to develop long term transport strategies to complement strategic east-west connections and enable the development of the arc’s towns and cities, nor has government moved to establish pipelines of long term infrastructure projects, conditional upon housing delivery milestones,” says the report.

“The Commission would welcome a clearer timeline from both central government and local partners for the decisions required to develop more housing in the arc in combination with transport schemes.” 

At present, the western section of the East West Rail line between Oxford and Bedford is currently under construction, and the central section from Bedford to Cambridge is currently at the public consultation stage with five route options announced last month.

In addition, the East West Rail Consortium has submitted its business case for an eastern extension of the Oxford to Cambridge route to Ipswich and Norwich. The consortium claims better rail links between Ipswich, Norwich and Oxford would unlock £17.5bn for the East Anglian economy.

The Oxford to Cambridge Expressway is set to run alongside the planned East West Rail line.

Last year, the then transport minister Jesse Norman announced the expressway would be open by 2030, shaving 40 minutes off the journey time between the two cities.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Nearly every planning application for new homes in Oxfordshire provokes a storm of protest- public meetings, demonstrations, lobbying of local councillors etc frequently followed by public enquiries (where the only winners are the lawyers!). Either the government should change the planning system or perhaps use the New Towns Act to get the new houses built otherwise there will be decades of indecision and obfuscation.

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