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New rail link moves step closer after achieving government support

Posted: 10 September 2019 | | No comments yet

Communities between Oxford and Cambridge in Britain are on track to be linked by rail before the end of the next decade, creating opportunities for employment and business growth across the region.

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Businesses between Bedford and Cambridge have welcomed the news that Government have declared their section of the East West Rail Project a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP). This means that following comprehensive public consultation involving local authorities across the route, the East West Railway Company (EWR Co) can apply to the Secretary of State for Transport for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to authorise the project.

East West Rail is creating a new direct connection between Oxford and Cambridge, and beyond. Serving communities across the area, it will bring faster journey times and lower transport costs as well as easing pressure on local roads.

As a double-helping of support, the scheme was also mentioned in the 2019 Autumn Spending Review when Chancellor Sajid Javid set out the Government’s spending plans for 2020-2021. The Treasury report references its continued support for the development of major transport projects including: “driving forward East West Rail links in the Oxford to Cambridge Arc”.

Richard Tunnicliffe, East of England Regional Director, CBI said: “Local business wants to see greater connectivity across the region, widening access to skills, and new opportunities for collaboration. Delivering East West Rail is a positive step to help achieve this, and this welcome news confirms Government commitment to the Oxford to Cambridge Arc and gives us all a much clearer view of the process ahead.”

Rob Brighouse, Chairman at EWR Co, added: “I fully appreciate the importance of good connectivity to support local communities. So, achieving this status as an NSIP is important because it unlocks the ability for us to secure a Development Consent Order to authorise the project. It’s brilliant to get two affirmations for the project in one week with our mention in the Government Spending Review also warmly welcomed.”

Earlier in 2019, EWR Co consulted on five possible route options for the line between Bedford and Cambridge. A full report of the consultation is expected to be published later in 2019, alongside the preferred route.

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