East West rail link may be put back to 2024

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A railway scheme set to boost the local economy by more than £70 million a year may be shunted into the sidings until 2024, the Citizen can reveal.

The East West Rail project, designed to link MK to Oxford and Cambridge, was due to start next year with Milton Keynes Council chipping in some of the cost.

But information this week leaked from the Hendy Review into Network Rail’s enhancement programme suggests there could be severe setbacks.

This could have “huge implications” for the economy of MK, said council leader Pete Marland.

It could also put a spanner in the works for planning the future regeneration of Bletchley, he said.

Indications are that the Bicester to Bletchley and Aylesbury to MK sections will now not be completed until 2022, while the MK to Cambridge section may not come until well into the 2030s.

Said Mr Marland: “The East West Rail project is a major part of our future plans for Milton Keynes. Linking Oxford, MK and Cambridge would create thousands of well paid jobs.

“It will play a major part in the regeneration of Bletchley, with real potential for investment in the town on the back on this rail link.”

“ It is now totally unknown when some of it will be complete.”

Mr Marland admitted he is worried the situation could get even worse.

“The fact is, as with all things like this, a delay of 10 years turns into 20 years and then it never happens.”

He is now hoping MPs will put pressure on the government, who touted the link as a flagship scheme, to prevent the delays and revert to the promised timeframe.