Green light for rail link

IT could be full steam ahead for a long-awaited rail line which will see trains running between Milton Keynes and Oxford within five years.

The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister last week gave the green light for the scheme which will link Bedford, Milton Keynes, Aylesbury and Oxford.

A report argued rail and road links were vital in tackling rising congestion.

It had been expected that work on the line would not start for several years, but the East-West Rail project has been brought forward with the completion date set for 2011.

The urgency of the city's rapid expansion on the transport networks is a factor in bringing the work forward.

Dr Phyllis Starkey, MP for Milton Keynes South West, pictured right, said: "I am extremely glad the ODPM recognises the need for significant

investment in transport infrastructure to meet the needs of local people now and in the future.

"I urge Milton Keynes Council and MK Partnerships to work together to raise as much private funding from developers to help support this project."

The study by the ODPM looked at ways of improving transport within South Midlands.

The East West Rail Consortium has also completed a study of its own which they say has identified ways of funding the railway and making it happen.

The consortium's chairman Neil Gibson said: "We are all delighted at the ODPM's announcement to back this project which is key to ensuring there are good transport links for these major development areas.

"Although the Government cannot commit funding at this time, the ODPM has welcomed our ongoing work to identify alternative sources of private sector funding and they have agreed to work with us to develop the project further."