East West Rail plan involving Milton Keynes and Bedford included in Government Growth Plan 2022

Announcement follows report outlining need for £5bn Oxford to Cambridge railway line to be delivered in full
The East West Rail project is still on track following a government announcement on FridayThe East West Rail project is still on track following a government announcement on Friday
The East West Rail project is still on track following a government announcement on Friday

East West Rail has been included in the list of key infrastructure projects in the Government’s Growth Plan announcement on Friday.

The announcement followed news that businesses including AstraZeneca and KPMG had collaborated on a new report outlining the need for the £5bn Oxford to Cambridge railway line to be delivered in full.

Produced by the East West Main Line Partnership, the report stresses the importance of the railway to businesses in the region.

Serious doubts emerged over the latter stages of East West Rail after the Cabinet Office’s Infrastructure and Projects Authority said they appeared unachievable and former Transport Secretary Grant Shapps admitted he would like to scrap them.

But the government, under newly elected Prime Minister Liz Truss, confirmed the project was still on track.

Beth West, chief executive officer, East West Railway Company, said: “We were pleased to see that EWR appeared on the list of projects Government is keen to accelerate.

"At EWR we believe that local people living and working in the communities in and around Oxford, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge, deserve reliable, sustainable and affordable public transport that links them to their jobs, families and friends.

“The EWR team is passionate about making life better for the communities we serve by connecting people to the things that really matter. EWR will offer cleaner, faster travel between home and work and opportunities for days out, reducing journey times, traffic congestion and pollution. We are delighted at the prospect of delivering the benefits of this fantastic new line for hundreds of thousands of people.”

East West Rail is a major project to establish a strategic railway connection linking Oxford and Cambridge via Bicester, Milton Keynes, and Bedford, largely using the track line of the old Varsity line.

The first section of the rail link, which upgraded the railway between Oxford and Bicester, was completed in 2016.

The second 21-mile (33km) £760m Bicester to Bletchley stretch, which began in 2020, is on time and on budget.

The last two sections from Bletchley to Bedford and from Bedford to Cambridge are said to be still in planning, and dependent on final government funding and approval.