The government has announced its preferred route for the central section of East West Rail (EWR) that could result in a significant boost for transport connectivity across the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.
It is a major step forward for East West Rail which, if approved, will provide a rail line that represents opportunities to boost ‘innovation corridor’ and improve passenger access.
The preferred route could see the new line run from Bedford to Cambridge, serving a number of new stations along the route.
Now, the government will make a final decision on whether or not to take the project forward, and to make an application for a developed consent order (DCO).
The minister responsible for East West Rail is Paul Maynard. He was in Cambridge along with fellow minister George Freeman following the announcement and both welcomed the progress made on a project that is vital in improving connectivity in the region while supporting economic growth.
The East West Rail Company will now develop more detailed route alignment proposals, in consultation with local communities.
Mr Freeman commented: “East West Rail has the potential to improve rail links to support the opportunities for new housing, reduce congestion and pollution and unlock the economic potential across the region.
“By boosting rail connectivity, we can improve access to economic opportunities for people in this area and boost the quality of life in this vital arc.”
East West Rail is an ambition to revitalise 21st century connectivity on the former route of the Varsity line; it is apt that the preferred route has been announced given it is one of the lines closed during the Beeching cuts, many of which are set to be reversed thanks to a £500 million investment from the government.
Paul Maynard said that the announcement, and funding to bring back the lines lost in the 1960s “shows we’re backing up our commitment to improving access to opportunities across the country.”