Government confirms support for roads and East West rail link

Mothballed section of railway between Bicester and Bletchley. Picture supplied by Network Rail. PNL-170607-100011001
Mothballed section of railway between Bicester and Bletchley. Picture supplied by Network Rail. PNL-170607-100011001

Investment in transport in Oxfordshire – including the A34 and East West Rail – has been confirmed by the transport secretary.

This week Chris Grayling released the government’s new transport investment strategy which has reconfirmed the government’s commitment to invest in the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway, the A34 between the M4 and M40, and East West Rail.

The confirmation comes as Network Rail holds a series of drop-in events to seek the views of residents, businesses and passengers about the second phase of the East West Rail proposals.

Phase two of the western section of the project will introduce rail passenger services between Bedford and Oxford via Bicester, Milton Keynes and Oxford, and Milton Keynes and London Marylebone via Aylesbury.

Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) will also receive a share of cash from the national roads fund, with the amount yet to be decided.

Bev Hindle, OCC’s strategic director for communities said he welcomed the announcement, adding: “We will continue to talk to government and partners about the county’s transport infrastructure strategy to ensure the needs of future generations who live, work or travel through Oxfordshire can be met and planned for.

“As the transport secretary said, getting transport spending right is absolutely crucial which is why the county council and members of the Oxfordshire Growth Board are working on a the development of an Oxfordshire infrastructure strategy which will identify, prioritise and cost Oxfordshire’s future infrastructure to 2040. We already know that existing funding will not deliver the scale of infrastructure investment required which is why we will work together to explore alternative sources of funding.”

The East West Rail drop-in events are being held in Bicester next Monday, July 10, at the John Paul II Centre, on the Causeway, between midday and 8pm, and at Launton Sports and Social Club, on Bicester Road, on July 13 between midday and 8pm.

Dominic Baldwin, Network Rail’s project director for East West Rail, said: “We want as many people as possible to engage with our plans which will make travel across Britain easier. There are many different ways the public can participate including drop-in events, a dedicated website and an app which can be downloaded straight to their phones. I would urge anyone who has an interest in this investment in the railway to make their voices heard.”

People can also have their say online at ewrconsultation.co.uk or www.networkrail.co.uk/east-west-rail, by downloading the free mobile phone app, emailing ewrconsultation@networkrail.co.uk or sending a letter to the address FREEPOST EAST WEST RAIL CONSULTATION. The address must be in capitals.