East West Rail ‘opens up new job opportunities’

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A CONSORTIUM promoting the new East West Rail Link via Winslow and Bicester says the electrification of the line will boost the economy and open up new job opportunities.

The East West Rail Consortium – made up of local authorities and businesses – welcomed last week’s announcement by Transport Secretary Justine Greening over electrification.

The line had originally been envisaged as a diesel-powered link between Oxford, Aylesbury, Milton Keynes and Bedford. But electrification will allow East West Rail to be part of the Government’s proposed ‘electric spine’ linking existing radial routes.

Consortium chairman Peter Hardy said stepping up a gear from a local rail link would boost opportunities for economic growth by providing short-term construction jobs, giving existing businesses improved access to employees and customers, and attracting new firms.

He also said he expected East West Rail’s economic benefits to exceed Oxford Economics’ 2011 estimate of £38million a year.

Mr Hardy said: “The railway also opens up more inter-county job opportunities, for example giving people from Oxford and Bicester public transport access they didn’t have before to jobs in Milton Keynes.

“East West Rail gets rid of the cul-de-sac railways of Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire – where you can’t get any further north than Aylesbury or go east from Bicester.

“What’s more, add the rail link to Heathrow from the west, proposed by 2021 and access to one of the world’s busiest airports will be much easier.”

Rodney Rose, deputy leader of Oxfordshire County Council and deputy chairman of the East West Rail Consortium board, said communities would benefit from cleaner, quieter trains.

“While there will be some diesel passenger trains from Aylesbury, most trains will be electric: quieter, cleaner and better for the environment,” he said.

“Generally, train operators prefer electric trains; they’re more efficient, wear and tear is less, and they’re cheaper to maintain and operate.”

The line is due to open in 2017.