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East West Rail gets boost from the Budget

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4:55pm 22nd November 2017

New rail services in Bucks should be running from 2023.

As part of Budget announcements today, East West Rail was confirmed to be up and running by then.

The Treasury’s position paper states that funding will be made available for ‘Network Rail to deliver phase two of the western section of East West Rail, from Bicester to Bedford, and Milton Keynes to Princes Risborough, with the aim of the first passenger services to be running in 2023 and the project to be complete by 2024’; and that an independent East West Rail Company is being established, ‘which will seek opportunities to accelerate delivery of the central section of East West Rail between Bedford and Cambridge, with the aim for passenger services to begin by the mid-2020s’.

Councillor Mark Shaw, Chairman of the Consortium’s Western Section board (Oxford to Bedford and Aylesbury to Milton Keynes), said:

“The Chancellor’s announcement is a real cause for celebration for all those who have been campaigning for East West Rail over more than 20 years, and, of course, all of our residents and businesses who will greatly benefit from the improved connectivity and economic opportunities the line will bring.

“The Consortium was established by Ipswich Borough Council in 1995, and now includes around 20 local authorities. In many ways we were the visionaries – making the case to re-establish the old Varsity and Great Central lines based on the significant economic growth it would unlock, long before the ‘Oxford-Cambridge growth corridor’ was on the agenda.

“There have countless twists and turns in our campaign to get this vital piece of infrastructure built. But without our perseverance, we wouldn’t be where we are today. Now, finally, we know with certainty that the section between Oxford and Bedford, and Aylesbury and Milton Keynes, will be delivered by the early 2020s, with the Government pledging to accelerate delivery of the missing link between Bedford and Cambridge.

“The role of the Consortium, which is a shareholder in the scheme, does not stop here. We will continue to work with our partners during the planning approval process for the Western Section, to ensure that the impact of construction on our residents is mitigated wherever possible. We will continue to work with Network Rail as it finalises a preferred route for the Central Section. And we will continue to identify ways to improve the section east of Cambridge, to ensure that the scheme’s vast benefits are felt as widely as possible.”

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