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New Rail Line Given Go-Ahead

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2:19pm 16th July 2012

The Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt. Hon Justine Greening MP, today announced that the Western section of East West Rail (EWR) will be part of the government’s strategy for rail transport, confirming not only funding for the project but also for electrification of the Oxford to Bedford part of the route.

EWR will provide an electric link between the electrified Great Western, West Coast and Midland main lines.  This further investment in the project upgrades it to form a key part of the new ‘Electric Spine’ passenger and freight route between the South Coast, the East Midlands and Yorkshire.

EWR is a major project to promote economic growth by establishing a strategic railway that will ultimately connect East Anglia with Central, Southern and Western England.  It will be England’s first major railway re-opening with much of the route existing as freight network or disused lines.  The Western Section will link Aylesbury, Oxford and Reading with Bedford and Milton Keynes.  The route is planned to be open by 2017.

The project will feature in the Department for Transports’ High Level Output Specification (HLOS) for Control Period 5.  This document sets out the rail transport projects that the government will support.

Peter Hardy, Chairman of the East West Rail Consortium Joint Delivery Board told Mix 96: "This is fantastic news for the towns and cities that East West Rail will serve.  In providing direct links between growth areas, East West Rail will allow for more sustained economic development for these communities, creating up to 12,000 jobs and increasing opportunities for businesses to invest."

Today’s announcement follows the decision by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his November 2011 Autumn Statement that EWR funding of £270m would be made available providing that the promoter of the scheme, the EWR Consortium, met two conditions.  A strong business case for the route was required, and the case developed by the promoter along with the DfT and Network Rail was accepted as robust. The second condition was for a commitment by local authorities along the route to contribute to the cost; a ‘commitment in principle’ to contribute £50m over a period of 15 to 20 years from 2014 onwards has been agreed by the western section members of the Consortium.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

2012: East West Rail included within CP5 HLOS.

2013/14: Planning and statutory processes complete and conditional local contribution funding secured.

2014/15: Franchising specifications drawn up and full approval secured.

2015: Infrastructure procurement and contracts let

2016: Agreed franchise contract(s)

2017: Start of passenger services

 

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