East West Rail Gets Final Go-Ahead
|The Secretary of State for Transport, the Rt. Hon Justine Greening MP, has announced that the Western section of East West Rail (EWR) will form part of the government's strategy for rail transport.
This means that funding for the project, including electrification of the Oxford to Bedford part of the route, has now been confirmed.
EWR, a major project to promote economic growth by establishing a strategic railway, will ultimately connect East Anglia with Central, Southern and Western England. It will be England's first major railway re-opening and much of the route already exists as freight network or disused lines. The Western Section will link Aylesbury, Oxford and Reading with Bedford and Milton Keynes and it is planned that this part of the route will be open by 2017.
The project will feature in the Department for Transport’s High Level Output Specification (HLOS) for Control Period 5 which sets out the rail transport projects that the government will support.
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Peter Hardy, Chairman of the East West Rail Consortium Joint Delivery Board said: "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."
The 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 on condition 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.
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