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East-West rail link represents once in a generation opportunity

16 November 2016

A report calling on the Government to seize a "once in a generation opportunity" and invest in “essential” new transport links has been welcomed by the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP).

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) today published a report claiming the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford corridor could be "Britain's Silicon Valley" but warned that it risks being overtaken by international competitors if better rail links are not put in place to support it.

The report urged the government to go ahead with the initial phase of East West Rail, a new link that would cut journey times by more than half from Oxford to Bedford to Milton Keynes, and ensure that it is delivered before 2024.

The commission also said the government should invest in developing detailed plans as soon as possible with the "specific intention of securing the tens of thousands of new homes this area needs".

Ann Limb, chair of SEMLEP, said: “We welcome the interim report published today by the National Infrastructure Commission on the potential for the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford Corridor’s potential to be a high knowledge growth area of global significance.

“The report is extremely positive about the Corridor’s growth prospects and highlights the need for the Government to support this potential by investing in the improvement of east-west communications through the East West rail and Oxford to Cambridge Expressway projects.

“I welcome the challenge that the report gives to all organisations in the area to work together to develop a range of proposals to help deliver the growth and economic prosperity referred to. We can become Britain’s Brain Belt – and this is a step in the right direction.”

The report builds on the outcome of an infrastructure summit held by SEMLEP at Towcester Racecourse last month, which heard that Housing and Transport planning must continue to work together to ensure the necessary infrastructure is in place to deliver ambitious growth plans across the South East Midlands. 

NIC deputy chairman Sir John Armitt said: "To succeed in the global economy, the UK must build on its strengths. The corridor connecting Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford could be Britain’s Silicon Valley – a globally recognised centre for science, technology and innovation.

"East West Rail and the Oxford-Cambridge Expressway can be a catalyst to bring the region together to deliver the housing and connectivity it will need to compete with the best in the world. This is a once in a generation opportunity – we must grab it with both hands."

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