East-West Rail Link Support

15 August 2011, 05:46

Heart's been told there's a lot of support for a rail link connecting Oxford and Reading with Milton Keynes.

With a year to go until we find out if the East-West Rail Link will be accepted onto the government's 2014 to 2019 railway investment programme, the head of the consortium behind the scheme says, so far, they have only positive reaction to it.

The railway would carry passengers from Reading to Bedford via Oxford and Milton Keynes and from Milton Keynes into London Marylebone via Aylesbury and High Wycombe.

The complete route would eventually link Ipswich, Norwich and Cambridge with the Thames Valley.

A recent independent report by Oxford Economics has found reinstating existing track and upgrading the line could generate £38 million a year for the UK economy.

Neil Gibson, Chairman of the East-West Rail Consortium, said:

"Oxford Economics have confirmed what we have been saying to Ministers and Whitehall officials: that investment in East-West Rail is a great deal for the taxpayer, for business, the travelling public, and for supporting economic growth."

The multi-million pound project is expected to create 12,000 jobs, make the Oxford-Bedford corridor attractive to businesses and encourage more people to travel by train rather than by car.

A trip from Oxford to Milton Keynes would be 35 minutes on the train as opposed to 60-90 minutes by car, while Oxford to Bedford would be 65 instead of 90-120 minutes.

Oxford Economics' report says the project fits well with the UK's National Infrastructure Plan and will help the South achieve its share of job creation.

The East-West Rail Consortium is a group of local businesses and councils keen on improving access to Milton Keynes and East Anglia.

They are hoping to get on the government's rail investment programme, which is due to be announced next summer.