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Responses and reports

England's Economic Heartland regularly responds to external reports and consultations, ensuring the region's voice is clearly heard on matters of strategic importance.

On this page you'll find our positions on a wide-range of topics and issues, alongside our own publications and presentations, and other reports of interest to the region.

  • Major Road Network consultation Major Road Network consultation

    As part of the Transport Investment Strategy, the Government committed to creating a Major Road Network (MRN).

    Its consultation, which runs from December 23, 2017 to March 19, 2018, says Sub-national Transport Bodies (STBs) such as England's Economic Heartland would play an important strategic role in the MRN.

    The consultation asks for views on:

    • how to define the MRN
    • the role that local, regional and national bodies will play in the MRN investment programme
    • which schemes will be eligible for MRN funding

    The Government says a new MRN would help deliver the following objectives:

    • reduce congestion
    • support economic growth and rebalancing
    • support housing delivery
    • support all road users
    • support the Strategic Road Network

    The creation of an MRN will allow for dedicated funding from the National Roads Fund to be used to improve this middle tier of the busiest and most economically important local authority ‘A’ roads.

    The consultation says that STBs would be 'responsible for developing a Regional Evidence Base which would be the basis for the development of a national MRN Investment Programme. Where STBs exist we expect that the Regional Evidence Base would be developed from the existing Statutory Transport Strategies for which STBs are responsible'.

    The four Sub-national Transport Bodies have given an unprecedented joint response to the proposals:

    Four STB's Joint Response to Major Road Network Consultation (PDF 327KB).pdf

    England's Economic Heartland has also provided an indiviual response:

    EEH individual Major Road Network Consultation Response (PDF 528KB).pdf

    Major Road Network Consultation (PDF 8MB).pdf

    DfT indicative Heartland MRN map.jpg

  • NIC Partnering for Prosperity NIC Partnering for Prosperity

    ​In November 2017 the National Infrastructure Commission released its final report on the Oxford-MK-Cambridge growth corridor.

    It said that the arc must be made a national priority.  Its world-class research, innovation and technology can help the UK prosper in a changing global economy.

    However, without urgent action, it said a chronic under-supply of homes could jeopardise growth, limit access to labour and put prosperity at risk.

    The National Infrastructure Commission’s report makes recommendations for securing the Arc’s long-term economic success, delivering improved infrastructure and new homes to create places where people will want to live and work.

    Read England's Economic Heartland's initial reaction to the NIC report.

    NIC Partnering for Prosperity (PDF 4.4MB).pdf

  • Planning for Growth Planning for Growth

    ​Our position statement, published in October 2016, sets out the Strategic Transport Forum's vision for the Heartland, why it is so important for the UK economy, and where we want to see investment.

  • Treasury Policy Paper: Helping the CaMkOx corridor reach its potential Treasury Policy Paper: Helping the CaMkOx corridor reach its potential

    ​Alongside the Autumn Budget 2017, and following the National Infrastructure Commission’s recent report, the government published its overarching vision for the Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford corridor to stimulate economic growth in the national interest. It invites stakeholders from across the region to engage over the next 12 months to turn this high-level vision into a strategy that is capable of being delivered through an integrated programme of infrastructure investments, housing and business growth.

    The policy paper also states that the government will commission England’s Economic Heartland to study how communities not on the Oxford to Cambridge expressway itself can still benefit from it.

    We are delighted to be asked to take forward this work, which would form part of our over-arching Transport Strategy. It is a vote of confidence in the Strategic Alliance.

    See our initial Budget response in full

    Helping the CaMkOx corridor reach its potential (PDF 300KB).pdf


  • East Midlands Rail Franchise East Midlands Rail Franchise

    The Strategic Transport Forum responded robustly to plans to reduce rail services in Bedford, Luton and Wellingborough,  which are at odds with the region being a focus for long term growth.

    Our response said the proposals will have an 'unacceptable impact on passengers using services in the Heartland' and will 'significantly impact' on journeys from towns within the region to destinations north of Wellingborough by introducing a requirement to change at Kettering.

    This is 'inconsistent with the role of Bedford as a hub for interchange both with Thameslink services and in future, services on East West Rail. Passengers from either service intending to travel northwards on the Midland Main Line would be required to change twice – at Bedford and Kettering – in quick succession'.

    The Transport Forum also requested a minimum of four trains per hour calling at Luton Airport Parkway providing services to both London, as well as Bedford and key stations to the north.

    In March 2018, England's Economic Heartland chairman Cllr Martin Tett wrote to Chris Grayling calling the timetable changes 'perverse' and inviting the Secretary of State to meet with him in person to discuss how the issue be addressed.

    Read our news release on the consultation



  • EEH's strategic rail investment priorities EEH's strategic rail investment priorities

    This paper, published in December 2017, confirms our strategic rail priorities as:

    • Delivery of East West Rail in full
    • Addressing capacity constraints on the Didcot – Oxford corridor (which would need to be considered alongside issues associated with the parallel strategic road corridor);
    • Addressing capacity constraints on the ‘Cambridge corridor
    • Realising the opportunities to improve north-south connectivity on the Northampton – Milton Keynes – Bletchley – Aylesbury – High Wycombe – Old Oak Common/Park Royal corridor.

    EEH Strategic Rail Investment Priorities - Dec 2017 (PDF 255KB).pdf

  • EEH's strategic road investment priorities EEH's strategic road investment priorities

    ​In September 2017 the Strategic Transport Forum produced a paper setting out our position on strategic road investment priorities for the region.

    See our transport section for more information

  • Great Western Franchise Great Western Franchise

    In November 2017 the DfT asked for views on future services across the Great Western network. The consultation covered a range of issues for both the medium and longer term, including:

    • How services can be improved
    • What a future franchisee should be expected to prioritise

    In its consultation response, EEH said improving capacity between Oxford and Didcot should be a key objective for the next Great Western Rail Franchise.

    The new franchise is also an opportunity to consider how direct rail links can be restored between Swindon and the wider Heartland, alongside improved connectivity with other communities to the west of Didcot.

    Read our news story on the consultation response.

    DfT Great Western Franchise consultation (PDF 1.5MB).pdf

    EEH Great Western Consultation response (PDF).pdf


  • Heathrow expansion Heathrow expansion

    England's Economic Heartland Strategic Alliance welcomed the Government's decision identifying Heathrow Airport as the preferred location for providing additional runway capacity in the London airport system.

    It is important that, in addition to providing support for Heathrow Airport, the final National Policy Statement provides for the continued expansion of Luton Airport as part of the London airport system.

    With Heathrow located on the doorstep of the Heartland area, its good news for improving our access to global markets, helping our businesses remain competitive and remaining an attractive location for inward investment.

    Clearly, we expect that sufficient safety and environmental protection measures will be included within the plans and that delivering improved public transport connectivity to the airport will be integral to the proposals as they emerge.

    In March 2018 England's Economic Heartland responded to a consultation on expansion and airspace changes.

    Below, the Government's short video on benefits of Heathrow expansion

  • Oxford to Cambridge 'expressway' Oxford to Cambridge 'expressway'

    UPDATE April 2018

    England's Economic Heartland chairman Cllr Martin Tett has written to the Secrretary of State for Transport outlining concerns over the approach to engagement and failure to fully take into account the wider transformational agenda, such as East West Rail, housing growth and other projects.

    The letter said: "We appreciate that the expressway is a complex and sensitive project. However, that emphasises the critical importance of meaningful engagement with the key stakeholders. Our collective experience to date has been to leave us feeling that the approach is little more than a ‘tick-box’ exercise, with no sense that our views are either heard or acted upon. If we are to successfully deliver this significant highway investment it has to be developed collaboratively. That requires a fundamental change by the project team as to how they engage with key stakeholders. We are also concerned that Highways England’s approach with the ‘expressway’ study fails to take into account the wider transformational agenda."

    It added: "We share your commitment to ensure that the work to identify strategic transport priorities is taken forward at pace. However it is critical that work on individual elements firmly sits within the wider strategic context. For that reason we question whether the evidence base exists to enable a preferred corridor for the ‘expressway’ to be identified this summer."

    Letter to Secretary of State on expressway April 2018.PDF

    Strategic Study 

    The findings from the Department for Transport’s Oxford to Cambridge expressway strategic study.

  • Strategic Road Network Initial Report Strategic Road Network Initial Report

    ​In December 2017 Highways England published and consulted on its Strategic Road Network (SRN) Initial Report.

    The initial report is the first step in the process for the Department of Transport setting its second Road Investment Strategy (RIS2) for the period from 2020 to 2025.

    It sets out:

    • Highways England’s assessment of the current state of the SRN
    • its potential future needs
    • their proposed priorities for RIS2

    In its consultation response, EEH said:

    • RIS2 should include funding to enable commencement of works for RIS1 projects (2015-2020) - expressway, Black Cat-Caxton Gibbet and A1(M) improvements.
    • It supports study of potential benefits of upgrading entire A1 to motorway standard, and calls for a new strategic study for RIS2 looking at longer-term requirements of the Major Road Network supporting the Cambridge economy.
    • Improved east-west connectivity is crucial and should not be limited to a single corridor. EEH supports proposals to improve connectivity from A505 to A1(M) by extending the A5-M1 and M1-A6 routes across the A505.
    • Schemes in the A404 corridor should be progressed during the later stages of RIS1 and through RIS2.
    • Other issues of strategic significance, worthy of a study, include improvements to junctions on the M1, M11 and M40 corridors.

     EEH said it desires a continued involvement in shaping the SRN and Major Road Network (MRN) in and around the Heartland. We noted that the consultation states Sub-national Transport Bodies will be statutory partners in both the road and rail investment process and this was welcomed.

    The consultation report also correctly identified the role the Sub-national Transport Bodies have in supporting growth, and that the realisation of the economic potential of the Heartland is a priority for the UK.

    The SRN strategy in RIS2 and beyond must take account of both user and business needs, safety, journey time reliability, and a feeling of control are important to users of the SRN. Business requirements and wider economic growth will need to be facilitated by both ongoing operation, maintenance, and renewal of existing infrastrure, and delivery of truly transformational schemes which will change how and where we travel, and the pattern of economic growth.

    It must be recognised that the SRN does not operate in isolation, and therefore emerging proposals for the MRN and understanding of first mile/ last mile requirements should be factored into thinking. Longer term technological advances will change the way we think about travel, and therefore planning in RIS2 must be resilient and consider future RIS periods.

    Highways England Strategic Road Network Initial Report December 2017 (PDF 15MB).pdf

    Strategic Road Network Initial Report EEH consultation response (PDF 338KB).pdf


  • Transport Investment Strategy Transport Investment Strategy

    ​England's Economic Heartland Strategic Alliance welcomed the Government's Transport Investment Strategy, published in July 2017.

    The Alliance's Strategic Transport Forum had previously welcomed the recommendation of the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund to identify a Major Road Network (MRN).

    The strategy sets out plans to give 'special recognition' to the 'busiest and most economically important local authority A roads' by creating an MRN.

    A proportion of the vehicle excise duty-funded National Roads Fund will be allocated for investment in the MRN and there will be a 'key role for Sub-national Transport Bodies in its management at a regional level.

    The report says Sub-national Transport Bodies will bring about 'fundamental change' and will be given 'unprecedented access' to Government decision-making on national investment priorities.

  • Aviation Strategy Aviation Strategy

    The Strategic Transport Forum welcomed the opportunity to submit its initial views in order to help shape the UK’s future aviation strategy.

    The Forum supports the six proposed objectives, with this response highlighting why priorities such as: ‘building a global and connected Britain’; ‘encouraging competitive markets’; ‘supporting growth’ and ‘developing innovation, technology and skills’ are so important to the Heartland.

    Our response includes sections on Luton and Heathrow airports.

  • Old Oak consultation Old Oak consultation

    ​Old Oak and Park Royal is one of London’s largest Opportunity Areas and one of the largest development sites in the country, with the ambition to deliver a whole new centre and community for west London which includes 25,500 new homes and 65,000 jobs.

    From 2026 HS2, the Elizabeth line and National Rail services are expected to call at a new Old Oak Common station and the area will benefit from excellent east – west rail connections, including to central London and Heathrow Airport.

    The Strategic Transport Forum fully supports the principle of the Old Oak Common regeneration proposal, particularly the transport hub and the opportunities for connectivity/interchange improvements.

    It is essential that the new rail station and interchange facilities at Old Oak Common support connections that improve connectivity along the Northampton to Old Oak Common axis. This axis is of strategic importance to the Heartland if the area is to realise the economic potential identified by the NIC. The Strategic Transport Forum has set out its support for improved rail access to the growth hub at Old Oak Common/Park Royal as set out by the London Mayor in his draft Transport Strategy.

    The strategic case for promoting improved north-south connectivity (in particular along the Northampton – Milton Keynes – Aylesbury – High Wycombe – Old Oak Common corridor) has been set out in the recently published Network Rail Route Strategy for Chilterns and East West Rail. Delivery of East West Rail infrastructure, in combination with the opening of HS2 (providing relief to the current West Coast Main Line), provides the opportunity to improve connectivity along this axis, linking up a number of urban areas that are centres of economic and housing growth.

    Old Oak consultation leaflet (PDF 1.9MB)

    EEH Old Oak Common consultation response (PDF 96KB)

  • Strategic Vision for Rail Strategic Vision for Rail

    ​In November 2017 the DfT published its strategic vision for railways, including plans to end the operational divide between track and train and an evolution of the franchising system.

    The proposals also include commitments to expand the railway network to boost housing and economic growth, and deliver major passenger benefits – including rolling out improved compensation schemes for passengers.

    Connecting people a strategic vision for rail (PDF 3.8MB).pdf

  • Highways UK Conference 2017 presentations Highways UK Conference 2017 presentations

    ​England's Economic Heartland exhibited at the Highways UK Conference 2017, held at the NEC from November 8 to 9. We also gave a number of presentations. You'll find the slides here, and links to the accompanying videos.

    1. Cllr Martin Tett, Chairman of England's Economic Heartland, speaking at 'Beyond the SRN, progress towards better regional and local networks'.

    Martin Tett presentation Highways UK, 8 November 2017 (PDF 1MB)

    Watch the recording

    2. England's Economic Heartland update briefing. This includes Director Martin Tugwell on 'Realising our economic potential'; Innovation lead officer James Golding-Graham on 'Data and the future of transport network innovation'; and Delivery Partner Liaison Steve Kent on 'Delivering the Heartland's vision: a private sector perspective'.

    Strategic Alliance Update Briefing Highways UK, 9 November (PDF 1.2MB)

    Watch the recording

    3. Director Martin Tugwell's presentation as part of the 'Multi modal travel panel'.

    Martin Tugwell multi modal travel panel transportation presentation Highways UK, 8 November (PDF 909KB)

    Watch the recording

  • Mayor of London's Transport Strategy Mayor of London's Transport Strategy

    In summer 2017 the Mayor of London released his draft Transport Strategy.

    Our response emphasised that London's strategic infrastructure requirements must be balanced with that of the wider south-east, which is experiencing housing pressures on a similar scale to the capital and whose economy will continue to significantly contribute to UK Plc with the right investment.

    However, the Heartland's strategic needs are in many cases also of strategic importance to London, for example, improving east-west connectivity will give people an alternative to travelling into London, and free up capacity.

    We stressed that a collaborative approach on matters of strategic significance is essential and in the best interests of transport users and businesses across the greater South East.

    The Forum welcomed the identification of infrastructure corridors such as that between Oxford and Cambridge, and reference to the need for longer trains to serve Luton Airport as part of the Thameslink programme, and for the provision of a new automated people mover to better connect Luton Airport with the rail network.

    However, the Forum warned against any proposal that would result in further devolution of responsibility to the Mayor for local rail services operating between the Heartland and the capital.

    It also wants more details on the practical implications of the suggestion that regional and national public transport schemes should be integrated into London's public transport system.

    Read our news release on the consultation



  • Mobility Strategy for Milton Keynes Mobility Strategy for Milton Keynes
  • A Major Road Network for England: Rees Jeffreys report A Major Road Network for England: Rees Jeffreys report

    An independent study for the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund identified 3,800 miles of council-controlled 'A' roads in England that deserve special recognition because of their importance to the economic wellbeing of regions and the country as a whole.  

    The report - A Major Road Network for England - said there was no need to transfer control of these additional 'A' roads to Highways England.

    But it argued that, while these roads remain under local authority management, they need long-term planning and funding commitments comparable to those now in place for the Strategic Road Network. This will help ensure they become fit for purpose, alongside the SRN.   

    The Government accepted the report's recommendation and said Sub-national Transport Bodies (which EEH is committed to becoming) will have a key role in the new MRN's management.

    The Strategic Transport Forum will identify an MRN for the region as part of its work on the Transport Strategy, using the MRN identified in the Rees Jeffreys report as the foundation for this work.

  • East West Rail TWAO Summer 2017 East West Rail TWAO Summer 2017

    The Strategic Transport Forum responded to the summer 2017 consultation on phase two of the Western Section of the scheme, from Aylesbury to Milton Keynes, and Bicester to Bedford.

    Our response referenced the National Infrastructure Commission's report which identified East West Rail as part of a 'once-in-a-generation' opportunity to create a transport spine along the Oxford – Milton Keynes – Cambridge corridor.

    We also explicitly identified how the scheme opens up the opportunity to improve north-south connectivity – in particular along the Northampton – Milton Keynes – Aylebsury – High Wycombe – Old Oak Common corridor, facilitated by the opening of HS2 in 2026. 

    The Heartland's response emphasised that the full scope of the Western Section, including an upgraded Marston Vale line to Bedford and stops at Aylesbury Vale Parkway and Winslow, must be delivered as a minimum.

    This is necessary to provide the confidence in East West Rail that allows Local Plans to be prepared with greater certainty and gives confidence to private sector investors that they can plan their developments on the basis that East West Rail will be there.

    Network Rail's consultation website is at

  • National Infrastructure Commission interim report National Infrastructure Commission interim report

    The Strategic Alliance welcomed the National Infrastructure Commission's interim report on the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge growth corridor, which recognised the huge potential of the Heartland area.

    The Commission said that there is a need for a step change in strategic leadership - and the Strategic Alliance was established in response to public and business sector leaders recognising this need.

    The report recognises the Strategic Alliance's work to date on strategic transport and there is clear future commitment to look at the broader infrastructure agenda.

    We agree with the NIC that this is a 'once in a generation' opportunity to deliver a 'multi-modal transport spine' across the Heartland area.

  • Chilterns Route Study Chilterns Route Study

    ​England's Economic Heartland Strategic Alliance welcomed the publication of Network Rail's West Midlands and Chilterns Route Study in summer 2017, which recommended connecting the Chiltern mainline to Old Oak Common.

    The study sets out how demand on the Chiltern line has increased in the last decade, and will grow further with major housing development in Aylesbury, Bicester and Princes Risborough. However, the Chiltern Line's London terminus at Marylebone is approaching its maximum capacity.

    The study therefore recommends connecting the Chiltern mainline to Old Oak Common, which when it opens in 2026 will be one of London's major transport hubs and an interchange for the Heathrow Express, Crossrail, HS2 and the Great Western mainline.

    This would result in up to four additional trains per hour into London while offering passengers greater choice when travelling into the capital.

    The study was produced in partnership with England's Economic Heartland. For many years the Alliance partners have promoted East West Rail as a critical piece of strategic infrastructure to enable economic growth. Connecting the Chiltern mainline to Old Oak Common further strengthens the strategic importance of the scheme, which will enable north-south services from Milton Keynes to Aylesbury and onto London via Princes Risborough.



  • A1 East of England strategic study A1 East of England strategic study

    The findings of the Department for Transport’s A1 East of England strategic study.

  • M25 South-West Quadrant strategic study M25 South-West Quadrant strategic study

    The findings of the Department for Transport’s M25 south-west quadrant strategic study.

  • Smart power Smart power

    The Strategic Alliance welcomed Ofgem's Upgrading Our Energy System Plan, published in summer 2017, as a step forward in laying the foundations for innovation and regulatory change across the energy industry. We will be exploring the opportunities for change as presented in this report and how it can be applied across the Heartland area. 

    The Plan discusses the development of a smart, flexible energy system that will save costs for industry providers and consumers. These changes could encourage innovative new businesses, putting the UK at the forefront of exporting new smart energy technologies to the rest of the world. 

    This is particularly good news for England's Economic Heartland, as we seek to get a full picture of key issues that local authorities and the business community is facing in terms of securing timely and adequate utilities infrastructure to meet the existing and future growth agenda.

  • Life Sciences Industrial Strategy Life Sciences Industrial Strategy

    ​The report, written by Life Science's Champion Professor Sir John Bell, provides recommendations to government on the long term success of the life sciences sector. It recommends infrastructure to support life sciences clusters, including East West Rail.

  • Strategic Transport Forum papers Strategic Transport Forum papers

    ​The Strategic Transport Forum is held in public and we publish all its papers online. They contain a wealth of information on our work.

    Forum papers

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