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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 other reports of interest to the region.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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



  • 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.

    It also called for a second consultation which included more detail on the plans..

    Read our news release on the consultation

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • Expressway strategic study Expressway strategic study

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

  • 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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