Find out more about our work as the region's Sub-national Transport Body
For the latest information on England's Economic Heartland's position on East West Rail, see our report to the December 2018 meeting of the Strategic Transport Forum: Agenda Item 7 - East West Rail.pdf
For England's Economic Heartland's position on the Rail Review, see our December 2018 report to the Strategic Transport Forum: Agenda Item 6 - Rail Review.pdf
One half of the region's transport 'spine', East West Rail will see train services restored between Oxford and Cambridge, and from Aylesbury to Milton Keynes.
The 'Western Section', from Oxford to Bedford and Aylesbury to Milton Keynes, is due to be completed in the early 2020s.
The Central Section, from Bedford to Cambridge, is more challenging, as parts of the old Varsity Line have been built over. However, at the Autumn Budget 2017, the Government said it was aiming to accelerate the opening of this section to the mid-2020s.
Opportunities to enhance the capacity east of Cambridge are also being explored.
The Strategic Transport Forum believes it is essential that the Government continues to invest in developing and then delivering the Central Section at the earliest possible opportunity. Local Plans are being put in place to guide growth up to 2031 and confidence in the delivery of East West Rail is necessary in order to enable councils to plan for growth.
Delivery of East West Rail also opens opportunities to achieve a step-change in connectivity north-south, via Northampton-Milton Keynes-Aylesbury-Wycombe-London, including improved linkages with Heathrow Airport and Old Oak Common.
Priorities will be developed in more detail as work on the overarching Transport Strategy is taken forward. However, based on our current understanding, the immediate strategic issues are:
The Strategic Transport Forum is also working with its partners to ensure the Heartland's strategic requirements are reflected in future franchises.
The Forum is commissioning a short piece of technical advice which will consider whether the current rail passenger franchising map adequately supports the strategic objective of improved connectivity across the Heartland. The concern is that the current approach to franchising is too heavily influenced by services to/from London.
EEH Strategic Rail Investment Priorities - Dec 2017 (PDF 255KB).pdf
For more information log onto the East West Railway Company's website
East West Rail route map.jpg
For the latest information on England's Economic Heartland's position and work on the expressway and connectivity study, see our Expressway and Connectivity Study.pdf report for the Strategic Transport Forum (published December 2018).
For the latest information on our position on the MRN, see our December 2018 report to the Strategic Transport Forum: Agenda Item 5 - Major Road Network 20181207.pdf
The expressway is a key strategic transport project for the Heartland area, forming a multi-modal transport spine for the region along with East West Rail.
In September 2018, the Government announced that its preferred corridor for the 'western section' of the expressway between Oxfordshire and Milton Keynes would broadly follow the East West Rail link.
The expressway is a complex and sensitive issue and it is critical that there is now detailed consideration of the route, led by strong evidence and meaningful engagement. A full public consultation is expected to be held in 2019.
The Government has commissioned England's Economic Heartland to study how communities not on the Oxford to Cambridge expressway itself can still benefit from it. This will be delivered in three phases, with the first two phases due to be completed to inform our draft Transport Strategy to be published in summer 2019. This will include identification of key corridors. The third phase, development of proposals, will be commissioned post June 2019.
Issues of strategic importance will be developed in more detail as work on the overarching Transport Strategy is taken forward. However, based on current understanding, the immediate strategic issues are:
Ensuring that the Department for Transport's RIS1 (Road Investment Strategy, for the period 2015-2020) commitments, such as the A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet scheme, are delivered in full.
Ensuring that investment priorities identified as a result of the strategic studies undertaken as part of RIS1 are programmed in RIS2 (post 2020) and taken forward into delivery - while a new study focussing on Cambridge should also be undertaken.
Ensuring that any additional investment priorities are determined on a joint basis between Highways England and the Strategic Transport Forum.
A key driver for identifying additional investment priorities will be the identification of the Major Road Network. These are strategically important local authority A roads which deserve special recognition because of their importance to the economic wellbeing of regions and the country as a whole. A proportion of the National Roads Fund will be allocated to them.
The work to identify the Heartland's major road network forms part of the development of the overarching Transport Strategy. Without prejudicing the outcome of this work, corridors that have been identified as potentially being of strategic significance, on the basis of their contribution towards enabling the delivery of planned growth, include:
The A43/A45 corridor
The A505 corridor
The A47 corridor
The A14 (Thrapston and Brampton)
Alongside the expressway, two other strategic studies which affects the Heartland region have been carried out by the Department for Transport. These schemes should be taken forward for delivery from 2020.
A1 East of England: Highways England continues to consider the options to address to improve the section between the M25 (Junction 1) and Peterborough (Junction 17). The Starategic Transport Forum is of the opinion that whilst there is a need to address current deficiencies there is also a need to consider opportunities for planned growth along this corridor that are being brought forward the Local Plan process. In taking work on this corridor forward it is important to also consider the linkages with the expressway work. It is essential that consideration of improved connectivity is not limited to a single corridor. It is on this basis that the Forum supports proposals to improve connectivity from the A5o5 to the A1(M) by extending the A5-M1 and M1-A6 routes across to the A505, and consider it to also be a priority for the Heartland. A1 East of England Strategic Study (PDF 17MB) A1 and expressway final stakeholder reference group presentation Oct 2017 (PDF 4MB).pdf
M25 South West Quadrant: The strategic study appraised options for improving the performance of the transport network across all modes in and around the M25 South West Quadrant. It recommends that the focus of future work should not be on widening the existing road. Instead, attention should be given to how to reduce pressures and provide parallel capacity to relieve the motorway network. It said this should work first to find alternatives to travel, or to move traffic to more sustainable modes, but added that the volume of travel means that road enhancements are also likely to be needed.
M25 southwest quadrant strategic study (PDF 4MB)
Given the scale of economic opportunity in and around the immediate Cambridge area, the Strategic Transport Forum is promoting the need for a new strategic study for the RIS2 period, one specifically targeted at looking at the longer-term requirements of the Major Road Network supporting the Cambridge economy. If commissioned as a priority at the start of the RIS2 period it may be appropriate to identify some initial funds to enable implementation of the funding at the tail end of the RIS2 period.
In addition, in terms of Highways England's network issues that should be identified as being of strategic significance include:
EEH Strategic Road Investment Priorities - Sept 2017 (PDF 231KB)
> Read Antony Swift's latest blog on the freight study worshop here <
The freight and logistics needs of businesses in and around the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge growth corridor is the focus of a major new study commissioned by England's Economic Heartland.
The study is examining freight's impact on road and rail corridors both now and in the future. Pinch-points which may benefit from investment are being identified along with a range of other considerations.
Its findings, recommending measures to capitalise on short to long term opportunities, will inform England's Economic Heartland's over-arching Transport Strategy, due to be published in draft form next summer.
The study is the first piece of work to be commissioned through England's Economic Heartland's Strategic Delivery Partners group, following the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding. The East West Rail Consortium is also contributing towards the cost of the paper, which will be produced by WSP and Jacobs with specialist input from Transport Systems Catapult.
The impact of economic and housing growth is a key consideration, as will a review of emerging technologies that may bring new more efficient approaches to the sector.
There will also be analysis of the opportunities for transferring goods from road to rail, including the movement of construction materials. Special consideration will be given to East West Rail's freight potential.
For more information about the study, contact Antony Swift at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Strategic Transport Forum for England's Economic Heartland allows partners to work together with one voice when formulating and executing the transport infrastructure strategy for the entire region with representation from district to national levels.
More information and agenda papers can be found here
For the latest information on our Transport Strategy see the report to the Strategic Transport Forum: Agenda Item 3 - Transport Strategy.pdf (December 2018).
The Transport Strategy will be the blueprint for future strategic transport investment across the Heartland area.
A draft strategy will be ready for consultation in 2019.