England's Economic Heartland has welcomed the East West Railway Company's announcement on its preferred route between Bedford and Cambridge (January 30).
Following last year's public consultation, 'Route E' ("Bedford Midland – south of St Neots/ Tempsford area – Cambourne – Cambridge") has been selected by the East West Railway Company as the route of the scheme's 'central section', which connects to the 'western section' between Oxford and Bedford, and Aylesbury to Milton Keynes, and the 'eastern section' into Suffolk and Norfolk.
Chair of England's Economic Heartland's Strategic Transport Forum, Mayor Dave Hodgson, said: "This announcement is a key milestone towards delivering East West Rail from Oxford to Cambridge, and eastwards towards Ipswich and Norwich. It provides certainty to our local authorities, who can now examine what the chosen route means for their area, and plan ahead with confidence.
"Across the Heartland there is overwhelming support for the East West Rail project. The momentum generated by the East West Railway Company is particularly welcomed given the extent to which the project will transform travel patterns across the region, and beyond.
"Responses to our Outline Transport Strategy made clear that we must support the economy while at the same time reducing transport's impact on the environment. The need for change is now. East West Rail will be the Heartland's sustainable spine, and the wider opportunities this transformational infrastructure project creates means we have a unique opportunity to effect the change that is needed.
"We look forward to continuing our strong working relationship with the East West Railway Company as we work to maximise the potential of East West Rail for the region. This includes work to improve local connectivity to and from stations, ensuring the widest number of people and businesses can access the opportunities East West Rail unlocks. The work is driven by our ground-breaking data tools which provide us with insight on the travel behaviours of our local communities.
"Our Passenger Rail Study – commissioned in collaboration with Network Rail – will identify the opportunities for the region's wider rail network to support economic growth to the benefit of our businesses and our communities.
"We also look forward to an announcement on the TWAO for the 'western section' being made as soon as possible, allowing major construction work to begin to deliver services between Oxford and Bedford, and Milton Keynes and Aylesbury."