Potential interventions to improve the transport system between Swindon, Didcot and Oxford have been identified in England’s Economic Heartland’s third connectivity study, published today.
Produced after extensive stakeholder engagement and compliant with DfT transport appraisal guidance, the study provides clarity on investment opportunities which EEH and its local authority partners can now seek to progress.
The Swindon-Didcot-Oxford area is globally renowned for its strengths in science and technology, containing some of the region’s most important assets – however, the study found that poor connectivity between economic and population centres, and high rates of congestion, are currently holding back its potential.
Interventions recommended by the study are aimed at increasing economic growth while reducing emissions to net zero by 2050. They include measures to ensure the right traffic is on the right roads, reduce congestion in Swindon and Oxford, support the uptake of EV vehicles, boost rail connectivity and increase use of active travel and public transport, while reducing the impact of freight on the environment and communities.
The Swindon-Didcot-Oxford study’s recommendations include:
- Improvements to bus services and infrastructure on the A420 and A34, alongside junction and safety improvements on these strategic roads.
- Reinstating Oxford-Swindon-Bristol direct services on the Great Western Main Line and the extension of East West Rail services to Bristol via Swindon.
- Potential for a new station near Wantage and Grove.
- Cherwell Line capacity improvements between Oxford and Didcot.
- Improved cycling routes in key urban areas.
- Measures to encourage freight from the A420 to use the strategic road network.
- Safeguarding of rail freight terminal sites and the enhancement of the rail freight terminal in Swindon.
When tested using a strategic land use model the packages of interventions resulted in an increased use of rail, bus and active travel in their respective study areas, alongside economic and decarbonisation benefits.
Alongside outputs from other technical work, the recommendations will be considered for inclusion in EEH’s revised investment pipeline, which will act as a concise, evidence-based way of communicating regional priorities.
EEH’s next two studies, ‘Thames Valley-Bucks-Milton Keynes-Northampton’ and ‘Southern east-west corridor’ are expected to complete at the turn of 2023/2024, while work has just commenced on the final study, Luton-Bedford-North Northants.