Connectivity Studies Overview

Since March 2020, the world has changed significantly. People are making different travel choices and businesses and services are operating more flexibly as technology opens up new ways of delivering and accessing services and opportunities.

These changes provide the opportunity for us to plan a different future: one where travel remains a necessity but not at the same time each day and not necessarily as frequently.

Planned correctly, and with public transport supported to grow to pre-pandemic levels and beyond, the opportunity for change is significant.

The connectivity studies are not intended to be ‘traditional’ transport studies. Instead, EEH is working with partners and stakeholders to set the desired outcomes for the defined study area from which we can collectively identify the investment requirements that are needed.

Taking this approach ensures that, as we plan connectivity in the future, we are doing so in a way that can achieve the region’s long-term ambitions. The outputs from the study will be taken forward as part of the investment pipeline associated with the transport strategy.

We are seeking to develop a comprehensive evidence base for the studies and develop a clear position on the opportunities and challenges that need to be addressed.

They will put the step change in approach set out in our transport strategy into action, taking a more holistic approach to the way connectivity improvements are planned. The studies are multimodal and will encompass both physical and digital connectivity.

The programme of studies was developed using evidence from previous engagement exercises, and in collaboration with partners. The programme and its ambitions are set out in the regional transport strategy, which was subject to a public consultation and integrated sustainability appraisal.

EEH is now commencing its first two studies: Oxford-Milton Keynes; and Peterborough-Northampton-Oxford. Building on the principles of the transport strategy, the outputs will help identify measures that can deliver our ambitions in a balanced programme of interventions.

The package(s) of measures identified in the studies will inform EEH’s investment pipeline. Each study will be guided by a steering group of partners, including local authority and local enterprise partnership representatives, ensuring the views of partners are well represented.

One of the first stages of the studies is to define the connectivity outcomes for each corridor, capturing in parallel some in-depth analysis of the issues and opportunities that exist.

To inform this, EEH held a call for evidence open to members of the public throughout June 2021.The first two studies will conclude in spring 2022, when a report will be published setting out the package of interventions which can then be developed into business cases.

EEH is planning 10 connectivity studies in total, with Swindon-Didcot-Oxford and London-Buckinghamshire-Milton Keynes-Northampton the next corridors to follow in due course (funding and resource dependent). All the studies will take account of existing studies at a local, regional and national level to ensure work is joined-up and avoids duplication.

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