The East West Rail Consortium, which has campaigned for the reinstatement of a railway between Oxford and East Anglia for more than 25 years, has relaunched as the East West Main Line Partnership.
Established by local authorities in 1995, the consortium has played a main role in establishing the basis for the scheme, on which subsequent work by the Department for Transport, Network Rail and the East West Railway Company has been built.
With construction of the Oxford-Bletchley and Milton Keynes section of East West Rail well under way, the partnership is championing the long-term opportunity for true coast-to-coast connectivity, achieved through an East West Main Line, with services running from Norfolk and Suffolk through to South Wales.
The partnership has six key areas of focus for the East West Main Line:
- Oxford-Cambridge: Working to support delivery at the earliest opportunity – and no later than 2030;
- Coast-to-coast connectivity: Realising opportunities east of Cambridge to Norwich and Ipswich and west of Oxford to Swindon, Bristol and South Wales;
- North-south connectivity: Including the Aylesbury-Milton Keynes link and opportunities for new journeys using intersection with main lines;
- Interchange and strategic transport hubs;
- A 21st century main line: Ensuring East West Rail supports the environment and the communities it serves. This includes making it electrified and ‘digitally-enabled’, providing digital connectivity to nearby communities, from the start;
- Freight: Ensuring East West Rail contributes to the requirements of the national rail freight strategy while also making the strongest case for prioritisation of the Felixstowe-Nuneaton corridor.
The planned route for the East West Rail project.
Cllr Steven Broadbent, chair of the East West Main Line Partnership, launched the partnership at an East West Rail conference in Oxford.
“Supporting the delivery of East West Rail between Oxford and Cambridge at the earliest opportunity and making sure there is appropriate mitigation for local communities during its construction remains fundamental to the partnership’s purpose,” he said.
“However, we have always been clear that delivery of the current East West Rail proposal should be just the beginning of the transformation in connectivity.
“That is why we are championing the ambition for an East West Main Line to truly realise the transformational potential of the government’s investment. The main line will boost the regional and UK economy and enable businesses to compete on a global scale, unlocking opportunities for residents, and reducing reliance on road vehicles to achieve net zero emissions.
“Changing our name reflects our role in championing the East West Main Line to transform connectivity across the UK, supporting the ambitions of the proposed strategic transport network outlined in the Union Connectivity Review’s interim report.
“By being even more ambitious for East West Rail, government can create one of the UK’s most truly transformational pieces of infrastructure in recent years.”