New rail link is worth £73m a year to the economy, say expertsJul 09, 2014
The figure, from independent engineering and consultancy Arup, is almost double the initial £38 million forecast by Oxford Economics four years ago.
The forecast increase follows announcement of greater investment including electrification and track improvements. Arup says the line will substantially improve rail connections for business and leisure travel.
When the line is completed, 41 out 65 UK cities will be accessible by rail from stations on the East West Rail line, with no more than one change.
EWR Joint Delivery Board chair Cllr Rodney Rose said: “These findings serve to reinforce the extraordinary case for investment in the railway and show just how important it is to our region.”
Milton Keynes South MP Iain Stewart, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for East West Rail and Parliamentary Private Secretary for Rail, said: “It is of vital importance to our region but its importance to the UK as whole should not be underestimated.”
It will reduce journey times, increase capacity and provide an alternative route form other lines.
“This latest economic assessment clearly indicates that additional investment to enhance the line serves to strengthen the already robust case for investment,” Mr Stewart added. “It is also important that the tremendous economic value of the western section of the East West Rail is understood as this also helps in developing the business case to extend the line to Cambridge and the East Coast Mainline and for through-train services to East Anglia.”
EWQR has been developed and promoted by a consortium of local authorities and other stakeholders. The scheme for the Western Section received government support in 2011 and was confirmed as a priority scheme in the Department for Transport’s 2014-19 spending period.
It has been amended to accommodate anticipated future demand for additional passenger and freight services.
Network Rail’s director of strategy and planning Jo Kaye said:
“It is clear that East West Rail is not just a railway project, but a catalyst to deliver wide economic, social and environmental benefits. It will support economic growth in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and beyond and thousands of passengers will enjoy an improved and expanded service.”
Electrification of the line between Oxford and Bedford lead to quieter and more efficient trains and the railway will become an integral part of the national ‘Electric Spine’ from Southampton to the Midlands and further north, allowing more freight traffic to be transported by rail.
Consortium members are contributing £45 million to the scheme.