Businesses between Bedford and Cambridge were celebrating today, as Government declared their section of the East West Rail Project a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).
This means that following comprehensive public consultation involving local authorities across the route, the East West Railway Company (EWR Co) can apply to the Secretary of State for Transport for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to authorise the project.
As a double-helping of support, the scheme also got a mention in the Autumn Spending Review when Chancellor Sajid Javid last Wednesday set out the government’s spending plans for 2020-21. The Treasury report references its continued support for the development of major transport projects including: “driving forward East West Rail links in the Oxford to Cambridge Arc”.
Communities between Oxford and Cambridge are on track to be linked by rail before the end of the next decade. The new connections will create opportunities for employment and business growth across the region. They will also provide transport for much needed new developments.
Richard Tunnicliffe, East of England Regional Director, CBI said: “Local business wants to see greater connectivity across the region, widening access to skills, and new opportunities for collaboration. Delivering East West rail is a positive step to help achieve this, and this welcome news confirms Government commitment to the Oxford-Cambridge Arc and gives us all a much clearer view of the process ahead.”
Rob Brighouse, Chairman at East West Railway Company (EWR Co) added: “I fully appreciate the importance of good connectivity to support local communities. So, achieving this status as an NSIP is important because it unlocks the ability for us to secure a Development Consent Order to authorise the project.
“It’s brilliant to get two affirmations for the project in one week with our mention in the Government Spending Review also warmly welcomed.”
Earlier this year, EWR Co consulted on five possible route options for the line between Bedford and Cambridge. A full report of the consultation is expected to be published later this year, alongside the preferred route.
More detail on the Government Spending Review is available here (page 17):