Plans to build the East-West rail link look like being delayed again

Plans to reopen the East-West rail link in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire have been included in an updated Government plan for the region.

However the Government has called for yet another report before it will commit to supporting the scheme.

In the Milton Keynes & South Midlands Sub-Regional Strategy, published on Tuesday, the Government says that running trains from Oxford to Bedford and from Aylesbury to Bletchley is “under consideration” but gives itself a 10 year window, between 2007-2016, for restoring the services.

With plans to build 169,800 new homes in the region by 2021, the report says that further proposals need to be developed and implemented alongside plans for new housing.

The Government says it will support a study that will include further examination of the long term private funding options for improving public transport along the east-west corridor.

However building what has been described as the “missing link”, which would allow trains to run from Oxford to Cambridge and on to East Anglia has been ruled out before 2021.

“East-West Rail possibilities east of Bedford can only be considered in the longer term,” says the report.

Last year consultant Steer Davies Gleave prepared a business case for the line which said passenger services on the western Section could be restored within 30 months of receiving Government approval.

On the back of these findings, the East West Rail Consortium, which represents 35 local authorities, the South East England Regional Assembly and the South East England Development Agency, submitted a bid at the beginning of the year to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for £87million to fund the reintroduction of passenger services.

Reopening the East-West rail link between Oxford and Cambridge was among the key recommendations of the South Midlands Multi-Modal Study published by consultant Faber Maunsell in February 2003.

The East West Rail Consortium says it has undertaken nine detailed studies during the last few years.

The Milton Keynes & South Midlands Sub-Regional Strategy incorporates changes to the consultation draft published by the Regional Assemblies for the East of England, the East Midlands and the South East in July 2003.

Comments on the revised draft strategy are invited until 23 December.

Information from