John has welcomed the Government’s new £760 million funding pledge to help deliver the next phase of East West Rail, benefiting people across the constituency.
This investment marks an important milestone in the delivery of East West Rail, which will provide better connectivity along the Oxford-Cambridge arc and shorten journey times between routes outside of London, stimulating economic growth and serving major new housing developments. The works between Bicester and Bletchley are expected to create 1,500 new jobs. This phase of the project will include the construction of new stations at Winslow and Bletchley as well as enhancements to existing stations along the route. By 2025, two trains per hour will run between Oxford and Milton Keynes via Bletchley.
John said: “At the 2019 general election, I was elected on a pledge to level up infrastructure across the country – and this £760 million investment in our local railway delivers on that promise. I am delighted that the Henley constituency, particularly in the north of the constitiuency, will benefit from the delivery of this next phase of East West Rail, which will help to reconnect smaller communities, regenerate local economies and improve access to jobs, homes and education. This shows how this Conservative Government is committed to building back better across every part of the United Kingdom as we recover from coronavirus.”
Alongside the new funding for East West Rail, John also welcomed the Transport Secretary’s call for bids for a share of the third and final round of the Department for Transport’s ‘Ideas Fund’, which awards up to £50,000 each to develop schemes to restore stations and railway lines.
This announcement forms part of the Government’s commitment to build back better from the Covid-19 pandemic and level up transport infrastructure across the country by investing in rail connections that will help boost economic growth, unlock new housing and create jobs and opportunity.
Also commenting on this the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps said: “Restoring railways helps put communities back on the map and this investment forms part of our nationwide effort to build back vital connections and unlock access to jobs, education and housing. Returning these routes to their former glory, and progressing work to reopen even more lines and stations, shows our commitment to levelling up journeys across the country as we build back better from the pandemic.”
Notes to Editors
The Government is levelling up our railways by:
- Investing £760 million in the next phase of East West Rail, levelling up infrastructure across the country. The new funding will create 1,500 skilled jobs and reinstate direct rail services between Bicester and Bletchley for the first time since 1968.
- Connecting Oxford to Cambridge by rail by the end of the decade, delivering value for taxpayers. To minimise the impact of construction on communities, the environment and passengers; spend taxpayer money wisely; and deliver a reliable railway as soon as possible, the East West Rail Company undertook a comprehensive review of the project. As a result we are now delivering East West Rail in three stages:
- Connection Stage One is Oxford to Milton Keynes - delivered by 2025. We may first open services from Oxford to Bletchley as part of a two-phased approach.
- Connection Stage Two is Oxford to Bedford – delivered by 2028.
- Connection Stage Three is Oxford to Cambridge – delivered by the end of the decade.
- Launching a new ‘Ideas Fund’, delivering extra funding to reopen railway lines, services and stations. The Ideas Fund will be accepting applications from local authorities, MPs and community groups for the third and final round of the Department for Transport’s ‘Ideas Fund’ until 5 March. The previous two rounds of the Ideas Fund have so far seen 25 projects awarded up to £50,000 each to develop schemes to restore stations and railway lines (DfT, Restoring your railway: successful bids, 26 November 2020).
This funding is part of the commitment to build back better after coronavirus by:
- Transforming the UK’s economic infrastructure through a new National Infrastructure Strategy and UK infrastructure bank. Next year will see £100 billion of capital investment, a £27 billion increase compared to 2019-20, taking us one step closer to achieving our objective of more than £600 billion of gross public investment over the next five years (HMT, Spending Review 2020, 25 November 2020).
- Investing more than £17 billion in our nation’s railways over the next three years. The money will be used to create extra capacity and speed up journey times on conventional railways between 2021-22 and 2023-24. It includes funding for the Transpennine Route Upgrade between Manchester and Leeds and funding to help reopen many of the lines closed under the Beeching Cuts of the 1960s (HMT, Spending Review 2020, 25 November 2020).
- Establishing a Beeching Reversal Fund of £500 million, to re-join many of the towns cut off by from the railway network during the Beeching cuts of the 1960s. The Fund will restore rail lines in the north of England and Midlands, which were cut off from the rest of the network during the 1960s (Conservative Party, Manifesto 2019, 24 November 2019).
- Giving the green signal to HS2, boosting rail capacity, connectivity and cutting journey times between our biggest cities. HS2 will form of the spine of Britain’s railways, delivering a vast increase in capacity, with hundreds of thousands of extra seats and significantly faster journey times. (Prime Minister’s Office, Press Release, 11 February 2020).