Company launched to oversee plans for rail link to Oxford

PUBLISHED: 11:38 21 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:38 21 December 2017

Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Chris Grayling at Cambridge North Station with Meliha Duymaz, route managing director, Network Rail and Jamie Burles, managing director, Greater Anglia. Picture: Keith Heppell

Secretary of State for Transport, Rt Hon Chris Grayling at Cambridge North Station with Meliha Duymaz, route managing director, Network Rail and Jamie Burles, managing director, Greater Anglia. Picture: Keith Heppell

Iliffe Media Ltd

A direct rail link between Cambridge and Oxford took a step closer as transport secretary Chris Grayling launched the East West Railway Company.

Mr Grayling launched the new company, which will oversee the restoration of the link between the two cities, nearly 50 years to the day since the closure of the old Varsity Line at the historic Second World War site of Bletchley Park.

He said: “We are making the biggest investment in the railways since Victorian times to meet the growing demand for rail travel, while also boosting business and increasing productivity.

“East West Rail is the perfect example of how we can revitalise the railways, grow the network and unlock jobs and housing growth. And Bletchley Park – the home of the Second World War codebreakers – is the perfect location to mark the historic occasion, because the line will be key to the development of this corridor as a world-class centre for innovation, technology, and high-skilled jobs.

“East West Rail will be one of the country’s most strategically important rail projects, with its direct link through the corridor dubbed the UK’s own ‘Silicon Valley’ when it is completed in the mid-2020s.

“The new line will also create a direct link between East Anglia and central and southern England, delivering benefits for passengers and businesses, regional and nationally, by unlocking additional housing and economic growth.”

Mr Grayling met with Rob Brighouse, interim chair of the East West Railway Company, and council leaders for the launch.

Mr Brighouse said: “This railway has huge potential to spread prosperity all the way along the line, making life better for those who live and work here.

“That’s why it’s so important to deliver it quickly and cost effectively; and that’s what the East West Railway Company has been set up to do.

“We are working very closely with local representatives, to make sure we build a railway that works for the passengers and the communities it will serve.”

Cllr Ian Bates, on behalf of the East West Rail Consortium, said: “We welcome the formal launch of the East West Railway Company and its real emphasis on accelerating delivery of the Oxford to Cambridge link in support of economic growth.

“The consortium has played a pivotal role getting us to this point, and we have pledged to continue working in partnership to ensure there are trains on tracks at the earliest opportunity.”

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