Cancellation of the Oxford to Cambridge (Ox-Cam) Expressway

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The announcement last March of the temporary suspension of the Ox-Cam Expressway project was a strong indicator of Grant Shapps’ decision yesterday to cancel the project entirely. After all, post-pandemic, there is likely to be a significant increase in the number of people working from home. This factor, coupled with myriad others, such as: the announcement in January of East West Rail, the levelling up agenda, our ongoing need to continue to urgently reduce carbon emissions, current challenges on the public purse, and the poor value for money offered by the scheme, will all have been factors in Mr Shapps’ decision.

However, if the Arc is not to be allowed to ‘wither on the vine’, then continued investment in its development is essential. Above all else, investment in its transport infrastructure is imperative. That is the only way to ensure that interstitial towns such as: Milton Keynes, Northampton, Luton, and Bedford are able to be fully connect to the cities at the poles of the Arc, and thereby realise the benefits promised by the Arc.

Whilst it is pleasing to hear that the DfT acknowledges the ‘vital role that transport investment has to support sustainable growth’, and we all eagerly await the essential arrival of East West Rail in 2025, I am concerned about any further delay to hear what the DfT’s plans are for ‘More targeted road interventions’.

Talks on the Ox-Cam Expressway first started in 2014, but our economy’s post-pandemic recovery needs to happen right now. If we have to wait another seven years to hear the DfT’s plans, then Arc Business will not be able to play their parts fully in that recovery. Therefore, I urge the DfT to prioritise planning and to make its announcements quickly.