A £500 million project to reopen a former rail line has been given a multi-million boost from Cherwell District Council.
At a meeting of the full council last night (Monday, 21 October), councillors agreed to a local contribution of £4.353 million towards reopening the Oxford to Cambridge line, known as East West Rail.
The scheme is being delivered under a consortium of regional authorities, including Cherwell, who have pledged to collectively raise £50 million towards the overall cost of the £500 million project.
Cherwell’s leader Cllr Barry Wood, who is a member of the East West Rail Strategic Delivery Board, said: “It has been a long held ambition of the local authorities along this former rail route to see this line reopened. Not only would it improve transport links for those towns running along the line, the reopening of the track will create economic growth, prosperity and jobs.
“This line will run through parts of Cherwell, including Bicester, which will be subject to major growth in the future so work to reopen this line and support this expansion could not have come at a better time.
“At Cherwell we are putting our money where our mouth is and demonstrating our financial commitment to ensuring the delivery of the East West Rail project becomes a successful reality.”
The restoration of the existing line will create significantly faster rail journeys between towns along the route, including a reduced journey time of ten minutes between Bicester and Oxford, which currently takes approximately 25 minutes.
In autumn 2011 the Government announced it was committed to developing the new East West Rail link between Oxford, Bicester, Aylesbury, Milton Keynes and Bedford, subject to a consortium of local authorities contributing £50 million towards the cost of the scheme. The remaining project costs would be met through the Government’s rail funding mechanism, known as the High Level Output Specification.
Once all the local contributions are confirmed, further discussions will take place with the Department for Transport on how to progress the delivery of this project.