Smart Transport

DfT cancels Oxford to Cambridge expressway

The Department for Transport has cancelled plans for the Oxford-Cambridge (Ox-Cam) expressway, after analysis confirmed the proposed project was not cost-effective.

Highways England had been developing potential options for a road link between Oxford and Milton Keynes.

However, following work with local partners since 2014, the DfT said recent analysis shows the benefits the road would deliver are outweighed by the costs associated with the project.

Building on the insight already developed by Highways England, the DfT will now investigate the need for “more targeted road interventions” in the area.

The DfT said it will work closely with Highways England and England’s Economic Heartland as the sub-national transport body to develop a study on proposals.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Our analysis shows the expressway cannot deliver such links in a way that provides value for money for the taxpayer, so I have taken the decision to cancel the project.

“But we remain committed to boosting transport links in the area, helping us to create jobs and build back better from coronavirus (COVID-19).

“We will continue to work on more targeted, localised road improvements to boost transport in the region, alongside the transformational East West Rail, in which we have invested £760 million to deliver the next phase.”

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has already suggested that "more needs to be done to promote sustainable transport", for the Oxford-Cambridge Arc.

Cancellation provides clarity for future planning

Mayor Dave Hodgson, Chair of England’s Economic Heartland (EEH) Strategic Transport Forum, welcomed the news due to the fact it provides clarity for future planning.

Hodgson said: “As our Transport Strategy sets out, delivery of strategic schemes, including East West Rail and mass transit systems, such as those being developed in Cambridgeshire and Milton Keynes, alongside harnessing smart technologies and targeted investment in the road network, are all essential if we are to ensure economic growth while achieving net-zero emissions.”

Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire Council, also welcomed the news of the cancellation.

Tett added: "This is great news for Buckinghamshire and its residents.

"The expressway would have torn a large hole across some of the most beautiful countryside in the county with little benefit to local residents.

"What we need is investment in local roads, used by local people to ease congestion, not another mega project that will just bring environmental destruction."

The DfT's cancellation of the expressway is a win for environmental campaigners like Transport Action Network (TAN).

TAN is legally challenging the Government’s road building policies in England and argues that its environmental and air quality commitments are not compatible with its roads infrastructure plans.


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