Oxford to Cambridge motorway project canceled as transport secretary seeks alternative plans to improve transport in the region

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Oxford to Cambridge motorway project canceled as transport secretary seeks alternative plans to improve transport in the region


  • The highway from Oxford to Cambridge was officially canceled after a hiatus last March
  • in-depth analysis and local engagement show that the highway would not be profitable for the taxpayer
  • The government will continue to work on alternative plans to boost transportation connectivity in the arc, in addition to providing the transformational East West Rail train.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps announced today (March 18, 2021) the cancellation of the Oxford-Cambridge (Ox-Cam), after the analysis confirmed that the proposed project was not profitable.

Highways England had developed potential options for a road link between Oxford and Milton Keynes. However, following close work with local partners since 2014, recent analysis shows that the benefits that the road would bring are outweighed by the costs associated with the project.

Building on the knowledge already developed by Highways England, the Department for Transport (DfT) will now explore the need for more targeted road interventions in the region, recognizing the vital role that transport investments have in supporting sustainable growth in the region, as noted by the National Infrastructure Commission. The DfT will work closely with Highways England and the Economic Center of England as a sub-national transport organization to develop a study on the proposals, which will also support the space framework.

The East West Rail program remains essential to provide critical infrastructure in the Oxford-Cambridge arc, not only by improving connectivity, but also creating new jobs and opportunities for the people of the region. In January, the government announced a funding commitment of £ 760million for the completion of the next phase of East West Rail, which will create 1,500 skilled jobs and restore direct rail services between Bicester and Bletchley for the first time since 1968.

Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps said:

The Oxford-Cambridge Arc is home to cutting-edge research, world-renowned science and technology hubs, and some of the most productive places in the country – we want to make sure it has suitable transportation for such an important region.

Our analysis shows that the highway cannot provide such links in a way that offers good value for the taxpayer, so I made the decision to cancel the project. But we remain committed to strengthening transport links in the region, helping us create jobs and rebuild better from the coronavirus (COVID-19).

We will continue to work on more targeted and localized road improvements to boost transport in the region, alongside the East West Rail transformation, in which we have invested £ 760million to achieve the next phase.

Mayor Dave Hodgson, president of the Economic Center of England (EEH) Strategic Transport Forum, said:

This is a welcome announcement that clarifies the matter for those planning the future of the region between Oxford and Milton Keynes.

As our transport strategy indicates, the implementation of strategic programs, including the East West Rail and public transport systems, such as those under development in Cambridgeshire and Milton Keynes, as well as the operation of Smart technologies and targeted investments in the road network, are all essential to ensure economic growth while achieving net zero emissions.

Work on EEHThe Oxford to Milton Keynes Connectivity Study begins in March 2021. We will work with partners and the government to explore the connectivity needs of this important corridor and identify the solutions needed to support long-term sustainable growth.

In February, the government launched the process of developing a long-term Oxford-Cambridge arc: a spatial framework, including transport policy, for local and national planning, and to inform investment decisions so that together, government, local authorities and communities can unlock the long-term potential of the area in a sustainable way, enhancing the arc as a place to live and work.

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