Transport Secretary announces Oxford-Cambridge expressway cancellation in UK


The UK Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps has announced the cancellation of the Oxford-Cambridge (Ox-Cam) expressway, following confirmation of the project not being cost-effective.

The decision was made after recent analysis showed that the costs to the project outweighed the road benefits.

Building on the insight already developed by Highways England and local partners, the Department for Transport (DfT) will explore the need for more focussed road interventions in the region.

The DfT will be working with Highways England and the strategic alliance of England’s Economic Heartland to develop a proposal study, which will also aid the spatial framework. 

The East West Rail scheme is fundamental for delivering crucial infrastructure within the Ox-Cam Arc, as it not only improves connectivity but also ushers in new job opportunities in the area.

The government committed a funding of £760m in January 2021 to deliver the next phase of East West Rail. This will, in turn, help create 1,500 skilled jobs while reinstating direct rail services between Bletchley and Bicester after a gap of over 52 years.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The Oxford-Cambridge Arc is home to cutting-edge research, globally renowned science and technology clusters and some of the most productive places in the country – we want to make sure it has transport fit for such an important region.

“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.”

England’s Economic Heartland (EEH) Strategic Transport Forum chair and Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “This is a welcome announcement that provides clarity to those planning for the region’s future between Oxford and Milton Keynes. 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.

“Work on EEH’s Oxford to Milton Keynes connectivity study begins in March 2021. We will work with partners and government to explore the connectivity needs of this important corridor and identify the solutions required to support sustainable growth for the long term.”


The UK Secretary of State for Transport has announced the cancellation of the Oxford-Cambridge expressway. Credit: Matt Seymour/Unsplash.


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