Potential rail improvements identified in new study by EEH and Network Rail

July 13th 2021

A new study which identifies the rail improvements that will boost the region’s economy has been published by England’s Economic Heartland in collaboration with Network Rail.

Realising the full potential of the Heartland’s rail network is central to achieving a transport system which supports economic growth while achieving net zero carbon by as early 2040. The study forms a key part of EEH’s work to implement its recently published transport strategy, Connecting People, Transforming Journeys.

The Passenger Rail Study Phase Two identifies 36 regional and long-distance journeys where rail is best placed to improve connectivity. It details at a high level how this could be achieved and provides the basis for the long-term rail investment plan for the Heartland.

The study follows the publication of the Williams-Shapps Plan For Rail by the Department for Transport. EEH – and the other sub-national transport bodies - are uniquely positioned to work with Great British Railways to realise the potential of our rail network.

The study shows how following completion of East West Rail between Oxford and Cambridge it will be possible to unlock a wide range of new journey opportunities via interchange with existing main lines. In addition, the study demonstrates the need to go above and beyond current planned enhancements to provide a step-change in rail connectivity in order to support the delivery of planned growth.

Mayor Dave Hodgson, chair of England’s Economic Heartland’s Strategic Transport Forum, said: “This work is an exemplar for how sub-national transport bodies and infrastructure owners can work together to understand the requirements for our transport networks and – crucially – how we can then make this happen.

“As the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail sets out, rail has a pivotal role to play in the future of the country’s transport system. In working with Great British Railways, EEH will build upon the strong working relationship we have with Network Rail and the wider rail sector.

“Working with our partners and Government we will take forward the recommendations of the study to help deliver our ambition for a decarbonised transport system which supports sustainable economic growth and unlocks opportunities for our residents and businesses.”

Carew Satchwell, head of strategic planning at Network Rail, said: “By setting up a partnership with England’s Economic Heartland at this early stage, we’ve been able to work out what rail connectivity would deliver the best economic value for passenger, freight users and local communities.

“This is a great example of how the regions that comprise Network Rail are able to work with local stakeholders to help deliver real benefits for local people.”