Investment in transformational infrastructure – particularly East West Rail and mass rapid transit, supported by high quality first mile, last mile provision– is central to supporting the region's residents and businesses.
Securing the right service offer is crucial, given the varied work patterns of our communities and the need to unlock opportunities for all, including those in rural areas with limited access to the public transport network.
The offer to the travelling public must be of the highest possible standard – safe, clean and high quality, and accessible to all. We need to restore confidence, not just for the short term, but the long term.
We will champion the importance of ensuring our transport system is inclusive by design, allowing people to travel with confidence and ease through well designed physical infrastructure and accessible information to help aid journey planning.
What we're doing
Our work includes...
Rail Passenger Study (2020 and 2021)
Working with EEH, Network Rail has conducted a baseline assessment and review of the existing rail network and levels of service in the region, published in 2020.
This process has enabled EEH to identify and understand where significant rail connectivity gaps exist, what rail enhancements are in development or delivery and what decarbonised/non decarbonised services there are on the network.
EEH's Passenger Rail Study Phase Two published in June 2021, identifies and prescribes aspirational service level outcomes for priority journey pairings where analysis demonstrated stronger connectivity by rail would generate a significant return on investment.
We will use the output from this to prepare Conditional Outputs that set out the requirements of the region to be reflected in amendments to existing passenger franchises and/or in preparation for concessions.
East West Rail (ongoing)
East West Rail is the transformational investment for our region. Though each section of East West Rail brings with it benefits to the communities it serves, the full transformational benefit will only to be realised through the creation of the East West Main Line in full, including the link to Aylesbury and the section to the east of Cambridge.
England's Economic Heartland provides officer and administrative support to the East West Rail Consortium, which is actively developing the longer-term ambition for the East West Main Line.
This builds upon the work that the Consortium has done in the past and the framework set out within our Transport Strategy. The Consortium is working with both EEH and Transport East to ensure that the wider connectivity east of Cambridge is reflected in the work of both STBs.
The Consortium has also been supporting Oxfordshire County Council and its partners to take forward work that is looking at potential solutions for the London Road crossing at Bicester – this is a strategic infrastructure issue linked with realising the longer term potential for East West Rail.
Bus Back Better (ongoing)
In March 2021, the government launched Bus Back Better, the national strategy for buses in England. Bus Back Better has at its core the aim to rejuvenate local bus services, making them attractive for passengers, cheaper, easier to understand and use, faster and more reliable, and greener.
Bus Back Better is the most significant change in the landscape for local bus services in England (outside London) since 1986 deregulation. Greater emphasis is being placed on partnership working, with local authorities and bus operators required to form statutory partnerships that can define bus networks, service levels, and fares strategies. The government expects all Local Transport Authorities to develop Bus Service Improvement Plans (BSIPs) and set up Enhanced Partnerships (EPs), as defined in the Bus Services Act 2017.
EEH has a long standing commitment to buses. Through the EEH Bus Operators Association, our Strategic Transport Forum has been keen to create a long-term plan to support the role of scheduled bus and coach services in the region. The publication of the National Bus Strategy, and the focus on producing BSIPs, provides the opportunity for the region to further develop its ambition for buses.
EEH is now working with local authority partners and the EEH Bus Operators Association to support the development of Bus Service Improvement Plans, identify key strategic intra-regional bus routes and lead options for pan-regional ticketing and integration solutions.
Oxfordshire Rail Corridor Study (2021)
On June 30 Network Rail published the Oxfordshire Rail Corridor Study (ORCS). ORCS looks in detail at the county’s predicted growth in jobs and housing over the next two decades and presents an industry vision for how the rail network can best support it.
The study was funded by the Department for Transport, Oxfordshire Growth Board, East West Rail Consortium and England’s Economic Heartland. The study has been a collaboration with industry partners and helped develop an overarching strategy for rail development in the area.
ORCS has recommended several potential future improvements to improve connectivity across Oxfordshire. Priorities include increasing capacity through Oxford station; reopening the Cowley branch line; and additional infrastructure to provide greater capacity in and around Didcot, including the proposal for a new station at Wantage/Grove, subject to additional main line infrastructure. The study’s recommendation has been drawn together to form an overarching industry strategy for the county known as ‘Oxfordshire Connect’.
Other work includes
- Supporting partners as they develop proposals for mass rapid transit - including in Cambridgeshire, Milton Keynes and Hertfordshire
- We are continuing to work with the West Coast Partnership to ensure the Heartland's requirements are reflected in discussions on the allocation of released capacity
- We are working with promoters of proposals for Restoring Your Railway to identify strategic linkages and where these exist support those proposals when they are submitted
Relevant consultation responses
East Midlands Rail Franchise consultation response.pdf February 2020
EEH Old Oak Common consultation response (PDF 96KB).pdf November 2017
Relevant blogs/ news
Relevant Forum papers