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 Main Line Partnership, which is actively developing the longer-term ambition for the East West Main Line.
Bus Study (ongoing)
EEH has a long standing commitment to buses. Working with the EEH Bus Operators Association, we have 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 bus service improvements plans, 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.
Buses - additional DfT funding (ongoing)
The DfT has confirmed there is additional in-year funding for STBs for work on four specific areas, including buses. Work will be progressed jointly with neighbouring STBs.
For buses, a joint submission was made with Transport for the South East (lead STB) and Transport East.
This has a three-stage approach:
- Triage of local transport authority needs to identify further support needed through workshops and questionnaire
- Prioritisation of areas for support in each of the STB geographies through local transport authority workshops, a multicriteria assessment framework and engagement with key stakeholders, as appropriate, in each area
- Implementation of agreed work packages in each STB geography covering knowledge sharing, regional evidence base development, and increased local capability provision.
It is likely that the project scope will evolve further once engagement with DfT and wider partners has taken place.
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
Consultation responses/ correspondence
East Midlands Rail Franchise consultation response.pdf February 2020
EEH Old Oak Common consultation response (PDF 96KB).pdf November 2017
Board/ Forum papers
Strategic Transport Leadership Board 24-09-21 Item 7 Regional Bus Study 240921