'Powerful case' for Norwich and Ipswich to Oxford direct rail link
PUBLISHED: 11:30 21 February 2019 | UPDATED: 11:42 21 February 2019
A direct rail link between Norwich, Ipswich and Oxford would provide a £17.5bn boost to the East Anglian economy and create tens of thousands of jobs, according to a new report.
East West Rail Consortium, a grouping of local authorities and local enterprise partnerships, which includes councils across Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, wants to see enhanced services between Ipswich and Cambridge, as well as Norwich and Cambridge, with faster journey times and more services.
Their new report makes the case saying the link would boost economic output and create 120,000 jobs across East Anglia, connecting high value economies in key growth locations in Norfolk and Suffolk with those in places such as Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Aylesbury and Oxford.
The report’s publication comes during a pivotal year for East West Rail. A public inquiry is currently being held ahead of construction of the scheme’s ‘Western Section’, linking Bedford with Oxford and Milton Keynes to Aylesbury, while a consultation is underway on route options for the ‘Central Section’ between Cambridge and Bedford.
East West Rail Consortium’s ‘Eastern Section’ prospectus calls for this to be extended to take in direct services from Norwich and Ipswich with improved journey times and service frequencies to Oxford – and potentially to Cardiff or Bristol. It also calls for the line to provide a cross-country freight link between Felixstowe and the south west and Wales.
The report argues a direct rail link would connect key industries including the burgeoning research and development sector based at locations like Adastral Park, Norwich Research Park, and the Norfolk–Cambridge Tech Corridor.
Mark Shaw, chairman of the East West Rail Consortium, said the report made an “incredibly powerful case” for investment. “East West Rail will transform the economy and boost sustainable travel options across a large swathe of the country,” he said.
Alexander Nicoll, Suffolk County Councillor and chair of the East West Rail Eastern Section Group, said: “This new rail link presents a significant opportunity for our counties to be more accessible to investors and to grow our economies.
“Improved rail connectivity will also help to reduce the number of road vehicles travelling to Cambridge and beyond, as well as provide an additional freight route from our region.
“East West Rail complements other rail schemes in Suffolk and Norfolk, for example better services to London and to the North via Peterborough.”