Estimates suggest that the project would have cost £3.5bnMarius Sebastian/Unsplash

Grant Shapps, the Secretary for Transport, has today (18/03) announced the cancellation of the Oxford-Cambridge (Ox-Cam) expressway as “analysis confirmed the proposed project was not cost-effective.”

This comes as preparations for the expressway were paused last March, as estimates suggested that the project would have incurred a cost of £3.5bn, with the construction of around a million new homes forming part of the project.

Shapps said that “the expressway cannot deliver [transport] 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”.

Meanwhile David Hodgson, Liberal Democrat Mayor of Bedford and Chair of England’s Economic Heartland (EEH) Strategic Transport Forum, has welcomed the announcement as he believes it “provides clarity to those planning for the region’s future between Oxford and Milton Keynes.”

Hodgson continued: “delivery of strategic schemes [...] alongside harnessing smart technologies and targeted investment in the road network, are all essential if we are able 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.”

Daniel Zeichner, Labour MP for Cambridge, has also lauded the cancellation of the expressway which he deems to have been a “last-century approach to a 21st century challenge”.


Mountain View

Concerns voiced over Oxford-Cambridge Expressway

Zeichner told Varsity that “after years of dither and obfuscation, the Government is finally playing catch-up on Labour policy. This is great news. The Expressway has been highly controversial. Massive new road-building is exactly the wrong approach when we face a climate crisis. What we need is a non-diesel East-West rail-link between Cambridge and Oxford.”

The government meanwhile remains committed to the East West Rail scheme in order to provide “critical infrastructure within the Oxford-Cambridge Arc”, pledging £760 million towards the next phase of the scheme in January.

The scheme aims to “re-establish a rail link between Cambridge and Oxford to improve connections between East Anglia and central, southern and western England”.

It is estimated that the scheme will create 1,500 skilled jobs, reinstating direct rail services between Bicester and Bletchley for the first time since 1968.