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Partnership welcomes plans for Cambridge to Oxford rapid transport links

Published: Friday, November 17, 2017

The Greater Cambridge Partnership has welcomed news of Government backing for new and rapid road and rail links between Cambridge and Oxford, announced today.

In a new report, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has urged Government to accelerate its investment in the ‘Cambridge-Milton-Keynes-Oxford arc’ - to enable the delivery of thousands of new homes and jobs and add hundreds of billions of pounds to the national economy.

The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) has been working closely with the NIC over the past 18 months to present the local vision for a future transport network that would provide for seamless journeys east to west.

A report by Steer Davies Gleave, commissioned by the NIC, praised the GCP’s current strategy to address ‘first-last mile’ journeys in the city area and its “bold” vision for future transport solutions as a means of unlocking further and wider growth.

The outcome of a feasibility study into future transport solutions, commissioned jointly by GCP and the Combined Authority, which includes looking at the potential for an underground metro system, is due to be published in early in 2018.

Elsewhere, the GCP’s on-going work to build upon existing high levels of sustainable travel in Cambridge by encouraging more people to shift to public transport, cycle or on foot, is viewed as “coherent” and in keeping with the broader east-west strategy.

Chair of the Executive Board Cllr Francis Burkitt welcomed the news: “We are delighted that our current approach has been so strongly endorsed and recognises the vision of local authorities to work together to achieve a step-change in travel for the future.

“It’s also pleasing to see that all the lobbying by the GCP, MPs and other local partners, for a possible new train station at Cambridge South and an all-movements interchange at the M11/Girton junction has been heard, and I’m optimistic the Government will listen to the NIC case for this.”

Cambridgeshire County Council’s Chair of the Economy and Environment Committee and Transport Portfolio Holder for GCP, Councillor Ian Bates, who is also Chairman of the East West Rail Consortium, added: “We absolutely support the call from the National Infrastructure Commission today. This would be a huge boost for the county linking Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford.

“Now we need to work with our local partners, together with Government, for the benefit of our county.

“We’ve chaired the East West Rail consortium to progress East West Rail as it’s a nationally important economic corridor.

“Not only have we been listened to but it’s now possible new links could be accelerated to benefit our local communities and the region beyond.”

The NIC has also recommended the appointment of a new “cycling and sustainable travel Commissioner” for each city to further develop and promote the commuter cycling network.

The Partnership is currently testing its future transport strategy – including how it will encourage a switch to public transport and active travel for the trips within the city – as part of its ‘big conversation’ campaign with feedback set to inform decisions next year.

The NIC's Partnering for Prosperity report can be viewed here: 

The GCP first last mile report can be viewed at


In March 2017 the National Infrastructure Commission invited Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford to each develop a transport strategy that delivers a vision for the future of transport across the Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Oxford corridor.

The Greater Cambridge Partnership developed a “First Last Mile” strategy for Greater Cambridge that clearly sets out how the benefits of East West Rail and the Cambridge to Oxford Expressway can be maximised.

The Greater Cambridge strategy identifies seven key corridors for future infrastructure investment to unlock new homes and connect people to high value added jobs in Greater Cambridge and the interchange with East-West Rail.

To support this, the strategy identifies a programme of investment covering up to £1billion over the 15 years from now until 2031. Some of this is allocated to programmes and projects already, other elements are in development and pending the result of technical studies or business cases that are currently underway.

The strategy was submitted to the National Infrastructure Commission in September 2017 and today the NIC has published the Strategy Assessment Report carried out by consultants Steer Davies Gleave.

What is the first-last mile strategy for Cambridge?

Greater Cambridge is growing and set to experience an increase in journey demand of up to 30% over the next 15 years.

To absorb this growth in a way that prevents further congestion, local authorities and stakeholders are working together to invest in ‘better, greener travel’ – to encourage people out of their cars and onto public transport, cycling or walking journeys.

This is particularly acute in the city where space is at a premium and daily gridlock is impacting on people, business and the environment.

Our first-last-mile strategy proposes a set of ‘carrots and sticks’ – incentives and disincentives to encourage more people to switch to public transport and active travel within Cambridge by making these journeys faster, safer, more convenient and attractive.

Within this we propose a range of options for reducing congestion at peak-times, including the potential for this to raise on-going revenue to reinvest in an ever better public transport system.

These are future proposals under development and currently being tested with the public as part of our ‘big conversation’ campaign. Feedback will help inform decisions next year.

Our first-last mile strategy report can be found at