Securing a truly exceptional economic contribution

Published: 17 Nov 2017

By: James Palmer


Senate House Cambridge

I welcome the National Infrastructure Commission’s report. East-West Rail and the Cambridge-Oxford expressway can transform the economic potential of the Cambridge-Oxford corridor bringing forward one million new homes by 2050. As the report makes clear, the amount the corridor generates for the national economy could increase from £90 billion per year to £250 billion. This is truly exceptional.

Locally, by East-West Rail joining up with the proposed Cambridge South station will ensure that the biomedical campus, home to Astra Zeneca and others will be properly connected to the national rail network and the new corridor.

The Cambridge-Oxford expressway will mean concrete benefits for Cambridgeshire residents who have to rely upon the heavily congested A428.

Ultimately, in time I believe that proposals could go even further to incorporate Suffolk and particular Felixstowe, one of the country’s most important ports.

The life science sector is one of the key strands to the Government’s emerging industrial strategy and the recommendations contained within the report will enable us to complete the missing transport link between Cambridge and Oxford that will enable the golden triangle (London, Cambridge, Oxford) of life science centres to be world leading.

Though slashing journey times between Cambridge and Oxford is not the primary reason for East-West rail and the Cambridge-Oxford expressway, clearly the benefits associated with reduce journey times are not to be underestimated. It’s of significant importance that our two great university cities are properly connected. Moving to a post X5 bus world where the world’s leading academics and scientists can move freely between Cambridge and Oxford needs to be seen as a real plus.

Central to my vision for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is creating new transport corridors to bring forward housing growth. This report does this on a quite monumental scale and in a way which will ensure that East-West rail can play a significant role in tackling the housing crisis that effects younger generations over the next couple of decades. Out of all the benefits associated with the recommendations contained within this report, surely this is the one to be welcomed the most.

We all recognise the need to provide more housing on a large scale, however finding ways to ensure that the transport infrastructure is in place to support the new homes is vital. This report contains recommendations that I am hopeful will enable us to achieve this.

East-West rail and the Cambridge-Oxford expressway are bold and visionary concepts, backed fully by the Government, that could play a key role in tackling the housing crisis here in Cambridgeshire. The Greater Cambridge economy over the next decade is predicted to create approximately 44,000 new jobs, its only through the Government and local leaders working together collaboratively and in a creative way that we could put in place the housing and transport infrastructure to support this growth. This report supports this.

James Palmer is Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough

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