Shapps cancels Oxford to Cambridge expressway

18/03/2021
Dominic Browne

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced the cancellation of the Oxford-Cambridge (Ox-Cam) expressway after Department for Transport (DfT) analysis suggested it was not cost-effective.

Highways England had been developing potential options for a road link between Oxford and Milton Keynes but DfT officials said that following work with local partners, 'recent analysis shows that the benefits the road would deliver are outweighed by the costs associated with the project'.

The scheme has been 'speculatively' valued at £3.5bn, with former chancellor Philip Hammond providing £27m in development funding for the project in 2016.

A study published the same year found on the basis of initial assessment work that the benefits of all three shceme options ‘are promising enough to take them forward to the next stage of assessment’.

However, transport officials will now instead investigate 'the need for more targeted road interventions in the area, working closely with Highways England and England’s Economic Heartland (EEH) as the sub-national transport body, to develop a study on proposals.

Behind the scenes, Highways understands that elements within EEH have always been ambivalent about the value of the road scheme and were never keen to fully support it.

The news comes after, the Government announced a £760m funding commitment to deliver the next phase of East West Rail, which will reinstate direct rail services between Bicester and Bletchley for the first time since 1968.

Mr Shapps said: 'The Oxford-Cambridge Arc is home to cutting-edge research, globally renowned science and technology clusters and some of the most productive places in the country – we want to make sure it has transport fit for such an important region.

'Our analysis shows the expressway cannot deliver such 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 (COVID-19).

'We will continue to work on more targeted, localised road improvements to boost transport in the region, alongside the transformational East West Rail, in which we have invested £760 million to deliver the next phase.'

Mayor Dave Hodgson, chair of England’s Economic Heartland (EEH) Strategic Transport Forum, said: 'This is a welcome announcement that provides clarity to those planning for the region’s future between Oxford and Milton Keynes.

'As our Transport Strategy sets out, delivery of strategic schemes, including East West Rail and mass transit systems, such as those being developed in Cambridgeshire and Milton Keynes, alongside harnessing smart technologies and targeted investment in the road network, are all essential if we are to ensure economic growth while achieving net-zero emissions.'

EEH will start work on its Oxford to Milton Keynes connectivity study this month, he said.

'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.'

In February, the Government launched the process for developing a long-term Oxford-Cambridge Arc spatial framework, including transport policy, for local and national planning, and to inform investment decisions.

Latest Issue

latest magazine issue

INSIDE:

  • COP26: The sector reacts
  • Road pricing: Putting the theory into practice
View the latest issue


Highways jobs

Highways Projects Manager

Up to £38,326.08 p.a.
We are looking for an experienced, skilled and competent Highways Projects Manager to help deliver a wide range of... Broxbourne, Hertfordshire
Recruiter: Broxbourne Borough Council

Assistant Director of Environment and Regulatory Services

circa £84,000
As Assistant Director of Environment and Regulatory Services, you will be responsible for core ‘front-line’ place-based services, including... Bolton, Greater Manchester
Recruiter: Bolton Metropolitan Borough Council

Heads of Service

£57,636 - £58,509 pa
It’s an exciting time to join us here in West Lancs as we are looking for 3 inspirational leaders who have the energy and drive to... Lancashire
Recruiter: West Lancashire Borough Council

Senior Engineer- Highways

£23,080- £30,451
Our Highways Service is growing to reflect the increase in investment. Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Environmental Data Officer

£26,592
In this role you will collect, maintain and manage high quality energy and environmental data, and providing... Camden, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Camden London Borough Council

Senior Engineer - Highways Asset Maintenance

£39,854 to £43,741 (Pay Award Pending)
There’s never been a more exciting time to join Doncaster Council. Doncaster, South Yorkshire
Recruiter: Doncaster Council

Director of Environmental & Community Services

Up to £90,096 per annum
We seek an energetic and committed Director who has the right motivations and values; someone who is... Long Eaton, Nottingham
Recruiter: Erewash Borough Council

Transport Infrastructure Commissioning Officer

£30,451 to £34,728 per annum
We have a great opportunity in Somerset to join our Highways and Transport Service. Taunton, Somerset
Recruiter: Somerset County Council

Team Manager Band 3 – Environment Strategy & Change

£46,845 - £48,849 per annum
This is the perfect time to join St Helens and become part of our exhilarating journey and help build our legacy for the future. St Helens, Merseyside
Recruiter: St. Helens Metropolitan Borough Council

Noise and Nuisance Officer

£32,301 - £35,949 per annum
To be successful in the Noise and Nuisance Team you will need a genuine commitment to... Kensington and Chelsea, London (Greater)
Recruiter: The Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea Council

Team Manager Band 3 - Fleet, Depot & Security

£46,845 - £48,849 per annum
This is the perfect time to join St Helens and become part of our exhilarating journey and help build our legacy for the future. St Helens, Merseyside
Recruiter: St. Helens Metropolitan Borough Council

Minibus Driver

Hourly rate
North Yorkshire County Council
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Minibus Driver

Hourly rate
North Yorkshire County Council
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Minibus Driver

Hourly rate
North Yorkshire County Council
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Minibus Driver

Hourly rate
North Yorkshire County Council
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Minibus Driver

Hourly rate
North Yorkshire County Council
Recruiter: North Yorkshire County Council

Asset Manager

£42,821 - £46,845 per annum
The Highway Asset Manager is responsible for the strategic management of all the council’s highway assets... Blackburn, Lancashire
Recruiter: Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council

Digital Evidence Officer

£25.137 - £26.520
The Digital Evidence (CCTV) Team are responsible for improving community safety outcomes throughout the Royal Borough of Greenwich by... Greenwich, London (Greater)
Recruiter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Guaranteed Relief Cleaners North and South Kirklees Area

£9.25 per hour
Some of the key features and benefits of being part of the Kirklees Cleaning Service include... Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Group Engineer - Safety Design

£40,876 - £45,859
We are looking for an experienced engineer to join our Highways Safety Design team. Kirklees, West Yorkshire
Recruiter: Kirklees Metropolitan Council

Highways Presents

 

Highways on Fridays

Register now!

Latest Video