Transport secretary Chris Grayling has officially launched the company that will restore the rail link between Oxford and Cambridge.
The East West Railway Company will oversee the restoration of the link between the two academic powerhouses, nearly 50 years since the closure of the old Varsity Line.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said East West Rail, which is due to be completed in the mid-2020s, will be one of the country’s most strategically important rail projects, with its direct link through the corridor dubbed the UK ‘Silicon Valley’. The cost of the Western section alone is estimated to be nearly £1bn.
Mr Grayling said: ‘East West Rail is the perfect example of how we can revitalise the railways, grow the network and unlock jobs and housing growth.’
The DfT said the new line will also create a direct link between East Anglia and central and southern England, ‘delivering benefits for passengers and businesses regional and nationally by unlocking additional housing and economic growth’.
When the line opens, it will have interchange stations with four main railway lines radiating out of London, but it will run under or over each line, to reduce the risk of delays.
The aim is to build a route that allows future upgrades to be incorporated with as little disruption as possible.
Rob Brighouse, interim chair of the company, said: ‘This railway has huge potential to spread prosperity all the way along the line, making life better for those who live and work here.
‘That’s why it’s so important to deliver it quickly and cost effectively and that’s what the East West Railway Company has been set up to do. We are working very closely with local representatives to make sure we build a railway that works for the passengers and the communities it will serve.’