Taskforce calls for investment in West Anglia Mainline

Tens of thousands of new homes and jobs could be jeopardised unless improvements are made to rail links between London and Cambridge.

WATFYesterday (8th March 2016) a special taskforce formed to make the case for those improvements launched their prospectus, which says the opportunity to spark economic growth in the region must not be missed.

The West Anglia Taskforce is calling for investment into a package of improvements that include two new rail tracks between London and Hertfordshire. They would provide the faster, more reliable and frequent rail service that is needed for businesses to thrive, with an additional four trains per hour to some stops and significantly reduced journey times from Cambridge to London, via Stansted Airport.

The improvements to rail links would open up land for tens of thousands of new homes and jobs and take a first step towards Crossrail 2, the proposed railway linking Surrey and Hertfordshire through the south west and the north east of London. It would also improve access to more than 170 destinations worldwide at Stansted Airport.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, said: “There is simply no doubt that by making serious improvements to the rail infrastructure on this line we would near simultaneously deliver a massive economic boost to the region. With tens of thousands of new jobs and homes at stake we are doing everything possible to persuade the Government of the wisdom of investing in this project.”

The London Stansted Cambridge corridor is one of the most successful economic regions in the UK, with elite universities, one of Europe’s growing major airports, and a booming technology and bio-science industry. It also forms one arm of the “golden triangle” of London, Cambridge and Oxford which is rapidly becoming a focus for technology and bioscience-led economic growth.

However, the backbone to this corridor – the West Anglia Main Line – is currently hampered by a two-track stretch from Coppermill Junction (just south of Tottenham Hale) and Broxbourne Junction in Hertfordshire. Adding a further two tracks to this stretch of the line would enable the region to reach its potential.

Combined with a clear commitment to Crossrail 2, it would bring early delivery of around 20,000 homes and 10,000 jobs to the area, with Crossrail 2 ultimately unlocking up to 80,000 new homes and more than 45,000 new jobs along this stretch of the line.

Chair of the Taskforce, Sir Alan Haselhurst MP, said: “Substantial investment in the West Anglia Main Line would unleash enormous growth potential along this nationally significant corridor. Tens of thousands of homes and jobs will be needed in the years to come across the region but these cannot be delivered without a step change in rail connectivity. We have put up with an inferior railway for too long. We deserve better, sooner and I am determined to make it happen”.

The launch of the prospectus is a key step forward for the Taskforce as they conducted a panel discussion about the importance of the line in Westminster Hall. The Taskforce has been established as part of the Chancellor and the Mayor’s long term economic plan for London to build on a case that was presented by Transport for London (TfL) and the London Stansted Cambridge Consortium (LSCC) to Network Rail in June last year.

The Taskforce is building a robust business case for investment, analysing how much of the cost could be funded through non-central Government sources and the potential forms of Government funding. This case will be submitted to Government in the summer, with the hope of achieving four-tracking by 2024, ahead of Crossrail 2 in the early 2030s.