Oxford to Cambridge expressway plan scrapped over cost

A new road project connecting Oxford and Cambridge has been scrapped.
A new road project connecting Oxford and Cambridge has been scrapped. Credit: Department for Transport

A new road project connecting Oxford and Cambridge has been scrapped by the Government because it is not 'cost-effective'.

The Oxford-Cambridge expressway has been in development by Highways England since 2014 and was projected to cost £3.5 billion.

The Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today (March 18, 2021) said it would not deliver value for money for the taxpayer.

The East West Rail project between Oxford and Cambridge is unaffected.

The East West Rail project between Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge is still going ahead. Credit: ITV News Anglia

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."

East West Rail project:

  • In January the Government announced £760 million to deliver the next phase of the project.

  • It will reinstate direct rail services between Bicester and Bletchley for the first time since 1968. 

  • It will create 1,500 skilled jobs.

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.

"Work on EEH’s Oxford to Milton Keynes connectivity study begins in March 2021. 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."