The East West Rail Project has been declared a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP), meaning that once comprehensive public consultations into the project are complete, the Secretary of State for Transport can authorise the project.
The East West Rail Company (EWR Co) says the new line is expected to be built by the mid-2020s and will complete the link between Oxford and Cambridge, passing through Bedford.
While the section between Oxford and Bedford can use older, currently disused, rail lines, the route from Bedford and Cambridge will need an entirely new rail line.
Earlier this year, EWR Co consulted on five possible route options for the line between Bedford and Cambridge.
A full report of the consultation is expected to be published later this year, alongside the preferred route.
The CBI has also weighed in on the project, with Richard Tunnicliffe, East of England Regional Director, CBI saying: “Local business wants to see greater connectivity across the region.”
EWR Co say the new connections will create opportunities for employment and business growth across the region and also provide transport for much needed new developments.
“I fully appreciate the importance of good connectivity to support local communities,” said Rob Brighouse, Chairman at EWR Co.
“So, achieving this status as an NSIP is important because it unlocks the ability for us to secure a Development Consent Order to authorise the project.
“It’s brilliant to get two affirmations for the project in one week with our mention in the Government Spending Review also warmly welcomed.”