Conservatives announce a priority review of Expressway and look to boost rail, local road and cycling schemes instead

The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, announced today (20/11/2019) that, if elected, a majority Conservative government will review as a priority the Oxford to Milton Keynes and M1 section of the proposed Oxford-Cambridge Expressway.

The Conservatives will look at alternative plans to the scheme that lacks local support. We are already driving forward East West Rail links in the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge arc and will examine ways to accelerate plans to reopen what was known as the "Varsity" railway. We will also invest in local roads, tackle congestion ‘pinch points’ and support cycling schemes. 

Mr Shapps said: "The Conservatives believe in protecting our countryside. The benefits of this project were always finely balanced against its costs, both financial and environmental. If re-elected we will review as a priority this scheme to ensure that it is still worth going ahead. We will not allow the scheme to proceed if there is not a strong case that it will boost jobs, prosperity and has local support.

“If a majority Conservative government is elected, we will develop this important strategic corridor which will be a driver of future prosperity, investing in the new East-West Rail link, local roads and new cycling schemes.”

We will examine how we can accelerate other transport schemes, including looking at plans to reopen the "Varsity Line" between Oxford, Bicester, Bletchley, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge, now known as East West Rail. 

The announcements comes after the Conservatives pledged that, if elected, they would launch a programme to reverse ‘Beeching’ cuts, initially backed by £500 million.

Conservative candidate for Buckingham, Greg Smith said: "This is great news for the Buckingham Constituency.  I have always been against the environmental damage the Expressway would bring to our area.  One of the first things I did after being selected as the Conservative candidate here was to take the case against the Expressway to Grant Shapps.  He listened and today we have this announcement that a majority Conservative government will review the scheme as a priority, understanding local opposition, and deliver East West rail and improvements to local roads instead.

"To get this road stopped and deliver the positive alternatives of rail and improvements to existing roads, we need a majority Conservative government on 12th December. Please back me locally to get this done."