Network Rail is exploring the case for creating three new east-west rail arcs across central southern England, the geography of the England’s Economic Heartland (EEH) grouping of local authorities.
The investigations are part of the ‘England’s Economic Heartland passenger rail study’ overseen by a steering group comprising representatives of the EEH, local authorities, the Government’s East West Railway Company, the Rail Delivery Group, and Network Rail.
The arcs are:
- Northern arc: linking north Oxfordshire (Banbury) with Northampton and Peterborough
- Central arc: linking Swindon and Reading through Oxford to Cambridge, Ipswich and Norwich via Milton Keynes and Bedford. The core part of this arc is the East West Rail corridor, which the Government is supporting between Oxford and Cambridge
- Southern arc: north of the M25, connecting the Chiltern lines with the West Anglia Main Line (London to Cambridge/Stansted) through Buckinghamshire and southern Hertfordshire.
In all, the first phase of the study has identified ten corridors for in-depth analysis in phase two. They are a mixture of existing rail corridors where direct services are non-existent or infrequent, and corridors where there is currently no rail infrastructure to support a journey.