Tag Archives: The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP

Launch Of New East West Railway Company Puts UK’s Own ‘Silicon Valley’ Rail Link On Fast Track

The East West Railway Company will make sure the railway works for the passengers and the communities it will serve

Bletchley Viaduct 1973 - not used since the early 1990s, the viaduct will be reopened. ukrailpix.co.uk

Bletchley Viaduct 1973 – not used since the early 1990s, the viaduct will be reopened. ukrailpix.co.uk

A direct rail link between the university cities of Oxford and Cambridge took a step closer today (14 December 2017), as Transport Secretary Chris Grayling officially launched the East West Railway Company.

The Transport Secretary launched the new company, which will oversee the restoration of the link between the two academic powerhouses, nearly 50 years to the day since the closure of the old Varsity Line at the historic Second World War site of Bletchley Park.

The Transport Secretary also visited nearby Bletchley Station and Bletchley Viaduct, which are being re-opened as part of the new route. Bletchley Park, so vital in the UK’s Second World War effort, was a key stop on the old Varsity Line and is at the heart of the East West Rail line as it sits halfway between Oxford and Cambridge.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said:

We are making the biggest investment in the railways since Victorian times to meet the growing demand for rail travel, while also boosting business and increasing productivity.

East West Rail is the perfect example of how we can revitalise the railways, grow the network and unlock jobs and housing growth. And Bletchley Park – the home of World War II codebreakers – is the perfect location to mark the historic occasion, because the line will be key to the development of this corridor as a world-class centre for innovation, technology and high-skilled jobs.

East West Rail will be one of the country’s most strategically important rail projects, with its direct link through the corridor dubbed the UK’s own ‘Silicon Valley’ when it is completed in the mid-2020s.

The new line will also create a direct link between East Anglia and central and southern England, delivering benefits for passengers and businesses regional and nationally by unlocking additional housing and economic growth.

Mr Grayling met with Rob Brighouse, interim chair of the East West Railway Company, regional council leaders and Milton Keynes South MP Iain Stewart for the launch.

He also met with Cyril Bleasdale who worked on the original Varsity Line construction in the 1960s and helped to build the Bletchley Viaduct.

Mr Bleasdale said:

I remember when we had our own little ceremony where I dug the first spade for it in 1962, so I’m delighted that the viaduct could be part of this historic line from east to west.

Rob Brighouse, interim chair of the company, said:

This railway has huge potential to spread prosperity all the way along the line, making life better for those who live and work here.

That’s why it’s so important to deliver it quickly and cost effectively; and that’s what the East West Railway Company has been set up to do. We are working very closely with local representatives, to make sure we build a railway that works for the passengers and the communities it will serve.

Councillor Ian Bates, on behalf of the East West Rail Consortium, said:

We welcome the formal launch of the East West Railway Company and its real emphasis on accelerating delivery of the Oxford to Cambridge link in support of economic growth. The consortium has played a pivotal role getting us to this point, and we have pledged to continue working in partnership to ensure there are trains on tracks at the earliest opportunity.

When the line opens, it will have interchange stations with 4 main railway lines radiating out of London, but it will run under or over each, minimising any risk of delay. The aim is to build a route that allows future upgrades to be incorporated with as little disruption as possible.

EU Transport Council: Agenda For 5 December 2017

Chris Grayling to attend the December 2017 EU Transport Council covering mobility, freight road tolls, safeguarding competitions plus other issues

The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP

The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP

I will attend the only formal Transport Council under the Estonian Presidency (the Presidency) taking place in Brussels on Tuesday 5 December (2017).

The first item on the agenda will be a progress report on phase one of the mobility package, focusing on proposals designed to improve the clarity and enforcement of the EU road transport market (the ‘market pillar’), and proposals on the application of social legislation in road transport (the ‘social pillar’).

Following this, the Presidency has proposed a policy debate on the ‘charging pillar’ of the package. The proposals to amend the existing directives on HGVroad tolls and user charges (‘Eurovignette’) and the interoperability of electronic road toll systems (EETS) set out rules for charging vehicles using the road (but do not mandate such charging) and promote better functioning of charging across national barriers.

Next, there will be a progress report on the proposed amendment to the regulation on safeguarding competition in air transport. The proposal aims to tackle discriminatory practices and address perceived deficiencies in the existing legislation by allowing complaints to be made to the European Commission by a wider range of interested parties who suspect, or have evidence that, one or more EU carriers are being harmed by the unfair practices of a third country.

The council will adopt conclusions on the progress on Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). The conclusions do not place any binding requirements on member states. They recognise the value that the TEN-T Policy and CEF (the associated funding programme) bring to EU transport infrastructure and look to strengthen transport investment in the next EU budgeting period. The UK can support these conclusions.

Conclusions will also be adopted on the digitalisation of transport. ‘Digital Europe ‘ has been a priority for the Estonian Presidency and the conclusions highlight the potential and challenges for the digitalisation of transport and, amongst other things, call on the commission to develop a comprehensive and multimodal digitalisation strategy for the transport sector during the first quarter of 2019. The UK can support their adoption.

Next, the council will adopt conclusions on mid-term evaluation of the Galileo, EGNOS and European GNSS Agency. We welcome these conclusions and, in particular, the need for new recommendations about the future evolution of the programme to be proportionate and costed before they are brought forward for decision.

Under any other business, the commission will first present phase 2 of the mobility package, which focuses on clean mobility and includes proposals on promotion of clean and energy-efficient vehicles, combined transport of goods, and access to the market for coach and bus services. The presidency will provide information on the state of play on the proposed rail passenger rights regulation. The delegations from Germany, the Commission, Poland, France and Finland will, respectively, provide information on automated cars, implementation of the aviation strategy, World Maritime Days, IMOgreenhouse gas emission reduction strategy, and summertime arrangements. The commission will also provide information on military mobility, and finally, the Bulgarian delegation will present the transport work programme of their forthcoming Presidency of the Council of the European Union.