Last year (27/11) I drew attention to the 'transport confusion' caused by the proposal to (re)build a railway between Oxford and Cambridge at the same time as proposing a road or 'expressway'. A further report from the National Infrastructure Commission has been published showing no less enthusiasm for the road. see https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-national-infrastructure-commissions-interim-report-into-the-cambridge-milton-keynes-oxford-corridor
This report does actually say that the potential conflicts and synergies need to be explored.
This report has been published at the same time as 4 Parliamentary Select Committees are considering the future of the motor car in light of the pollution (particulates, NOX, CO2 and dust from tyres, brakes and roads) being caused by motor vehicles of all kinds but with the attention being focused on diesel engines. The combination of science identifying the health risks (equivalent each year to the battle of the Somme) and the special legal duty of care to children (young lungs and brains particularly susceptible to damage) is a fantastic opportunity for Government to explain that there is no choice in reducing dependency on private cars with extraordinary public benefits for heath and well-being. How does a new road fit with this?
But the real point behind this blog is that the point about a rail link being delayed just as long as there remains the possibility of a road link was discussed with two of the most knowledgeable experts in this field. It seems that this conflict has been put very strongly to the NIC which is insistent that the expressway remains on the table. The NIC remains impervious to the fact that this will delay or derail the railway.
Those able to respond (firstname.lastname@example.org) could point out that the feeder roads are just that. Traffic would not start at either Oxford or Cambridge and the heavily congested A34, A40, A420 will become even more congested, strangling the knowledge spine running along the A34 through Oxfordshire and defeating the claimed purpose of invigorating the scientific community along the east/west 'brain belt'. Congestion is likely to increase on feeder roads at the eastern end.
But there is another point that could be made in support of the rail. The justification for HS2 that the time savings between Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham to London has been abandoned in favour of a case that the new line is needed due to capacity problems on the West Coast Main Line. Without the imperative of saving time, the possibility of a junction of east/west rail with HS2 becomes a very attractive proposition. Currently many routes necessitate a change in London (adding to congestion) and being able to change trains in the midlands (if there could be no slips) would greatly enhance the national rail network.