Hugh Blaza waves farewell to the Ox-Cam Expressway – and ponders his own future transport options.

I love cars. The freedom they represent. The romance of bowling along a country road with no other vehicle in sight.

The sheer convenience of them. And yet even I am starting to understand that the world is moving on.

So the notion of concreting over miles of countryside within the Oxford – Milton Keynes – Cambridge Arc filled me with horror.

Along with very many others, I greeted with much relief the announcement from the Transport Minister that the Expressway had been cancelled.

What a pity the Government missed this opportunity to burnish its environmental credentials.

In the year it hosts the international COP climate summit in Glasgow and, confronted by the challenges of a global climate crisis, the Minister could have gained some much needed kudos by saying that the reason for cancelling the Expressway was that there were better and more sustainable ways of getting people and goods from A to B.

That’s not to say cost isn’t an issue. But no doubt the money could have been found. And it should still be found to deliver alternatives to the road as part of the ambition to ‘build back greener’. As Cllr Susan Brown, leader of Oxford City Council remarked in response to the announcement: “We must start investing in transport that provides viable door to door journeys by connecting rail, buses, cycling and walking routes. That means a strategic approach across the whole region. The Government still has a way to go to show their vision on this.”

Some of the money ‘saved’ should surely be directed at the new East-West railway line. For trains to be running on a 21st Century line powered by 20th Century diesel does not sit well with the zeitgeist, as we have pointed out.

However much I like my car, driving to Cambridge was a pain. I’m looking forward to enjoying the train journey now and seeing the train and other connections at points between. And knowing that the ambition to deliver the Arc in a sustainable way is, at least in this respect, being realised. 

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