‘West Anglia Task Force’ to study options for improving London-Stansted-Cambridge rail links

Stansted Airport.

Stansted Airport. - Credit: Archant

A West Anglia Task Force is to be set up to examine opportunities for improving Stansted Airport’s rail connections with Cambridge and London.

The study, part of a series of announcements made today by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Mayor of London Boris Johnson to support the capital’s economic growth, is due to report next year.

Rail infrastructure operator Network Rail is also to lead a cross-industry study to improve the rail link between London and Stansted, which is due to report his summer.

The announcement was welcomed by the London Stansted Cambridge Consortium (LSCC) which represents businesses, local authorities and consumers.

“We look forward to working closely with the Department for Transport and Network Rail on the West Anglia Task Force,” it said. “The LSCC will continue to push for early delivery of major infrastructure investment in this vital rail line.”

Kevin Bentley, deputy chairman of the LSCC and deputy leader of Essex County Council, added: “This provides an opportunity to combine faster and more frequent mainline services to Cambridge, Hertfordshire, Essex, Stansted plus a high frequency service within London, including Liverpool Street, Stratford and Tottenham.

“With the population along the corridor set to grow by 1.4million in just 20 years, a more ambitious and long-term strategic approach for infrastructure investment is now necessary in order to allow high-tech businesses to grow and new housing to be unlocked.”

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The work will support the Airports Commission’s call for an urgent review into improving access to Stansted Airport, as well as the delivering Crossrail 2 rail project. The Mayor of London has been a long term advocate of West Anglia Line improvements and recently wrote to chief executive of Network Rail calling for an urgent investment in the line.

A spokesman for Manchester Airports Group, which owns Stansted Airport, said: “We welcome today’s announcement of the establishment of a West Anglia Task Force to look at opportunities to improve connections to Stansted and Cambridge from Liverpool Street.

“Unlike other London airports, Stansted has spare runway capacity today and significant room to grow in the future. It is vital that faster rail services are delivered between London and Stansted to ensure that this potential is realised, and it is encouraging that the the Chancellor and Mayor of London recognise this.

“Working with the DfT and Network Rail, we have already identified a clear short term solution for speeding up train services to Stansted which will reduce journey times for airport passengers and commuters who use the line. It is now time to get on and deliver these improvements, as the first phase of a long-term programme of investment.”