Arc Universities

The Arc Universities, together with businesses ranging from AstraZeneca to KPMG and the technology and science clusters in Begbroke, Silverstone, Westcott and Colworth Park all say that East West Rail cannot come soon enough.

The region’s businesses and science and innovation parks and universities say the scheme, delivered in full to Cambridge and Aylesbury, will provide a crucial boost to the UK economy. The support of business is profiled in a new publication, ‘Building Better Connections Business Imperative for East West Rail produced by the East West Main Line Partnership, a grouping of local authorities, local enterprise partnerships and other bodies which has campaigned for East West Rail for nearly three decades.

Chair of Arc Universities Group, Professor Alistair Fitt, said:

East West Rail will further enhance our world leading research by linking clusters of innovation and fostering new partnerships between the public and private sectors. Remote working may have found a place, but it is no substitute for the physical colocation of researchers and students. So many of our great breakthroughs, including the Covid vaccines, are built on social interaction.

Cllr Steven Broadbent, Chair of the East West Main Line Partnership, said:

As a hotbed for world class science and technology innovation, our region plays a pivotal role for the UK economy. However, our existing transport system is holding us back, hitting productivity, restricting collaboration and limiting access to labour. That’s why the businesses and organisations we spoke to said that East West Rail cannot come soon enough. East West Rail will boost economic growth and innovation, connect skills and talent, and increase the UK’s global competitiveness.

“Construction work between Oxford and Milton Keynes is well underway and due to complete by 2025. With economic growth a key priority for the Prime Minister, it is crucial that the government now commits to delivering the scheme to Aylesbury, Bedford and Cambridge.”

Contributions in ‘Building Better Connections’ include:

  • Mike Archer, UK Corporate Government Affairs Director, AstraZeneca (Cambridge): “[The] UK needs critical assets like East West Rail to join up innovation hubs in the region and create a globally leading zone that can rival London for global investment. This should be an absolute top priority for government.”
  • John Ellis, Commercial Manager, ARC Aerosystems (Cranfield): “East West Rail would very much improve the region’s ability to attract inward investment, feeding innovation and the economic benefits that come with it.”
  • Andreas Hohmann, Managing Director, Total Carbide (Westcott): “East West Rail will connect the main centres in the region, and therefore provide connectivity with other businesses, creating more accessibility, stimulating growth and creating opportunity for us to capitalise on more synergies with customers and others in our ecosystem.”
  • Steve Salvin, CEO, Aiimi (Milton Keynes): “We want to grow and scale but being able to tell the story of how we sustainably acquire new talent and grow our customer base is important to investors. Better connectivity would go a long way towards helping us to deliver on our growth plans.”
  • Pim Van Baarsen, CEO, Silverstone Technology Cluster: “East West Rail would enable better connectivity, which would in turn enable businesses to attract the people, the innovation and the investment to grow and scale.”

Read the report here