The East-West Rail project has been criticised for costing the taxpayer a huge amount while making huge profits for house builders.

East West Rail (EWR) wants its new line to connect the cities of Oxford and Cambridge via Bicester, Milton Keynes and Bedford.

Estimates suggest the project would cost £6-7 billion and campaigners believe councils across the route will come under significant pressure to build more housing as a consequence. 

Conservative MP for North East Bedfordshire Richard Fuller criticised the Government over the new railway line as he claimed it will cost taxpayers “an enormous amount” while landowners and developers make “shedloads of money”.

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Transport minister Huw Merriman defended the project, saying: “I believe east-to-west rail is critical in delivering a workforce to Cambridge to allow Cambridge to then compete with the likes of Boston, and those cities in south-east Asia, so that those pioneers actually have a workforce and that we can keep Cambridge, and indeed Oxford, motoring on that basis.”

Oxford Mail: London Road crossing in 2017

It came during clashes between Labour and the Government in the House of Commons yesterday over rail policy.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has said works would be sped up to allow services from Oxford to Bedford to run by 2030.

But the new railway line has prompted fears of a housing sprawl in Oxfordshire.

The Stop the Arc Group believes the project could result in thousands of new homes being built.

They single out the developers’ reference to an “ambition for a million homes”.

At a parliamentary transport committee meeting back in March the plans were compared by a parliamentary official to the “failed” HS2 project over "very poor communication with communities".

A National Audit Office (NAO) report states issues had been raised “several times” about “a need to improve communications” regarding the progress of the plans.

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In Oxfordshire EWR has been criticised for delaying plans for the future of the London Road crossing in Bicester.

Paul Troop, group secretary of the Bicester Bike Users’ Group (BBUG), told the Oxford Mail: “EWR's shortcomings with consultation are epitomised by what's happening in Bicester.

“The railway runs right through the middle of town and will effectively cut the north off from the south."

Options put forward by EWR for maintaining connectivity for cyclists and pedestrians in the town included an accessible overbridge, either at or near the current London Road crossing, or an underpass near the crossing.