HS2

27.07.18

East West Rail scheme progresses further with final stage two proposals

Network Rail has submitted its final proposals for the continuation of the East West Rail scheme, which could connect major southern cities including Oxford and Cambridge.

In an announcement today, the government-backed rail network is planning to revive a mothballed section of railway between Bletchley and Claydon Junction, with plans for major track and signalling upgrades in an effort to connect communities and businesses in the area.

The plans, as part of the East West Rail project which will connect Oxford, Bicester, Milton Keynes, Bedford, and Cambridge, has already completed work on connecting Oxford to Bicester Village.

Work could begin as early as next year if Network Rail plans submitted to Chris Grayling to construct phase two of the project between Bicester and Bedford are approved. Phase one between Oxford and Bicester has already been completed.

Phase two proposes major track and signalling upgrades between Bicester, Bedford, Aylesbury and Milton Keynes, as well as the revival of the railway between Bletchley and Claydon Junction.

The proposed works will see improvements to local travel, with phased introduction of new rail journeys between Oxford and Milton Keynes, Oxford and Bedford, and Milton Keynes and Aylesbury.

Construction of phase two is subject to permission through a Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO), which, if granted by government, could allow major works to begin as soon as 2019.

Head of consenting and environment for Network Rail’s East West Rail project, Colin Murphy, said the TWAO is a culmination of four years of work developing the scheme, following three positive rounds of community consultation.

He added: “As intended, the feedback we received has informed our final proposals which we are submitting today. Once completed, the new railway will connect communities and businesses along the route and beyond, creating new opportunities for jobs, housing and economic growth.”

Rob Brighouse, chairman at East West Railway Company said: “As a dedicated delivery body, East West Railway Company’s role is to streamline decision making and ensure the project is delivered quickly and cost-effectively.

“Today’s announcement by Network Rail is very welcome and shows our shared commitment to move all elements of the project from planning to delivery as quickly as possible.”

Chairman of the East West Rail Consortium Cllr Mark Shaw said East West Rail will drastically reduce journey times within the region, bringing key economic and cultural centres within easy reach of each other.

“After more than 20 years of campaigning, the submission of the TWAO is a hugely significant milestone, marking the final stage in acquiring permission to reopen the rail lines between Oxford and Bedford, and Aylesbury and Milton Keynes,” he added.

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Image credit: Network Rail

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