Latest Rail News

22.11.18

Council voices several ‘critical’ objections to East West Rail Phase 2 plans

A county council has expressed a number of issues deemed “unacceptable” and “critical” relating to Network Rail’s application for a Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) to build East West Rail (EWR) Phase 2 – stretching from Bicester to Bedford.

In a report due to be considered by its board today, Buckinghamshire County Council listed a range of concerns that it argued must be resolved prior to TWAO approval. At the moment, pending agreement from councillors, Buckinghamshire holds two ‘holding objects’ to the scheme’s second phase.

While the local authority is supportive of the scheme “in principle” and is keen to see the project progress, it has some “significant concerns” around four areas: traffic and transport; ecology; public rights of way; and geology, soils and land contamination.

For example, Buckinghamshire is worried about the proposed construction route and HGV impacts, car parking and highways mitigation, as well as EWR’s impact on several public paths.

The council also argued that there is currently no commitment to achieving a net gain for biodiversity as “the officers would expect from a development of this scale.” Similarly, an area of land to the south west of Bletchley – designated as a local wildlife site – would be at risk from pollution and contamination arising from the works and the line’s operation.

Later, in mid-October, Buckinghamshire issued a second response regarding its position as a landowner, representing a second ‘holding objection.’ This expressly stated its intention to retain land that had been allocated for the construction of a future car park at the proposed Winslow station site, which had been included within the list of areas Network Rail wanted to acquire.

A public inquiry for this scheme is scheduled for February next year, after which the inspector will make a recommendation to the transport secretary for his consideration. The county council will have the option of presenting oral evidence during this inquiry.

When Network Rail applied for a TWAO on 27 July, the EWR Consortium of Councils – which includes Buckinghamshire County Council – issued a statement in support, calling it a “hugely significant milestone” after more than 20 years campaigning for the reopening of the Varsity Line.

Later, on 11 September, the group submitted its letter of support as part of the TWAO process for the scheme’s western section.

“East West Rail provides an attractive, viable alternative to the car through the restoration of the mothballed section of the railway, enabling fast and frequent scheduled rail services which by improving connectivity, will support the delivery of planned growth,” said the group’s chairman, Cllr Mark Shaw.

EWR’s Phase 2 forms part of the wider project designed to connected Cambridge to Oxford. The first phase, which operates services between Oxford and Bicester, was finished in December 2016, while Phase 2 extends services from Oxford to Bedford and Milton Keynes to Aylesbury. The proposal for the third and final phase, deemed the ‘central section,’ is currently in development.

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

related

Rail industry Focus

View all News

Comment

The challenge of completing Crossrail

05/07/2019The challenge of completing Crossrail

With a new plan now in place to deliver Crossrail, Hedley Ayres, National Audit Office manager, major projects and programmes, takes a look at ho... more >
Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

04/07/2019Preparing the industry to deliver trains for the future

The move to decarbonise the rail network involves shifting to cleaner modes of traction by 2050. David Clarke, technical director at the Railway ... more >

'the sleepers' blog

Network Rail’s Anna-Jane Hunter on, NPR, TRU, HS2 and supply chain opportunities

12/08/2019Network Rail’s Anna-Jane Hunter on, NPR, TRU, HS2 and supply chain opportunities

Anna- Jane Hunter, is a ‘proud northerner’ and is passionate about continuing the investment and success story of rail across the North.  She plays a key role in working with government and northern leaders to enable the network... more >
read more blog posts from 'the sleeper' >

Interviews

Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

24/06/2019Andrew Haines, CE of Network Rail, tells BBC News his organisation could issue future rail franchises

Andrew Haines, the Chief Executive of Network Rail, has told the Today programme on Radio 4's BBC’s flagship news programme that he would not rule out his organisation issuing future r... more >
Malcolm Holmes, executive director of West Midlands Rail Executive, announced as TCR Midlands speaker in Birmingham

24/06/2019Malcolm Holmes, executive director of West Midlands Rail Executive, announced as TCR Midlands speaker in Birmingham

Ahead of his appearance, Malcolm Holmes spoke with Rail Technology Magazine about what key leaders in the industry were doing to improve rail in the Midlands. He said: “It’s very... more >