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New East West Rail route chair revealed along with smart ticketing plans

Transport secretary Chris Grayling has announced the chair of his proposed new East West Rail organisation, which will deliver Britain’s first new privatised line in decades, along with other measures to improve passenger experience on the railways such as smart ticketing.

In his speech to the Conservative policy think-tank Policy Exchange last night, Grayling declared that East West Rail, which is planned to eventually run between Oxford and Norwich, will be established in the New Year and chaired by Rob Brighouse, the former CEO of Chiltern Rail.

He also explained that the delivery of East West Rail will be linked with other initiatives in the Oxford-Cambridge corridor such as housing, science, technology and innovation.

“East West Rail will provide a commuter route for the crucial centres on its corridor and will provide the transport spine for additional housing and business development in a corridor which is one of the government’s priority areas for the future of our country,” Grayling said.

“I am very pleased to announce that the former chief executive of Chiltern Rail, Rob Brighouse, the man already responsible for reopening the route between London Marylebone and Oxford, has agreed to chair the new East West Rail organisation.”

East West Rail’s main task will be to secure private sector involvement in designing, building and operating the route as an integrated organisation separate to the nation’s infrastructure owner Network Rail, Grayling explained.

The new organisation will co-operate with the National Infrastructure Commission to identify how best to deliver the project, particularly giving thought to the potential benefits that the transport infrastructure will bring to the planned economic development around it. 

The £110 million funding provided by the chancellor in the Autumn Statement will allow us to do the initial work on the project, and also to carry out enabling works that will mean that it can co-exist with HS2 at the point the two routes cross in Buckinghamshire which would otherwise miss the opportunity to develop the route until HS2 was completed,” he said.

Smart Ticketing Delivery Board

Elsewhere in his speech Grayling announced his vision to introduce smart ticketing across Britain’s railway network, enabling passengers to use mobile phones, contactless cards or smart cards to buy their tickets along with more pay-as-you-go options.

This scheme was also provided for in the autumn statement with £80m pledged to support further roll-out of smart ticketing by the end of 2018. Grayling has established a special transport project team in the DfT to oversee the project and confirmed that he will chair the first Smart Ticketing Delivery Board to drive forward progress.

“I have mandated my department and the industry to make rapid progress introducing smart ticketing across the network. The ingredients are there to deliver something much better – and we want to see these key reforms happen quickly,” he said.

Southern is expected to become the first regional operator to properly introduce top-up systems to their services by introducing KeyGo to their smartcard. Grayling hopes that other TOCs will begin to offer similar choice to their passengers as the required infrastructure reaches other major UK cities.

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Banbury Horse   08/12/2016 at 17:49

“I am very pleased to announce ... reopening the route between London Marylebone and Oxford...” This shows what a depth of railway knowledge this latest Transport Secretary has. There was never a "route" or service between Marylebone and Oxford to "re-open" unless you class changing from the Great Central to the Great Western at Princes Risborough a "route". This is a new service never before offered.

Jerry Alderson   09/12/2016 at 15:24

Better wording: "the man already responsible for creating the high-quality route between London Marylebone and Oxford, which will fully open on 11 December 2016."

Rail Realist   10/12/2016 at 17:10

Those of us with a long memory will recall the Oxford Cambridge line was never listed for closure under the Beeching report. Only later 'enlightened' railway managers chose to close it no doubt to make a name for themselves Congratulations to Chilterns for the Bicester Oxford initiative and lets hope that the Bicester and Aylesbury to Bletchley proposals can make similar progress. It was not that long ago that Chilterns DMUs ran to Bletchley for maintenance so the route is still intact. Surely a simple solution of low cost modular signalling, steel sleeper track can get this re-instated far quicker than being envisaged. Forget all the consultant's reports, business cases and fancy technology, just get on and do it. Admittedly, Bedford Cambridge is a much bigger challenge

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