New Oxford-London line is ‘vital’ – McLoughlin
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin has described the Evergreen3 rail route, which will provide a new link between Oxford and London, as “vital”.
His comment came after visiting thesite of the planned Oxford Parkway station yesterday, before moving on to the construction site where work is already underway to build a short length of new track in Bicester, which will allow trains from Oxford to link to the Chiltern Main Line and travel to London.
McLoughlin said: “The rail route between Oxford and London Marylebone will be the first new link between a major British city and the capital for more than a century.”
Journey times will be under an hour, offering Oxford passengers an alternative to the current fast services into Paddington on the crowded Great Western Main Line via Reading.
McLoughlinsaid: “It is part of the wider East West Rail line scheme, which is set to reinstate the railway between Oxford, Bletchley, Milton Keynes and Bedford, improving connections and services for passengers and freight.”
Chiltern Railways, the franchise owner of the Evergreen project, says that once it is completed it will also improve services between Bicester and Oxford, and re-establish a direct rail link between Oxford and High Wycombe.
Services are expected to start from Oxford Parkway in summer 2015 and from Oxford city centre in spring 2016.
Last year Graham Cross, director of Chiltern Railways, stated that towns and villages to the north of Oxford will gain “from improved rail access and a new parkway station for the region”.
“In addition, the fast growing town of Bicester will enjoy an additional link to the capital adjacent to Bicester Village Shopping Centre. The project will also see the re-establishment of long lost rail links, such as between High Wycombe and Oxford,” he said.
The next stage of the East West Rail scheme, which will reinstate the disused railway between Bicester and Bletchley, is due to be completed by the end of 2017. Electrification of the whole route between Oxford and Bedford is expected to be completed in 2019.
However, this week, northern MPs condemned the decision made by Porterbrook last month to transfer nine Class 170s from TransPennine to Chiltern Railways, to be used for the new Oxford-London services.
Angela Smith, MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge, said the “north would suffer” once again, because of a series of “terrible decisions made by the Department forTransport”.
(Image copyright: DfT)
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