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New Oxford-London services begin, which compete with GWML services

Chiltern Railways has launched its new Oxford-London services today (26 October) following nearly 20 months of construction.

The launch, attended by prime minister David Cameron and Sir Peter Hendy (pictured below), formally opened the new rail link as part of a £320m investment by the operator and Network Rail to create the first new link between Oxfordshire and London in over a century.

david cameron and sir peter hendy open oxford parkway to london marylebone line

It serves new stations at Oxford Parkway and Bicester Village, both of which officially opened today as part of the programme.

The Bicester Village station will create a direct 46-minute connection to the shopping destination from the capital for the first time.

The new service also offers Oxford passengers an alternative to travelling into London via Reading and the Great Western Main Line.

The operator hopes to attract an extra 250,000 return commuter journeys each year. Network Rail described this as a “rare example of new direct competition on Britain’s railways”.

And Oxford Parkway, which sits on the outskirts of Oxford, was explicitly designed to attract motorists in an effort to take cars off the road. It is immediately adjacent to the congested A34, close to the A40 and A44 trunk roads, and boasts a 1,500-space car parking onsite.

Rob Brighouse, the TOC’s managing director, said: “This is a historic day. Our significant and unique investment will be economically advantageous for the regional economy, creating competition in the rail market between Oxford and London, as well as delivering the first new service between a major British city and London for over 100 years.”

As well as increasing competition, the new service will also offer two new fast trains per hour throughout the day between Oxford Parkway and Bicester Village station to London, with journey times coming short of an hour.

Chiltern Railways and Network Rail open new rail line connecting Oxford and London - 3

The programme saw a share of £130m from Chiltern while Network Rail topped up the remaining £190m to finish off the new line and stations.

Mark Carne, Network Rail boss, said: “By working closely with Chiltern Railways on this part of our railway upgrade plan, we have been able to deliver precisely what its customers want – a much-needed new transport option for Oxford-based business and leisure travellers to London. It will also help provide the capacity needed as rail travel is forecast to double over the next two decades.”

Under the agreement, Network Rail will provide the capital for the upgrade and recover this through a facility charge over the next 30 years, payable by the existing Chiltern franchise and subsequent franchisees.

And to finish off the string of upgrades, Chiltern is also upgrading their free wi-fi to 4G, following on from its pioneering 2011 move when it first introduced free internet connection.

(Top image: Martin Frobisher, from Network Rail, and Rob Brighouse open Oxford Parkway station)


Jb   26/10/2015 at 16:03

Bravo! Some good news at last and far more welcome than HS2 notices! May we hope that one day, Thame may be put back on the railway map?

Simon   26/10/2015 at 17:43

Great News! Lets hope it gets to Cambridge soon - and gets rid of the wretched bus way too - Norwich to Oxford via Cambridge - wonderful thought!

John Oliver   26/10/2015 at 22:23

it says network rail is lprovidibg the capital but Chiltern is contributing £130m..i don 't Chiltern handing over that amount up front or just paying access charges until the end of the franchise?

Chris   27/10/2015 at 12:03

Shows what can be achieved with long franchise term. Time to end short termism and let TOCs take a long term stake in the industry so they are incentivised to invest and can reap the reward of their investment

Pedr   27/10/2015 at 13:08

Well done; how long before we have the line open to Bletchley, please? Milton Keynes is now one of the bigger towns in the area and the road to Oxford is only for the hardy traveller....

Howard   27/10/2015 at 21:23

The Waverly line and now this. Great stuff. It would be great to see Stratford upon Avon linked to the Honeybourne on the Cotswold Line

Andrew Gwilt   02/11/2015 at 00:40

The new train station is just the beginning of reopening the East-West Rail Link.

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