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Update May 2016
Consultation on East West Rail Phase 2 was carried out in September and October 2015 on original plans which involved substantial work to allow an increased line speed of 80 mph along the Princes Risborough – Aylesbury line.
Likely Scope of Work for East West Rail
However, further development of timetable modelling has concluded that the line speed improvements are not now required to achieve the planned service pattern of one hourly passenger train (in each direction) and capacity for freight trains. As a result of this it is no longer proposed to increase the line speed along the route and therefore the associated construction work is no longer required.
East West Rail’s likely scope of work involves extending the platforms at Little Kimble, Monks Risborough and Princes Risborough to allow longer four-car trains to operate and the East West Rail project team will continue to develop options for the closure of Marsh Lane level crossing. We are also working closely with HS2 to, as best practicable, integrate the projects where they overlap.
Longer Term Plan
Network Rail’s Long Term Planning would be to deliver further capacity improvements along the line, which could require full double tracking. The line could also be a candidate for electrification. These plans will be included in Network Rail’s Route Study document to be published May 2016 and will be subject to Government and industry consultation. Planning for this would not be envisaged before the mid 2020’s.
Aylesbury to Princes Risborough Line, Buckinghamshire
Published June 2014
Download this information sheet in pdf format here
This information sheet sets out the proposed enhancements to services between Aylesbury and Princes Risborough; the potential implications for enhancements to the railway and the steps to be taken over the next 12 to 18 months.
It also explains the interface between Aylesbury to Princes Risborough line and HS2 and Network Rail’s intended approach to construction of East West Rail in light of these.
The East West Rail project involves the reconstruction and upgrading of the currently disused or underused railway line between Bedford and Oxford, Milton Keynes and Aylesbury in order to introduce passenger and freight train services between Bedford and Oxford, Milton Keynes and Aylesbury and beyond.
The scheme has been promoted by the East West Rail Consortium which developed a proposal and business case for the reconstruction of the line in order to introduce three semi-fast hourly passenger services between Bedford and Oxford, Milton Keynes and Oxford, and Milton Keynes and Aylesbury. The Consortium’s plan proposed that the line could have capacity for cross-country passenger train service and freight trains.
It was also envisaged that the one passenger train service per hour between Milton Keynes and Aylesbury would continue south of Aylesbury to London (Marylebone) via High Wycombe using the existing rail track. A preliminary assessment of the capacity of the existing single line was undertaken as an additional study within the GRIP 4 study by Atkins in March 2011. Although it was concluded that introducing a Milton Keynes – Aylesbury – London Marylebone service would require additional capacity through the provision of a passing loop(s), the report further concluded that because of the changes in timetabling that would occur between the time this report was published and the likely date of a new service being introduced, further detailed evaluation of the route capacity would be required to make a final determination on the possible enhancements to the line.
The ‘core’ East West Rail scheme proposed by the Consortium was given the go-ahead as a committed scheme that is being funded by the Department for Transport and the Consortium’s local authorities. Network Rail is working to deliver this scheme within its current five-year spending period ending March 2019.
In addition to the ‘core’ scheme proposed by the East West Rail Consortium, further substantial enhancements have been proposed by the Department for Transport to increase capacity and reliability of services, making the line fit for purpose for at least the next 25 years taking into consideration anticipated future demand. These potential ‘incremental’ requirements of the line are currently being reviewed by Network Rail and may result in further additional work being required on the line between Aylesbury and Princes Risborough.
Reconstruction of the East West Rail line must also take into consideration the proposed alignment of HS2 near Little Kimble (and between Aylesbury and Claydon Junction).
Proposed train services – Milton Keynes to London via Aylesbury and Princes Risborough
The ‘core’ East West Rail scheme includes an hourly passenger service between Milton Keynes and Aylesbury (each direction) that would continue to London Marylebone. This is an addition to the existing Princes Risborough to Aylesbury passenger and freight services.
The ‘incremental’ scheme includes capacity for two passengers train per hour.
|Core Scheme||Incremental Scheme|
|Princes Risborough to Milton Keynes passenger service||1 train per hour (each direction)Calling: Aylesbury, Aylesbury Vale Parkway, Winslow and Bletchley.Train to start at London Marylebone.Calling pattern London – Princes Risborough not specified.||2 trains per hour (each direction)Calling: Aylesbury, Aylesbury Vale Parkway, Winslow and Bletchley.Train to start at London Marylebone.Calling pattern London – Princes Risborough not specified.|
|Princes Risborough – Claydon Junction freight||1 train per hour, Class 4 or 6, primarily for Claydon / Calvert waste traffic.Extension east or west of Claydon Junction catered for by utilising Oxford – Milton Keynes / Bedford paths.||1 train per hour, Class 4 or 6, primarily for Claydon / Calvert waste traffic.Extension east or west of Claydon Junction catered for by utilising Oxford – Milton Keynes / Bedford paths.|
Potential Track Enhancements
To extend the hourly Milton Keynes service to London Marylebone requires one passenger plus one freight path per hour in each direction to be reliably accommodated between Aylesbury and Princes Risborough. Although such capacity theoretically exists today, in practice the junction layouts at Princes Risborough and Aylesbury, as well as the single linebetween those two points, result in constraints that mean that there is likely to be a high degree of operational risk if all four paths were to be used every hour, which could negatively impact on the reliability of the timetable.
In addition, the DfT, supported by the Industry Plan Group, has also requested that the feasibility of a second Milton Keynes – Marylebone passenger path per hour, in addition to the basic service, be examined as part of the ‘incremental’ output specification for the project. This would certainly require some upgrading of the route to provide the means to pass trains travelling in opposite directions, as well as remodelling of the junctions at Princes Risborough and Aylesbury, but no investigation as to the extent of any works has yet been carried out.
Network Rail will undertake the following work over the next 12 to 18 months, to identify any enhancements to the railway infrastructure required to accommodate both the ‘core’ and ‘incremental’ requirements of the line between Aylesbury and Princes Risborough.
1. Undertake modelling to establish whether the existing infrastructure can reliably accommodate the regular hourly services proposed under the basic service specification.
2. If not, determine what infrastructure enhancement would be required to provide the required additional capacity.
3. Provided a case can be made for the enhanced service specification (i.e. the second hourly passenger path), determine what additional infrastructure enhancements over and above (b) would be required to accommodate these services.
4. The options could, therefore, range from “no change”, to installation of a passing loop (or loops) at some point along the line, to more extensive double tracking. The need for remodelling one or both of the main line junctions, as well as resignalling, station reconstruction and abolition or upgrading of level crossings, would also be examined.
5. Assess the relative costs and benefits of each option in order to make a decision on a final scope of works, before initiating the relevant processes for obtaining any legal powers required.
Given that the preliminary analysis of the Princes Risborough and Aylesbury line was undertaken in March 2011 and that much more detailed evaluation of the route capacity is now required, it will be some time before any definitive conclusions about the extent of works required can be made. As a result, we do not yet have any information regarding how any works required would be implemented, including the need for any closures.
Additional investigative work will also need to be undertaken between Aylesbury and Claydon to assess the effect of the proposed additional passenger path.
How will the proposed route for HS2 affect the Aylesbury to Princes Risborough section of East West Rail?
The proposed alignment of HS2 has implications for the redevelopment of between Aylesbury and Princes Risborough.
We have as yet little or no hard information on the intersection of HS2 and the Aylesbury to Princes Risborough line south of Aylesbury. The extent of works required will depend not only on the proposed HS2 alignment but also on whether any enhancements will be required to accommodate the additional Marylebone services as described above.
We will update this Information Sheet as further information becomes available.
Page reviewed February 2015
Updated May 2016