FAQ

29th February 2016: This page is currently being updated. Please check back for updated information again soon.

This section includes answers to questions received by members of the East West Rail Consortium.

Please email info@eastwestrail.org.uk if you cannot find the answer to your question here.

What is East West Rail?
What is the Western Section?
What is the East West Rail Consortium?
What are the timescales for delivery of the Western Section?
When will East West Rail services start operating?
What train services will run on East West Rail (Western Section)?
I live near the railway. Am I entitled to compensation?
What noise mitigation measures do you plan?
Will there be formal consultation and if so, when?
Will East West Rail be electrified and if so, when?
Will I still be able to use my railway crossing?
Who will build and own the track and infrastructure?
Why has Government supported East West Rail?
Why haven’t you committed to go all the way to Cambridge?
I would like to find out more about the plans for East West Rail – who can I speak to?

Q: What is East West Rail?

A: East West Rail is a scheme to re-establish a rail link between Cambridge and Oxford to improve rail services between East Anglia, Central and Southern England with enhanced connections to national mainline rail services.
Return to top of page

Q: What is the Western Section?

A: The ‘Western Section’ involves upgrading and re-constructing underused and disused sections of the former railway between Bedford and Oxford, Milton Keynes and Aylesbury. This is a committed scheme that is being funded by the Department for Transport and the East West Rail Consortium. It is being delivered by Network Rail within the 2014-2019 railway funding control period (Control Period 5, or CP5). Following a replanning of all railway enhancement schemes being delivered by Network Rail, completion expected in the early 2020s.
Return to top of page

Q: What is the East West Rail Consortium?

A: The East West Rail Consortium was established in 1995 and is formed of local authorities and strategic partners with the sole aim of re-introducing a rail link between East Anglia, Central and Southern England. The Consortium is led by Cambridgeshire County Council.

There is a Joint Delivery Board for the Western Section, with senior elected representatives from the eight local authorities along the route and the Department for Transport, who are co-funding the scheme; and Network Rail who are responsible for delivering the scheme.

There is also a Central Section Board which includes elected members and officers from local authorities, who are working with Network Rail to identify a preferred route and develop the case to extend East West Rail Western Section eastwards to Cambridge.
More
Return to top of page

Q: What are the timescales for delivery of the Western Section?

A: Network Rail is tasked with delivery of the scheme as proposed by the Consortium in its prospectus published in November 2011. The funding for the scheme was identified within the 2014-2019 railway funding control period 5.

Over and above the Consortium’s original proposal, the Department for Transport has requested further enhancements to the line including electrification between Oxford and Bedford. Network Rail is currently working with the DfT, Consortium and representatives of the wider rail industry to establish future needs to deliver the capability required to accommodate them.

Work on the Western Section of East West Rail is expected to be ready for train services to operate between Bedford-Oxford, Milton Keynes – Oxford, and Milton Keynes-Aylesbury train services in the early 2020s.

The line between Oxford and Bletchley is due to electrified at the same time, with electrification of the line between Bletchley and Bedford to take place at a later stage.
Return to top of page

Q: When will East West Rail (Western Section) services start operating?

A: The target dates for the introduction of passenger train services on the Western section of East West Rail are:

Oxford to Bicester (EWR Phase 1)

October 2016: Chiltern Railways started its new passenger service between Oxford Parkway and London Marylebone via Bicester Village. The upgraded line between the new Oxford Parkway station (at Water Eaton) and Bicester Village (formerly Bicester Town) station also provides the infrastructure for East West Rail services.

December 2016: Work between Oxford Parkway and Oxford city centre is due to be complete for Chiltern Railways to extend its services to and from Oxford. Services will run between Oxford city centre, Oxford Parkway, Bicester Village and London Marylebone.

Bicester to Bedford, Aylesbury to Milton Keynes (EWR Phase 2)

Early 2020s (to be confirmed): A target completion date is expected to be confirmed by early 2017. Train services are likely to start operating in the early 2020s.
Return to top of page

Q: What services will run on East West Rail (Western Section)?

A: It is likely to be used by a mixture of local and long distance passenger trains and some freight trains. The exact pattern of services has yet to be determined but the East West Rail Consortium has proposed three new passenger trains per hour in each direction, as follows:

Reading – Oxford – Milton Keynes

One train per hour (1tph) Oxford and Milton Keynes, stopping at Oxford Parkway, Bicester, Winslow and Bletchley. These services could also start from Reading or Didcot.

Journey Times:

  • Oxford to Milton Keynes 40 minutes
  • Reading to Milton Keynes 84 minutes

Reading – Oxford – Bedford

One train per hour from Reading to Oxford and Bedford, stopping at Oxford Parkway, Bicester, Winslow, Bletchley, Woburn Sands and Ridgmont. Again these services could start from Didcot.

Journey Times:

  • Oxford to Bedford 60 minutes
  • Reading to Bedford 106 minutes

Milton Keynes – Aylesbury – London Marylebone

One train per hour from Milton Keynes to London Marylebone as an extension of the existing Chiltern Railways services between Aylesbury Vale Parkway and London Marylebone with stops at Bletchley and Winslow. This service may stop at Princes Risborough and High Wycombe.

Journey Times:

  • Milton Keynes to Aylesbury 33 minutes
  • High Wycombe to Milton Keynes 63 minutes

Actual service patterns will be announced by the Department for Transport. In future, there will also be access to London Heathrow Airport via the Heathrow Western Access.

No change to the current hourly stopping service on the Marston Vale Line between Bedford and Bletchley is envisaged.

There may ultimately be a long-distance cross-country service between Southampton to Manchester via the EWR route (up to one train per hour) plus additional freight services.
Return to top of page

Q: I live near the railway. Am I entitled to compensation?

A: The current plans for the project include the upgrading of existing lines as well as re-instating a section of mothballed track. Compensation is not applicable when Network Rail or its contractors undertake duties as a statutory undertaker to develop and maintain the railway.

Railway upgrade and improvement works are essential and can sometimes be disruptive for local communities.  In such cases Network Rail will endeavour to mitigate the impact of works to minimise levels of noise, vibration, access to property or visual intrusion.  Network Rail will also work with local authorities and communities to ensure proper notification is given and that any disruption is kept to a minimum.

Some small areas of land may be required for developing and upgrading the railway line (such as land for installing new electrical sub stations or for locating the parapets of new bridges to replace level crossings).  There will also be a need to temporarily take possession of or to use land to provide contractors with access points for construction work sites.  In these circumstances, compensation will be agreed between Network Rail and the land owners in line with the current compensation rules.

For more information, please read our Information Sheet: Guidance to Compensation and Mitigation.
Return to top of page

Q: What noise mitigation measures do you plan?

A: During the course of the further development of the East West Rail project, assessment of predicted noise and vibration levels arising from both construction works and future train operations will be derived from recognised national guidance. Where noise predictions show a potential for significant impacts, mitigation measures will be established in accordance with national guidelines. Vibrations from trains are very unlikely to cause structural damage to houses and buildings near the railway. However, if necessary, we will inspect the infrastructure in the vicinity of any potential problems.
Return to top of page

Q: Will there be formal consultation and if so, when?

A: A first round of statutory consultation was held by Network Rail with stakeholders (such as Local Authorities and English Heritage) and a series of public events from September to October 2015, on preliminary proposals for the scheme.

This consultation is now closed, but you may access the information presented here.
https://consultations.networkrail.co.uk/communications/ewr-phase-2

Feedback has been reviewed and is being used to develop more detailed plans. A second round of consultation is expected to take place in autumn 2016, as part of the Transport and Works Act Order process.

Network Rail and the East West Rail Consortium welcome feedback at any time, and are in regular contact with stakeholders. To receive email updates on progress, including announcement of dates for consultation and public information events, please subscribe here.
Return to top of page

Q: Will East West Rail be electrified and if so, when?

A: The Western Section of the East West Rail line will be electrified between Bedford and Oxford.

Work to electrify the line between Bletchley to Oxford is expected to be take place at the same time as the work to reconstruct and upgrade the line between Blethcley and Bicester, for efficiency and to minimise disruption during the construction phase.

Electrification of the line between Bedford and Bletchley will follow, at a date still to be determined. This is likely to be part of the wider programme of work done that includes electrification of the Midland Main Line to Corby, Nottingham and Sheffield.
Return to top of page

Q: Will I still be able to use my railway crossing?

A: Wherever possible it is desirable to close crossings and either replace them with a diversion, a bridge or an underpass. Where it is not possible to do so (due to the existence of existing development) the operations of existing crossings will be evaluated to ensure the least possible downtime of barriers to road traffic. A crossings ‘task group’ is evaluating all crossings on the Western section of the East West Rail route to explore opportunities to make them safer. For more information, please read our Information Sheet on Information Sheet: Crossings and Rights of Way
Return to top of page

Q: Who will build and own the track and infrastructure?

A: The railway is owned by Network Rail, who are being funded to rebuild it by the Department for Transport. An alliance has been formed between Network Rail, Laing O’Rourke, Atkins and Volker Rail – East West Rail Alliance – for the detailed design and construction of East West Rail (Western Section) Phase 2. Local authorities within the East West Rail Consortium are funding a share of the delivery costs and working as a joint delivery partner to the East West Rail Alliance.
Return to top of page

Q: Why has Government supported East West Rail?

A: The railway will provide a new strategic link between the Thames Valley area, the West Coast Main Line and the Midland Main Line. It connects areas of rapid population, employment, economic and housing growth. It will provide a link between three strategic north-south routes, enabling services to avoid congested London and West Midlands areas. Train services on the new route are forecast to create more than 12,000 new jobs and generate over £100m a year for the regional economy. Part of the funding for the work will be provided by local authorities within the East West Rail Consortium.
Return to top of page

Q: Why haven’t you committed to go all the way to Cambridge?

A: Plans for the Central Section of the old Oxford – Cambridge Railway (the ‘Varsity Line) are less well developed. Part of the former railway was closed in the 1960s and in places the original track has been built over. The Government has said it will work with the East West Rail Consortium to determine if Central Section may be similarly funded in future years. This work is ongoing, and updates are posted here.
Return to top of page

Q: I would like to find out more about the plans for East West Rail – who can I speak to?

A: Members of the East West Rail Consortium and East West Rail Alliance are happy to discuss the project and keep you informed of developments. You may also subscribe for email updates on this website. We will attend local meetings and community events to keep you informed, answer questions and discuss any concerns you may have about the railway. To get in touch, please contact the Consortium’s Communications Manager, Caryl Jones by email caryl.jones@bedford.gov.uk or call 07785 927210.
Return to top of page

Page last updated 29th February 2016