Frequently asked questions

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 servies 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.
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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 and is being delivered by Network Rail within the 2014-2019 railway funding control period.
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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 private sector 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 repreentatives 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.
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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 is 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 route capability required to accommodate them. Network Rail is aiming to have the line ready for trains to start operating by March 2019, for services between Bedford and Oxford, Milton Keynes and Aylesbury. The line will be electrified between Oxford and Bletchley at the same time.

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Q: When will East West Rail services start operating?

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

Autumn 2015    
Chiltern Railways London Marylebone - Oxford Parkway

Spring 2016      
Extension of Chiltern services from Oxford Parkway to Oxford

March 2019
EWR Services Oxford / Aylesbury - Bletchley - Bedford / Milton Keynes

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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 an hourly passenger train from Reading or Didcot Parkway to Bedford via Oxford and Bletchley, an hourly train from Reading or Didcot Parkway to Milton Keynes via Oxford and Bletchley and an extension of the Chiltern Railway service from London Marylebone via Aylesbury and Bletchley to Milton Keynes. Click here for further details.
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Q: When will East West Rail services start operating?

A: The aim is for the new East West Rail services to be running between Oxford and Bedford, Milton Keynes and Aylesbury by March 2019. 
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Q: What train services will run on East West Rail (Western Section)?

A: 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 for March 2019 are expected to be announced by the Department for Transport in 2016. By 2021 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.

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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.

It is likely that 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.
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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.
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Q: Will there be formal consultation and if so, when?

A: Statutory consultation by Network Rail with stakeholders (such as Local Authorities and English Heritage) is likely to take place from 2015 onwards as part of the Transport and Works Act Order process. However, the Consortium is already undertaking a series of briefings and information sessions with interested parties and key stakeholders. Network Rail are holding a series of public consultation meetings to explore solutions to the numerous crossings and rights of way along the East West Rail route. For more information and provisional dates, please refer to the latest Project Progress Update here. 

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

A: It is expected that the Western Section of the East West Rail link will include electrification of the line between Bedford and Oxford.

Bletchley to Oxford is expected to be completed first during the 2014-2019 railway funding period.

Bedford to Bletchley will follow, probably in the next railway funding period 2019-2024, as part of the wider work done to electrify the Midland Main Line to Corby, Nottingham and Sheffield.

The Office of Rail Regulation has confirmed funding in principle for the electrification.  The exact amount of funding and scope is expected to be determined by the ORR by March 2015 following detailed development between NR, DfT and the train operators.
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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 Factsheet on Crossings and Rights of Way here.
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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, working in partnership with the East West Rail Consortium, who will provide funding for a share of the costs.

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 where rapid population growth is being experienced and provides 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 up to 12,000 new jobs and generate approximately £73m 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.
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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.
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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 are happy to discuss the project and keep you informed of developments. You may 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.
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Page last updated 21st July 2014