Press release from Network Rail
The first direct rail link in more than 50 years between Oxford, Bedford, Milton Keynes and Aylesbury has been given the green light for further work.
Today (Tuesday 4 February) the Secretary of State for Transport approved Network Rail’s Transport and Works Act Order application, granting permission for work to begin on the next phase of East West Rail.
Once complete, phase 2 of East West Rail would connect communities and businesses between Oxford and Bedford, and Milton Keynes and Aylesbury, with:
- Two trains per hour each way between Oxford and Milton Keynes
- One train per hour each way between Oxford and Bedford
- One train per hour each way between Milton Keynes and Aylesbury
The new railway will also connect the Great Western main line, Chiltern main line, West Coast main line and Midland main line – providing passengers with much-improved cross-country rail links from East to West.
This would help create jobs, boost economic growth, encourage people out of their cars and onto public transport and enable sustainable housing development for generations to come.
Tim Shoveller, managing director for Network Rail’s North West & Central Region, said: “Building a new railway would transform connectivity and journey times across the heart of the country. East West Rail promises to provide a greener, low carbon transport system which will bring huge benefits to passengers and businesses – driving economic growth and creating opportunities for housing and new jobs.”
Cllr Mark Shaw, chairman of the East West Rail Consortium, an alliance of local authorities which produced the original business case for the scheme, said: “This has to go down as one of the most exciting weeks in the history of East West Rail, with approval to begin major construction of the Western section coming just days after the preferred route between Bedford and Cambridge was announced. East West Rail will transform the way people travel within and across the region, supporting communities, boosting businesses, unlocking job opportunities, and getting people out of their cars. The Consortium and the local authorities along the line will continue to work with Network Rail and its partners to ensure the western section is now delivered as quickly and smoothly as possible.”
With phase 1 between Oxford and Bicester already complete, phase 2 involves track and signalling upgrades between Bicester, Bedford, Aylesbury and Milton Keynes, including reinstating a disused section of railway between Bletchley and Claydon Junction, north of Aylesbury Vale Parkway.
The work will deliver significant improvements to local travel, with the phased introduction of new rail journeys between:
- Oxford and Milton Keynes: with trains stopping at Oxford Parkway, Bicester, Winslow and Bletchley.
- Oxford and Bedford: with trains stopping at Oxford Parkway, Bicester, Winslow, Bletchley, Woburn Sands and Ridgmont.
- Milton Keynes and Aylesbury: with trains stopping at Bletchley, Winslow and Aylesbury Vale Parkway
The East West Rail project is planned to be built progressively in phases, and once constructed would create a world-class rail link connecting Oxford, Bicester, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge.
For more information you can visit: www.networkrail.co.uk/east-west-rail/
Notes to Editors
East West Rail phase 2 is part of the wider East West Rail proposal to connect Cambridge to Oxford.
The Western Section (phase 1), which operates services between Oxford and Bicester was completed in December 2016. The Western Section (phase 2) proposes to extend services from Oxford to Bedford and Milton Keynes to Aylesbury.
The Central Section (phase 3) would see the full reconnection from Cambridge to Oxford, and the proposal is currently in development.