Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO)

Please show your support for East West Rail!

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Network Rail has applied to the Secretary of State for Transport for a Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) which would enable it to complete East West Rail’s Western Section between Oxford and Bedford, and Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

With phase 1 between Oxford and Bicester already complete, phase 2 proposes major track and signalling upgrades between Bicester, Bedford, Aylesbury and Milton Keynes, including the reinstatement of a ‘mothballed’ section of railway between Bletchley and Claydon Junction.

The submission is welcomed by the Consortium as a key milestone in getting trains on tracks by the early 2020s.

There is a six week period lasting to September 7 when people can write to the Secretary of State giving their views on the scheme. This is likely to be followed by a public inquiry, after which an inspector will make a recommendation to the Secretary of State for his consideration. (Find out more about the TWAO process).

We are encouraging anyone with an interest in East West Rail to email the Secretary of State and tell him their views by September 7.

If you wish to support the TWAO application, you may find the Consortium’s Five things you need to know about East West Rail’ useful. It provides at-a-glance details you may wish to include in your correspondence.

The email address to write to is  (you may wish to copy in the Consortium –

The postal address is Transport and Works Act Orders Unit, Department for Transport
1/14-18, Great Minster House, 33 Horseferry Road, London SW1P 4DR.

All submission documents are available at  and paper copies can be viewed at the following locations:

  • Bicester library
  • Aylesbury Study Centre
  • Winslow library
  • Milton Keynes library
  • Bedford library

Five things you need to know about East West Rail

One: It supports new jobs and housing

By putting towns and cities within easy reach of each other, East West Rail will transform job and housing markets and attract new businesses. Indeed, it is a fundamental part of the new infrastructure for the ‘Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge growth corridor’. The National Infrastructure Commission believes that with the right investment, the region could become the UK’s answer to Silicon Valley, creating more than a million new jobs and tripling the size of its economy. Government has made realising this potential a national priority. Local plans setting out the numbers of new homes across the Western Section area have or are currently being developed by planning authorities in anticipation of East West Rail being delivered. Overall they amount to about 140,000 new homes by the mid-2030s.

Two: It transforms connectivity

East West Rail will transform connectivity across the region, which, as set out by the National Infrastructure Commission, is fundamental to the delivery of economic and housing growth. It will provide direct services to the region’s primary job and housing markets (alongside cultural, leisure and shopping destinations) and also provides connections to all major cross-country rail lines. For example, people will be able to connect at Bletchley/ Milton Keynes for services on the West Coast Mainline to the north and Scotland, or at Bedford to get to Luton Airport as well as stations to the north. North-south connectivity will also be transformed, with the potential in the future for direct services from Northampton, through Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire to the new Old Oak Common interchange for HS2, Crossrail and Heathrow services.

Three: Provides an attractive alternative to the car

East West Rail provides an attractive and viable alternative to the private car, reducing congestion on roads. This will support the delivery of growth with reduced environmental impact – or ‘net betterment’ as the National Infrastructure Commission puts it.

Four: It enjoys strong local support

The East West Rail Consortium, which is made up of elected politicians from local councils along the route, has campaigned for East West Rail since 1995. Local Enterprise Partnerships are represented on the Consortium, and the link enjoys strong support from the business community. England’s Economic Heartland – the region’s emerging Sub-national Transport Body – has also made East West Rail a strategic priority. It is worth noting that the Western Section’s first phase – between Oxford and Bicester Village, which opened in 2015 – has enjoyed significant passenger growth.  In the 18 months following its launch, three million journeys were made on the new line with over a million passengers travelling through Oxford Parkway. Bicester Village station saw two million passengers make journeys through the station. The number of overall visitors arriving by train at the shopping destination soared from 3% to more than 10%.

Five : It is vital its design is future-proofed for freight

East West Rail has the potential to provide an alternative for long-distance rail freight currently using London’s network, as it improves connectivity from some of the UK’s major ports and inland markets. The design proposed in the TWAO protects East West Rail’s ability to accommodate rail freight in the future and this is essential in supporting economic growth going forward.


There’s no doubt that travel across the region is currently hamstrung by poor road and rail journey times. Journeys often require travelling into London first. East West Rail will change all that, as the following table shows:

Journey Current time by road (approx) Current time by public transport (approx) Journey time on East West Rail
Oxford to Milton Keynes 1hr 20 mins Rail: 1hr 30mins (1 change via Coventry)

Bus: 1hr 25mins (direct)

40 mins (direct)
Oxford to Bedford 1hr 40mins Rail: 2hrs 40mins (2/3 changes via London)

Bus: 2hrs 20mins (direct)

60 mins (direct)
Milton Keynes to Aylesbury 45mins Bus: 1hr 20mins (direct) 33 mins (direct)
Oxford to Cambridge 2hrs 25mins Rail: 2hrs 50mins (2/3 changes via London)

Bus: 3hrs 40mins (direct)

1hr 15mins* (direct)

(* aspirational, dependent on central section route and service patterns)

Questions and Answers

What is a Transport and Works Act Order and why do you need it?

An application for a Transport and Works Act Order needs to be submitted to request permission to build and operate the project from the Secretary of State for Transport.

What is the process?

The TWAO process:

  • Network Rail submits TWAO and publishes and serves notices;
  • A statutory period to receive representations until 7th September 2018;
  • the Secretary of State (SoS) may then decide on one of three options (1. Hold a public inquiry, 2. Hold a hearing, 3. Exchange written representations between relevant parties)
  • These would be led by an independent inspector who will make recommendations to the SoS
  • SoS makes a decision whether he gives permission for the project to be built

How can I object/make a representation?

All objections must be made to the Department for Transport in writing by 7th Septembet 2018 to

What is being proposed?

East West Rail Western Section will re-establish a passenger and freight railway between Oxford, Bedford, Milton Keynes, and Aylesbury. Phase 2 involves improving and reconstructing underused and disused sections of the former railway and represents a significant piece of infrastructure investment.

Why do we need to build this?

This scheme will enhance the rail network, create more journey opportunities with reduced journey times and better connections to the Great Western, West Coast and Midland Main Line services, avoiding the need to travel via London. It will reconnect major centres including, Aylesbury, Milton Keynes, Bedford, Bicester, Oxford.

What are the main benefits?

The East West Rail scheme will support economic growth through residential and commercial development along the line of route, boosting business growth and attracting new business and inward investment. The upgrade of the route will provide additional network capacity to accommodate growth in freight and passenger markets by connecting the Oxford to Bedford railway with the Great Western, West Coast and Midland Main Lines.

Who pays for it?

The project is funded by the Department for Transport and by a £45m contribution from the East West Rail Consortium.

What is the new EWR Company? And what is their role in delivering the project?

The East West Railway Company has been formed by the Secretary of State for Transport to optimise the delivery of the East West Railway.  This team reviewed the East West Rail proposals and led a value engineering and programme delivery review that identified how the value and benefits from this project can be realised as quickly as is possible. The new EWR Company will run Britain’s first integrated rail operation for decades and be a separate organisation to Network Rail. The Company is looking at how the EWR route can be delivered and maintained.

How many EWR2 trains will run and to what destinations?

In addition to existing train services, there will be new services from:

Oxford and Milton Keynes; stopping at Oxford Parkway, Bicester, Winslow and Bletchley. There will be two trains each way per hour.

Oxford and Bedford; stopping at Oxford Parkway, Bicester, Winslow, Bletchley, Woburn Sands and Ridgmont. There will be one train each way per hour.

Milton Keynes and Aylesbury with stops anticipated at Bletchley, Winslow, and Aylesbury Vale Parkway. There will be one train each way per hour.

When will construction start and trains begin to run?

Depending on funding, construction of the line between Bicester and Bletchley will start at the end of 2019 with trains operating from 2023.