In July 2018 Network Rail 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 was welcomed by the Consortium as a key milestone in getting trains on tracks by the early 2020s.
There was a six week period lasting to September 7 when people could write to the Secretary of State giving their views on the scheme. There is now likely to be 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).
The Consortium has formally responded to the TWAO with this Letter of Support.
Questions and Answers
What is a Transport and Works Act Order and why is it needed?
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
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.