Works are progressing well on the East West Rail Project which when completed will see the East West Rail Service reinstated from Oxford through to Bedford and, ultimately, on to Cambridge and East Anglia.
It will also provide a passenger and freight line between Milton Keynes and Aylesbury, for services to run from Milton Keynes to London Marylebone.
The East West Rail Project has been around for 20 years and is promoted by the East West Rail Consortium.
As part of the current phase of works, Phase One, Carillion and Buckingham Group are undertaking all of the civil works and track works as part of a joint venture agreement. Siemen’s are delivering all of the signalling solutions and so far the job is progressing well, on budget and within schedule. Phase One will deliver the rail infrastructure for Chiltern Railways new service from Oxford to London Marylebone via Bicester Town, as well as the infrastructure requirements for East West Rail services to Bedford and Milton Keynes.
The principal contractors on the first phase are working alongside Network Rail and Chiltern Railways to deliver this scheme.
We caught up with Andy Milne, Senior Programme Manager of the East West Rail Project, from Network Rail to find out more about the development. He commented:
“The project overall involves us rebuilding mothball sections of the rail infrastructure to reopen the rail link from Oxford to Bedford via Bicester and Bletchley. Additional links from Aylesbury to Bletchley and on to Milton Keynes will also be created constructing a rail equivalent of the northern half of the M25.
“We are building it in two phases, Phase One is on site at the moment and involves works from Oxford to Bicester, building a new chord at Bicester to enable trains to run north out of Oxford to Bicester and then turn south on to the Chiltern mainline. The first phase will cost £320 million and will see Islip Station rebuilt, Bicester Town Station rebuilt offering a better service to Bicester Shopping Centre, as well as opening a new station at Oxford Parkway in September next year and completing the link between the existing Oxford Station and new Oxford Parkway by spring 2016.”
Works on Phase One started on site in February 2013 and Phase Two is currently in the design and development stage. The whole scheme is set to complete by spring 2019.
Andy said that it means a lot to be a part of a large project, with national significance.
“The East West Rail project is a fantastic scheme and is one of those projects that doesn’t come along very often. The eventual aim of reinstating the route all the way to Cambridge and East Anglia will create massive opportunities for local regeneration and growth,” he said.
The scheme has major benefits across the entire East West Rail corridor, which has already experienced significant growth over the last decade. The Western Section of the scheme between Bedford and Oxford, Milton Keynes and Aylesbury opens up a number of passenger and freight opportunities by providing a strategic connection between the radial routes out of London, as well as providing flexibility in the network and alternative diversion routes. The Western Section also provides a real public transport alternative to the use of the trunk road network, as well as interconnecting three of the key growth areas in the region; Milton Keynes, Aylesbury and Bedford.
The railway will also act as a catalyst for economic growth and was originally forecast to create up to 12,000 new jobs, although more recent forecasts suggest it may be significantly more than this.
Work continues to identify a route and establish a business case to extend the Western Section of East West Rail to Cambridge, to enable services to run all the way to East Anglia.