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New rail link could result in the closure of several rights of way

A section of the East West Rail line

A section of the East West Rail line

The new East West Rail line being built between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes could result in the closure of several rights of way across the track.

The consortium responsible for the new £250m transport project – which will pass through a number of towns including Bicester and Winslow– is holding a number of public consultation meetings to determine which rights of way are being used the most.

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “With regard to the term ‘rights of way’ as we use it within Network Rail - it refers to footpaths, bridleways and user work crossings, which are generally crossings used by farmers.”

The transport firm said that the safety of those crossing the line was the reason behind the 29 rights of way coming under review.

The spokesman said: “We will work with the local authority, local community and the East West Rail Consortium to draw up the best possible solution for crossings in the area.

“Our main priority is the safety of people crossing the line.”

To counteract the potential closure, it is possible new ways of crossing the line safely – be it underpasses or footbridges – would be considered.

Between now and January, there are several consultation meetings which aim to draw on local knowledge at an early stage before the drawing up of more detailed plans.

Meeting locations in the Vale include Swanbourne, Winslow, Little Kimble and Quainton, and will be open to landowners, the council’s Rights of Way officers and the general public.

Work is well underway to transform the line, with the clearing of ‘mothballed’ vegetation on disused sections of the line carried out in March so as not to interfere with the birds’ nesting season.

Environmental surveys are being carried out to take into account wildlife such as bats and dormice which have made the line their home.

The line is expected to open in April 2019. For a full list of consultation dates, visit www.eastwestrail.org.uk.

 

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