All aboard for the rail revolution

The old station at Swanbourne
The old station at Swanbourne

The East West Rail scheme is a major project to promote economic growth by establishing a strategic railway that will ultimately connect East Anglia with Central, Southern and Western England.

The site of the new Winslow station

The site of the new Winslow station

The Western Section of East West Rail which got the final go-ahead from central government in July 2012, includes plans for a new station at Winslow.

The line will link Reading to Bedford, via Oxford, Bicester Town, Winslow and Bletchley.

It will also link up with a new service from Bicester Town to London Marylebone.

The Oxford to Bedford section of the line is to be electrified – giving Winslow residents the choice of taking an electric service to Bedford or a diesel service to Milton Keynes.

The compound at Verney Junction

The compound at Verney Junction

The East West Rail project has been promoted by the East West Rail Consortium and subsequently adopted by the Department for Transport for delivery by March 2019 by Network Rail.

Much of the route already exists. East West Rail will reopen 10 miles of closed railway and upgrade almost nine miles of railway to link in with the diesel lines from Aylesbury.

A temporary site compound has already been established in a farmer’s field at Verney Junction, and two further compounds are now in the process of being set up in Steeple Claydon and Swanbourne.

The Verney Junction compound includes offices and will serve as a storage site for large machinery and a vehicle parking site while work is being carried out on the mothballed section of railway track.

The compounds will be operational for about 40 weeks.

Ground investigation surveys are taking place along the disused line between Bletchley and Steeple Claydon.

This involves some vegetation clearance, installing temporary drainage at locations prone to flooding and drilling boreholes for geotechnical surveys and water table investigations.

The preliminary work on the mothballed section is due to be complete by April, and will then extend to the operational railway from Claydon to Aylesbury and Princes Risborough.

Residents affected by the work are being informed by letter as work takes place in their area and people are requested to use only authorised railway crossings now that work is in progress.

The Oxford to Bletchley section of East West Rail is scheduled for completion by March 2019, and the Bletchley to Bedford section a year or two later.

The site for the new Winslow Station has been identified, off the A413 to the north of the town but a spokesman for the East West Rail Consortium said work is not expected to commence on the station until 2018.

No station is planned at Steeple Claydon under the East West Rail scheme.

However, there will be ‘passive provision’ for a station if one is required in the future, after the Bucks County Council HS2 mitigation tram requested a station at Steeple Claydon as a mitigation measure for HS2.

A new line which will link Bicester to London Marylebone is planned to launch in September this year.

The new line will run between Oxford Parkway and London Marylebone, via Bicester.

The upgrade of the Oxford to Bicester line also facilitates the first phase of works on the western section of East West Rail.

The building structure of the new Oxford Parkway station, adjacent to the existing Water Eaton park and ride, is now complete after construction began in October.

The station will also serve East West Rail services between Oxford, Bedford and Milton Keynes from March 2019.

Work on this project is taking place through a partnership between Network Rail and Chiltern Railways who are managing its delivery through the Bicester to Oxford Collaboration.

The East West Rail scheme featured in last week’s episode of Great British Railway Journeys, with Michael Portillo, on BBC 2, which featured the 
construction work at Bicester Town. .