Work steams ahead on new Bicester rail link

Looking east where Bicester chord will join East West Rail track on right just beyond this curve.''Image by John Elvin.
Looking east where Bicester chord will join East West Rail track on right just beyond this curve.''Image by John Elvin.

Workers have been clearing embankments around Bicester in preparation for one of the country’s most important rail projects of the last 100 years.

A new section of track will link Bicester Town station with the Chiltern Main Line, allowing fast services from London Marylebone to Oxford via Bicester.

The work is part of Chiltern Railways’ Evergreen 3 project, which is the first scheme to link two major British cities in a century.

Chiltern Railways says work is now well underway on the Oxford to Marylebone line, with eight miles of preparatory vegetation clearance already complete.

Graham Cross, business development director at Chiltern Railways said: “Getting preparatory work like this complete at the right time is a significant step in the project.

“Every day we get a step closer to giving Oxford a new rail link supporting economic growth in the region and re-establishing long-lost rail links, such as between High Wycombe and Oxford.”

The Oxford to High Wycombe route was lost in 1963.

Work on Evergreen 3 had been delayed pending the 
outcome of a judicial challenge, which was dismissed in May.

Independent rail campaign group Railfuture welcomed the decision, saying the scheme will double rail capacity between Oxford and London.

Railfuture also says the new link will allow Chiltern to compete with First Great Western, meaning better fares and services on both routes.

A double route means Oxford to London services will continue to run if one line is interrupted.

The Bicester chord will pass north of Gavray Drive to connect with Bicester Town station, which is due to get a major facelift under the plans.

Chiltern Railways says the construction of the Bicester chord will take about six months.

Construction of new bridges will take between three and five months, including a new footbridge at Tubbs Lane in Bicester.

Works at stations, including fitting out, could take up to a year.

The new section of railway will start with a new junction on the Marylebone to Bicester North line, with a 40mph chord on the line towards Oxford.

Passenger services will start once the infrastructure is completed between Bicester and the proposed new station at Water Eaton Parkway in the summer of 2015.

Some disruption at Bicester’s Langford Lane crossing has been predicted during daytime construction work.

The next stage will be the extension of services to Oxford, which should be ready in the spring of 2016.