People are being encouraged to take part in a consultation on plans for the East West Rail link.
The new stretch of railway will give Winslow a brand new station and connect it with Milton Keynes, Oxford, Aylesbury and London.
East West Rail will eventually connect Oxford in the west with Cambridge in the east, a ‘corridor’ running across the south of England which experts believe could become the UK’s answer to Silicon Valley.
Planners say that it will improve rail journeys for potentially millions of passengers by opening up new routes for regional and cross-country travel and reduce the need to go into London for onward connections.
It is being supported by the East West Rail Consortium, an alliance of councils including Buckinghamshire County Council and Aylesbury Vale District Council.
Network Rail is a holding a consultation on the section between Bicester Village and Bedford, including a spur between Princes Risborough and Milton Keynes via Aylesbury (known as the Western Section Phase Two) which runs until August 11.
It includes public exhibitions in Winslow (July 12, 12-8pm, Public Hall, Elmsfields Gate), Charndon (July 20, 3-7pm, Community Centre, Steeple Claydon Road) and Newton Longville (July 17, 3-7pm, Village Hall, 2 Paradise). The consultation is also available at http://ewrconsultation.co.uk, and the consultation documents are available in the Winslow and Buckingham libraries.
This part of the scheme will use existing rail lines, some of which have become freight only or, in other areas, have been mothballed. Trains should be running by the early-2020s.
Councillor Mark Shaw, chairman of the Joint Delivery Board for the Western Section and cabinet member for transport at Buckinghamshire County Council, said: “East West Rail is a game-changer for public transport in Buckinghamshire. Winslow’s new station will sit on both the Milton Keynes – Aylesbury – Risborough - London line and also the Oxford – Bicester - Bedford line.
“However, I recognise that people who live near to the route may have questions about how East West Rail’s construction and new services could affect them. That’s why I’m encouraging as many people as possible to go along to the public exhibitions and speak directly to the engineers, planners, environmental experts and property specialists involved in the scheme. Residents can also submit their views to Network Rail’s consultation, so please, make your voice heard.”
Councillor Carole Paternoster, Aylesbury Vale District Council’s cabinet member for growth strategy, said: “The East West Rail link will bring a major boost to Aylesbury Vale, connecting our district to key centres of economic activity, generating thousands of new jobs along its route and also opening up new rail travel opportunities. It is therefore very important that Vale residents play a part in this consultation process.”
Phase One of the Western Section, a link between Oxford, Oxford Parkway and Bicester Village, was completed last year. The Central Section, between Bedford and Cambridge, is the most challenging part of the scheme as much of the old railway has been built over. A route via Sandy has been identified as the ‘preferred corridor’ for a new line and work on this continues. Work is also continuing assessing ways the existing connections between Cambridge and Norwich and Ipswich in the Eastern Section can be improved.
Following a study of the region by the National Infrastructure Commission, its deputy chair, Sir John Armitt, said, ‘the corridor connecting Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford could be Britain’s Silicon Valley – a globally recognised centre for science, technology and innovation’.