New team signals next step in Oxford to London link

Bicester Town Station.'130912M-B253
Bicester Town Station.'130912M-B253

Network Rail and Chiltern Railways have joined forces over a major rail project which will bring new destinations and faster journeys for Bicester passengers.

The collaboration, which was announced this week, will oversee the creation of new fast services between Oxford and London Marylebone via Bicester.

Plans will see the creation of a new one-kilometre section of line in Bicester and the first services are due to start in two years’ time.

The upgrade of the Oxford to Bicester line will also help the first phase of works on the western section of the East West Rail link, which will reinstate passenger and freight services through to Milton Keynes and Bedford.

Combining the two projects will mean less disruption for rail users, says Network Rail.

Janet Blake, chairman of the East West Rail joint delivery board for the western section, said: “This is excellent news. This scheme will deliver the first section of infrastructure for East West Rail services that will run between Oxford, Milton Keynes, Aylesbury and Bedford.

“Enhanced rail services, improved connections and significantly reduced journey times compared to other means of travel will bring enormous benefits to individuals, businesses, communities and the local economy in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and beyond.”

Graham Cross, of Chiltern Railways, said: “This collaboration underpins delivery of our new train route between Oxford and London, the launch of which will support economic growth in the region and benefit thousands of commuters and businesses in Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.”

He said the Oxford to London link is the latest in a long line of Chiltern rail infrastructure upgrades, “fuelled by our understanding of rail’s potential to make a significant contribution to UK plc and prosperity”.

The project will also restore historic rail links such as the Oxford to High Wycombe route, which was lost in 1963.

The start of track clearance work on the one-kilometre section of new line, known as the Bicester chord, was reported by the Review at the beginning of August.

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 has said 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.

New stations could take up to a year to complete.