New board is a step forward for rail link

east west rail map
east west rail map

A RAILWAY station for Winslow is a step closer to becoming reality, after a new board has been set up to oversee the delivery of the east-west rail project in the region.

Plans for an east-west rail route linking Reading, Oxford, Bicester, Winslow, Aylesbury, Milton Keynes and Bedford were announced at the beginning of December, subject to a satisfactory business case and a satisfactory local contribution.

David Rowlands, who is Bucks County Council’s spokesman for transportation, has been appointed to the Western Section Delivery Board along with elected members from other local authorities along the footprint of the line, including Aylesbury Vale District Council, Cherwell District Council, and councils in Oxon County, Central Beds, Bedford Borough and Milton Keynes, plus officials from Network Rail and the Department for Transport.

The joint delivery board is being set up following the annual meeting of the East West Rail Consortium at the end of January.

Its aim is to ensure elected members are represented in decision making ahead of the Secretary of State’s spending programme (2014-19) announcement in July.

The delivery board, which should be in place by mid-March, will take a supervisory role in the project.

The involvement of elected members is intended to make it easier for members of the public to have their say, in preparation for an expected consultation should the project be given the final green light in July.

Councillor Rowlands, who is a huge enthusiast for the East West Rail project, said: “This is a real step forward in the process. The crucial thing is that we’re included in the government’s investment programme to be announced in July.”

Chris Wright, secretary of the action group OBRAC (Oxon and Bucks Rail Action Committee), welcomed the news of Mr Rowlands’ involvement.

He said: “From our point of view that’s brilliant news. He’s been in this battle since day one.”