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Plans for second phase of Oxford-to-Cambridge rail link submitted

Words: Laura Edgar
Plans for track changes in Bicester and Beford / Shutterstock_167720543

Network Rail has submitted plans to transport secretary Chris Grayling for the construction of phase 2 of a project to build a rail line between Oxford and Cambridge.

The East West Rail project aims to create a “world-class” rail link that connects Oxford, Bicester, Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge.

Phase 1 – between Oxford and Bicester – is complete. The second phase is for works between Bicester and Beford.

Approval of phase 2 would see the reinstatement of an unused section of railway between Bletchley and Claydon Junction, as well as other track and signalling upgrades between Bicester, Bedford, Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

Plans include a phased introduction of new rail journeys between:

  • Oxford and Milton Keynes – trains would stop at Oxford Parkway, Bicester, Winslow and Bletchley;
  • Oxford and Bedford – trains would stop at Oxford Parkway, Bicester, Winslow, Bletchley, Woburn Sands and Ridgmont; and
  • Milton Keynes and Aylesbury – trains would stop at Bletchley, Winslow Aylesbury Vale Parkway.

A Transport and Works Act Order (TWAO) is required for construction to begin on phase 2. Should the transport secretary approve the phase, Network Rail said work could being in 2019.

Colin Murphy, head of consenting and environment for Network Rail, East West Rail project, said: “The submission of the TWAO is a culmination of four years of work developing the scheme and follows three positive rounds of community consultation, where we’ve continually refined our proposal based on the views of the community and planning experts. We have carried out a comprehensive programme of consultation to understand the impact of our proposals and I’d like to thank everyone who contributed. As intended, the feedback we received has informed our final proposals … Once completed, the new railway will connect communities and businesses along the route and beyond, creating new opportunities for jobs, housing and economic growth.”

Image credit | Shutterstock (top) and Network Rail (illustrative map)