Chiltern High-Speed success is boost for East-West Rail case

published 12 September 2011

Oxfordshire County Council has congratulated Chiltern Railways and the rail industry on the completion of the most recent stage in the Evergreen project.

The western part of the proposed route

The latest investment has seen significant improvements made to the line between Bicester and Marylebone, enabling trains to travel to speeds of up to 100mph and cutting journey times substantially.

Building on this latest investment, approval for the next stage of Chiltern’s Evergreen project is anticipated early in the New Year.  This will see the introduction of a direct service from Oxford to Marylebone via Bicester, with the improvements between Oxford and Bicester in time forming part of the restored East-West rail corridor.

Support and momentum for the East-West rail project continues to build and the county council is working with the business community to ensure Government support for the project.

What is East-West Rail?

The East-West project will re-establish a strategic railway linking Reading, Oxford and Aylesbury with Milton Keynes and Bedford providing a major boost for businesses and residents alike.

In addition to supporting Oxford’s role as a major centre of economic growth, the improved connections provided by East-West rail will support economic growth in the Science Vale and Bicester areas.  And by providing an attractive alternative means of travel, the project will help manage pressure on the A34 corridor through the county.  Already recent investment in the capacity of the rail corridor through Oxfordshire is seeing more freight being moved by rail.

Oxfordshire County Council, a leading member of the East-West Rail Consortium, is working with local MPs to push for the project to be included in the Government’s 2014-19 railway investment programme.  Work on shaping this programme is now underway, leading up to the publication of the Government’s High Level Output Specification in July 2012.

Recent boosts for the East-West Rail case include:

  • An economic assessment of the project reinforcing the benefits of the project to the local economy.  This builds upon work commissioned by the East-West Rail Consortium that demonstrated an outstanding business case for the project.
  • Continued support amongst the business community via the Local Enterprise Partnerships; with Oxfordshire’s Local Enterprise Partnership emphasising the importance of the scheme as part of the wider rail network supporting economic growth.

Positive feeling

Councillor David Robertson, the Deputy Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “In all my time in local government I have never known such a positive feeling across such a huge spectrum of organisations – both geographically and in terms of both private and public sector speaking with the same voice.

“Chiltern Railways are a huge success and the investment in the line to Marylebone leading to 100mph trains shows just what is possible with imagination and good business sense.

“There is an absolutely overwhelming feeling that East-West Rail will bring enormous benefits to Oxfordshire, our neighbouring areas and further afield.  This is a scheme of national significance.  The rail industry sees its strategic significance, the business community sees it, as does the public sector, including Oxfordshire County Council.  We are now looking to Government to recognise its strategic significance and commit to working with us to deliver this valuable piece of infrastructure.

“We need and want to be a firm part of the Government’s plans for the five years following 2014/15 – but decisions on who will make it on to those plans will be taken over the course of the next 12 months, so all of us will be hammering the point home about the strength of the case for East-West Rail.


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