Network Rail and Chiltern Railways have announced they will be working closer together to progress the upgrading of the railway between Oxford and Bicester.
This includes the connection of the railway at Bicester to the Chiltern Main Line and will involve building one kilometre of new track.
Express services between Oxford and London Marylebone via Bicester are expected to start in two years time.
The upgrade of the Oxford to Bicester line not only facilitates the new Chiltern Railways service between Oxford and London, but also forms the first phase of works on the western section of the East West Rail scheme.
The long awaited return of the Oxford-Buckinghamshire link will reconnect Oxford to Milton Keynes and Bedford. Says Karl Budge, route delivery director from Network Rail, ‘The investment being made between Oxford, Bicester and Bedford will make a huge difference to local people and the local economy.
‘It makes sense to deliver what were originally separate schemes in a collaborative way. This collaboration will allow fast train services to operate between Oxford and London Marylebone and will move Network Rail closer to reinstating the railway line through to Bedford and Milton Keynes via Bletchley.’
Oxford to London Marylebone services operated by Chiltern Railways start two years from now from a new parkway station north of Oxford. Trains will also run down the new route from Oxford city centre in spring 2016 once upgrades in and around Oxford station have been completed. Journey times from the parkway station to London will be under an hour.
The Western Section of the East West Rail scheme will see the railway line reinstated between Bedford and Oxford, with spurs to Milton Keynes and Aylesbury. New train services are due to begin operations from the end of 2017.