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Rail minister visits East West Rail project

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Rail Minister Theresa Villiers visits the site for a new direct rail link between Oxford and Bedford.

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Rail Minister Theresa Villiers visited the site for a new direct rail link between Oxford and Bedford today (6 December 2011). She met representatives from the local authorities and stakeholders, including the East West Rail consortium, to hear how they will work with Network Rail to complete a project which independent experts claim will create 12,000 new jobs and a £38 million boost to the region’s economy.

This visit to Bicester Town Station follows the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement last week when the government confirmed its commitment to support the rail link between Oxford, Bicester, Aylesbury, Milton Keynes and Bedford.

Rail Minister Theresa Villiers said:

This is an exciting new project which demonstrates the government’s commitment to stimulating economic growth across the UK.

As well as growing the regional economy by £38 million the project could create 12,000 new jobs. It will also deliver benefits to passengers through improved journey times and provide a significant addition to our country’s rail network.

In addition to helping to boost the regional economy, the new link will slash journey times between Oxford, Milton Keynes and Bedford to under one hour.

Taking the train from Oxford to Bedford currently involves travelling into central London and takes 2h30m. Travelling by rail from Oxford to Milton Keynes can also currently take up to 2 hours 30 minutes.

Network Rail will be working with local stakeholders to develop the scheme further. Subject to a satisfactory local contribution and business case, the government will announce how it will take the plans forward in the summer of 2012. Provided planning consents are granted, construction work could start in 2015 and be ready for train services during 2017.

Notes for editors

  1. The line is likely to be used by a mixture of local and long-distance passenger trains and some freight trains.
  2. The exact pattern of services has yet to be determined, but the East West rail consortium has proposed an hourly train service from Reading or Didcot to Bedford via Oxford and Bletchley. As well as an extension of the Chiltern railways service from London Marylebone via Aylesbury and Bletchley to Milton Keynes.

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Published 5 December 2011