The development of this section is in two phases and will introduce direct rail passenger services between Bedford and Oxford, Milton Keynes and Oxford, and Milton Keynes and London Marylebone via Aylesbury.
The rail connection between Oxford and Bicester was upgraded in the first phase, completed in December 2016.
Phase two will upgrade and rebuild sections of line that link Bedford with Bicester, and Milton Keynes with Aylesbury.
The new Central Section will improve rail transport between the Bedford area and Cambridge and provide a direct rail service between Oxford and Cambridge. While at the moment a train journey between the two cities can take two and a half to three hours, initial journey time predictions for a direct route are one to one and a half hours.
Reduced journey times and increased journey options will also provide access to wider affordable housing and a growing jobs market in Oxford, Cambridge, Bedford, Milton Keynes and Sandy.
The Eastern Section includes the services east of Cambridge through to East Anglia and the east coast ports.
A detailed study is underway to explore options, which will consider ways to enhance the rail services that run from Cambridge to Norwich and Ipswich, and will look at the possibility of building a new station south of Cambridge – at the new Addenbrooke’s campus – to help tackle congestion in Cambridge.