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How the East West Rail project will make travel across Britain easier

The East West Rail scheme will re-establish a rail link between Cambridge and Oxford to improve connections between East Anglia and central, southern and western England.

Scheme map of the rail link between Cambridge and Oxford
Scheme map of the rail link between Cambridge and Oxford

Services will be introduced in three “Connection Stages”

  • Connection Stage One: Services will run from Oxford to Bletchley/Milton Keynes
  • Connection Stage Two: Building on the work completed in Connection Stage One, services will extend from Oxford to Bedford
  • Connection Stage three: This stage completes the full East West Rail connection, and will see services run from Oxford to Cambridge via Bedford and Bletchley.

By delivering the project in this way, we can create real benefits: 

  • Minimise disruption for local communities – we are looking to find the best way to reduce the length and severity of disruption for local communities
  • Deliver the best value for taxpayers – by properly integrating the whole railway all the way from planning to operations we will find efficiencies and cost saving for the taxpayer
  • Increase reliability of our services – the project is about more than just laying down steel and concrete: we’re thinking about how timetables and connections with other parts of the rail network will impact your journeys, so we can be confident of delivering reliable services from day one.

Connection Stage one

Development of this section – in two phases – will introduce direct rail passenger services between Oxford and Bletchley/Milton Keynes.

Phase 1

This phase completed in December 2016 and upgraded the rail connection between Oxford and Bicester. The first new section of railway, connecting Oxford Parkway and Bicester, opened in October 2015, with the section linking Oxford and Oxford Parkway completing in December 2016.

The project is part of the Chiltern Railways scheme to provide more choice for passengers wanting to travel from Oxford to London by introducing a new service between Oxford and London Marylebone.

More information on Chiltern Services between Oxford and London can be found on the Chiltern Railways website.

Noise and vibration reports for phase 1

Phase 2

Map of stage one connection - Bicester to Bletchley / Milton Keynes
Map of Connection Stage One – Bicester to Bletchley/Milton Keynes

Phase 2 will upgrade and reconstruct existing and mothballed (no longer in use) sections of line that link Bicester to Bletchley and Milton Keynes. This phase is being funded by the Department for Transport with a contribution from the East West Rail Consortium.

Find out more about the project

Connection Stage two

This Connection Stage is about creating a reliable connection for two trains an hour from Oxford to Bedford – which can then be extended to Cambridge in later Connection Stages.

Some works on this section were previously proposed and consented as part of the Western Section, but they are not sufficient to run a reliable 2 trains per hour service to Bedford, let alone extend that service to Cambridge.  EWR Co are looking at this holistically, to deliver a full Oxford to Cambridge train service, and that is going to require significantly more investment than envisaged by Network Rail for the Western Section – including the remodelling of Bedford Station.

The ambition is to get trains up and running from Oxford to Bedford as quickly as possible. EWR have put forward suggestions as part of the 2021 consultation and will submit a funding bid to Government for the construction of this section of East West Rail in the 2021 Spending Review.  

Connection Stage three

This is the final connection stage of the East West Rail project and completes the train journey from Oxford to Cambridge.  

Following the consultation, they’ll be looking to unlock Government funding for this final section in the 2021 Spending Review.  

Find out more

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