What the East West Rail Project means for passengers

Computer image of proposed new Winslow station looking north-east from platform level

In 2015, a new railway reconnected Scottish communities with a major destination for the first time in almost 50 years.

This month, we took a significant step forward in doing the same for passengers in South East England.

The Secretary of State for Transport has approved our Transport and Works Act Order application for the first rail link in more than 50 years between Oxford, Bedford, Milton Keynes and Aylesbury.

This approval has given us permission to start work on the next phase of the project, which will connect communities and business between Oxford and these large towns.

Gallery: The proposed Winslow and Bletchley railway stations.

It will enable:

  • Two trains an hour each way between Oxford and Milton Keynes
  • One train an hour each way between Oxford and Bedford
  • One train an hour each way between Milton Keynes and Aylesbury

The new railway will also connect the Great Western Main Line, Chiltern Main Line, West Coast Main Line and Midland Main Line – providing passengers with much-improved cross-country rail links from East to West:

East West Rail Project route

The line will help to:

  • Create jobs
  • Boost economic growth
  • Encourage people out of cars and onto public transport
  • Enable sustainable development for generations to come.

Tim Shoveller, managing director for Network Rail’s North West and Central Region, said: Building a new railway would transform connectivity and journey times across the heart of the country.

“East West Rail promises to provide a greener, low carbon transport system which will bring huge benefits to passengers and businesses – driving economic growth and creating opportunities for housing and new jobs.” 

East West Rail Project geographical route map

The success of the Borders Railway

The milestone follows our reopening of the Borders Railway in 2015, which reconnected local communities with Scotland’s capital by rail for the first time since 1969.

The 30-mile route – the UK’s longest new domestic line in more than 100 years – reversed a controversial closure that had left “a profound sense of sadness” in its wake, according to Bruce Ball, author of The Spirit of the Borders Railway.

It takes passengers between Tweedbank and Edinburgh in under an hour and trains run half hourly during peak times.

Gallery: building the Borders Railway

The railway has proven a huge success – passengers have made millions of journeys on the successor to the Waverley Route since its opening, according to the Borders Railway.

The railway’s website says it “is breathing new life into the economies of the Scottish Borders, Midlothian and Edinburgh, offering fantastic opportunities for business, investment and employment”.

New stations make better connections

We’re improving transport links on existing railway lines, too. For instance, Meridian Water in Enfield, London, officially opened in June as part of a £6bn development of the area led by Enfield Council. The new station serves passengers ahead of the construction of 10,000 homes and the creation of thousands of jobs.

It replaced the existing Angel Road station to provide better accessibility for passengers; stairs and lifts enable step-free access across the railway and to the concourse.

In June 2018, the Network Rail-built Maghull North station near Liverpool opened – the first additional station on the Merseyrail network in 20 years.

The £13m scheme was part of a broader £340m railway investment in the Liverpool City Region, which forms part of the Great North Rail Project to transform travel in the region.

Meridian Water railway station

Read more:

People and the railway: reconnecting Scotland

How fast can we build a railway station?

Stations Day: 10 times we delivered better stations for passengers

New Stations Improvement Programme

New Stations Fund

Putting passengers first