People are being encouraged to take part in a consultation on plans for a rail link which will connect Oxford to Milton Keynes and Bedford, and Princes Risborough to Milton Keynes via Aylesbury and Winslow.
East West Rail will eventually connect Oxford in the west with Cambridge in the east, a ‘corridor’ running across the south of England which experts believe could become the UK’s answer to Silicon Valley.
It will improve rail journeys for potentially millions of passengers by opening up new routes for regional and cross-country travel and reduce the need to go into London for onward connections.
It is being supported by the East West Rail Consortium, an alliance of councils along the route.
Network Rail is a holding a consultation on the section between Bicester Village and Bedford, including a spur between Princes Risborough and Milton Keynes (known as the Western Section Phase Two) which begins on June 30 and runs until August 11.
It includes public exhibitions in communities located along the line.
This part of the scheme will use existing rail lines, some of which have become freight only or, in other areas, have been mothballed. Trains should be running by the early-2020s.
Councillor Mark Shaw, chairman of the Joint Delivery Board for the Western Section, said: “East West Rail is about so much more than upgrading old bits of track to take on new services. It is an essential piece of infrastructure which will unlock the region’s huge economic potential and support planned housing growth – that’s why it has the support of the councils which sit along its route. We continue to lobby for it to be completed as soon as possible.
“However, I recognise that people who live near to the route may have questions about how East West Rail’s construction and new services could affect them.
“That’s why I’m encouraging as many people as possible to go along to the public exhibitions and speak directly to the engineers, planners, environmental experts and property specialists involved in the scheme. Residents can also submit their views to Network Rail’s consultation, so please, make your voice heard.”
Phase One of the Western Section, a link between Oxford, Oxford Parkway and Bicester Village, was completed last year. The Central Section, between Bedford and Cambridge, is the most challenging part of the scheme as much of the old railway has been built over.
A route via Sandy has been identified as the ‘preferred corridor’ for a new line and work on this continues. Work is also continuing assessing ways the existing connections between Cambridge and Norwich and Ipswich in the Eastern Section can be improved.
Following a study of the region by the National Infrastructure Commission, its deputy chair, Sir John Armitt, said, ‘the corridor connecting Cambridge, Milton Keynes and Oxford could be Britain’s Silicon Valley – a globally recognised centre for science, technology and innovation’.
Log onto http://ewrconsultation.co.uk
Bicester 10 July 12-8pm John Paul II Centre, Henley House, The Causeway, OX26 6AW
Bletchley 11 July 12-8pm Scots Sports and Social Club, Selbourne Avenue, MK3 5BX
Winslow 12 July 12-8pm Public Hall, Elmfields Gate, MK18 3JG
Launton 13 July 12-8pm Sports and Social Club, Bicester Road, OX26 5DP
Waddesdon 14 July 12-8pm Waddesdon Village Hall, Baker Street, HP18 0LQ
Newton Longville 17 July 3-7pm 2 Paradise, MK17 0AQ
Bedford 18 July 12-8pm Harpur Suite, St. Paul’s Square, MK40 1SJ
Marston Moretaine 19 July 12-8pm The Forest Centre, Station Road, MK43 0PR
Charndon 20 July 3-7pm Community Centre, Charndon Playing Fields, Steeple Claydon Road, OX27 0BL
Princes Risborough 21 July 12-8pm Elim Church@Risborough, 9 Bell Street, HP27 0DE