By Adam King - 14th July 2017 9:00am
Local residents are being encouraged to take part in a consultation on plans for a rail link which will connect Buckinghamshire with Oxford and Milton Keynes.
East West Rail will provide a link to Milton Keynes from Winslow, Aylesbury, Berryfields and Princes Risborough. And Winslow, which is getting a new station, will also sit on the Oxford-Bedford line, which includes a stop at Bicester Village. (Click on either image to view an enlarged version).
The overall scheme will eventually connect Oxford in the west with Cambridge in the east, a 'corridor' running across the south of England which experts hope 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 including Buckinghamshire County Council, Aylesbury Vale District Council and Wycombe District Council.
Network Rail is a holding a consultation on the section between Bicester Village and Bedford, including a spur between Princes Risborough and Milton Keynes via Aylesbury (known as the Western Section Phase Two) which runs until 11th August.
It includes public exhibitions in Waddesdon (July 14, 12-8pm, Waddesdon Village Hall, Baker Street), Newton Longville (July 17, 3-7pm, Village Hall, 2 Paradise), Charndon (July 20, 3-7pm, Community Centre, Steeple Claydon Road) and Princes Risborough (July 21, 12-8pm, Elim Church, Bell Street).
The consultation is also available online here
The consultation documents can also be viewed at Aylesbury Study Centre and the libraries in Winslow, Buckingham and Princes Risborough.
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 and cabinet member for transport at Buckinghamshire County Council said: "East West Rail is a game-changer for public transport in Buckinghamshire. People will be able to catch trains to Milton Keynes, while Winslow's new station will sit on both the Milton Keynes — Aylesbury — Risborough — London line and also the Oxford — Bicester -Bedford line.
"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."
Councillor Carole Paternoster, Aylesbury Vale District Council's cabinet member for growth strategy, said: "The East West Rail link will bring a major boost to Aylesbury Vale, connecting our district to key centres of economic activity, generating thousands of new jobs along its route and also opening up new rail travel opportunities. It is therefore very important that Vale residents play a part in this consultation process."
Councillor Alan Turner, deputy cabinet member for transport at Wycombe District Council, and a Princes Risborough town councillor, said: "Not only will this project provide vastly improved East West travel services, but will also enable greater North South interconnectivity options via Aylesbury, Princes Risborough, High Wycombe and on to and from London. It is a real plus for our local economies."
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.
Communications Manager for the East West Rail Consortium