Rapid progress on enabling works for the East West Rail project will allow construction work to begin from 2019, according to the UK’s transport secretary.
Chris Grayling said the line, which will link Oxford and Cambridgeshire via Bicester, Milton Keynes and Bedford, will “transform journeys in one of Europe’s most vibrant economic regions”.
He added: “As a hub for technical and scientific innovation, home to world-class universities and a skilled workforce that drives growth, the success of England’s economic heartland is imperative to the UK’s prosperity and productivity.
“Rapid progress on the project means we will see construction underway on direct, fast and reliable services from next year, delivering significantly better connections for passengers.”
On October 4, Grayling met with Network Rail staff on the western section of the route, including East West Railway Company chair Rob Brighouse.
As two of the country’s three fastest growing city economies, together with Milton Keynes, the Department for Transport said that completion of East West Rail will be a vital part of the country’s success over the decades to come.
The railway is being built progressively in three phases. Phase 1, between Oxford and Bicester, is already complete. Phase 2 will see major track and signalling upgrades extending services from Oxford to Bedford and Milton Keynes to Aylesbury. These works includes the reinstatement of the Varsity Line between Bletchley and Claydon Junction, a mothballed section of railway closed since the 1960s.