Train passengers will be able to travel from Oxford to London Marylebone from Monday 26 October, thanks to the first new rail connection from a major city to the capital in more than 100 years – a joint £320m scheme between Network Rail and train company Chiltern Railways.
The main train route between both cities was previously via Reading into London Paddington. Two fast trains now travel from Oxford Parkway to London Marylebone every hour during the day, with a one-way journey time of 56 minutes.
Two new stations have been built on the line, both managed by Chiltern Railways: Oxford Parkway and Bicester Village – the first direct rail connection to the retail destination from London, enabling shoppers to make the journey from the capital in 46 minutes.
To achieve the new route, Network Rail engineers laid a 0.75-mile new spur of track at Bicester, linking Oxford to the Chiltern Mail Line – which runs from Birmingham Snow Hill south to London Marylebone – and 11 miles of the line between Bicester and Oxford Parkway has been dual-tracked.
The scheme promises to provide an economic uplift to the Oxford and Bicester region by improving connections with the capital.
Investing in new rail links and train stations boosts the economy, providing opportunities for new housing and more jobs. By working closely with Chiltern Railways on this part of our Railway Upgrade Plan we have been able to deliver precisely what its customers want - a much-needed new transport option for Oxford-based business and leisure travellers to London. It will also help provide the capacity needed as rail travel is forecast to double over the next two decades.
Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail
This is an historic day. Our significant and unique investment will economically advantageous for the regional economy creating competition in the rail market between Oxford and London. Passengers are at the heart of every decision we make at Chiltern Railways, which is why we conceived this new line to link London, Oxford and Bicester Village for the benefit of shoppers and commuters.
Rob Brighouse, chief executive of Chiltern Railways
As an added benefit to commuters, Chiltern Railways is upgrading its free Wi-Fi to 4G to provide a faster internet connection.
The Oxford Parkway to Bicester Village route is the first phase of the East-West Rail scheme, which aims to see train services run between Oxford, Ipswich and Norwich via Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge – without the need for passengers to travel via London.
Public consultations are already under way for phase two of the scheme – from Bicester to Bletchley, near Milton Keynes.
About Network Rail
Network Rail owns, manages and develops Britain’s railway – the 20,000 miles of track, 40,000 bridges and viaducts, and the thousands of signals, level crossings and stations (the largest of which we also run). In partnership with train operators we help people take more than 1.6bn journeys by rail every year - double the number of 1996 - and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We’re investing £38bn in the railway by 2019 to deliver more frequent, more reliable, safer services and brighter and better stations.
About Chiltern Railways
Chiltern Railways is a British train operating company owned by Arriva UK Trains that has operated the Chiltern Railways franchise since July 1996. It operates commuter/regional services from its Central London terminus at London Marylebone along the M40 corridor to destinations in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire as well as long distance services to the West Midlands along two routes. Services on the Chiltern Main Line run from London Marylebone to Birmingham Snow Hill, Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford Parkway and with some peak-hour services to Kidderminster.
Chiltern Railways also runs trains on the London to Aylesbury Line to Aylesbury (with some trains terminating at Aylesbury Vale Parkway instead), on the Princes Risborough to Aylesbury and Oxford to Bicester branch lines and a once a day weekday service from South Ruislip to London Paddington returning to West Ruislip.