East West Main Line Conference, Oxford – September 2021

September 30, 2021

It was great to attend Peleton’s conference about the progress on East West Main Line today at Oxford Town Hall. This was my second in person event in the same month, what a novelty post pandemic! Meeting people face to face is so much better than Teams. See below for my key takeaways:

  1. East West Rail’s team presented progress on the various strategies; customer experience, sustainability and inclusion. It is great to see the progress and hear about the timelines for opening of the next section; Bicester to Milton Keynes. Unfortunately, it will early 2030s before the Oxford to Cambridge full service will be operational.
  2. There was a lot of information about the 10% net biodiversity gain, an earlier commitment from Network Rail’s strategy that EWR took forward. Some key stats; 27 badger areas have been set up 100% are in use while an area the size of Winslow has been dedicated to biodiversity gains. We also heard about the ambitious long-term net zero carbon commitment. However, given that there is no decision to electrify the line, it remains to seen how net zero carbon will be achieved.
  3. In order for the scheme to be approved, the plans for EWR need to obtain a Development Consent Order (DCO). This is an involved process to obtain planning permission for a significant rail scheme and it is at this point a decision such as electrification need to be made!

For more information check out East Rail website and if you pass between Bicester to Bletchley you can’t help to notice the progress

Figure 1: EWR Roadworks at Bicester (A4421 heading eastbound)

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