Campaign

Ox-Cam UK Map

Please sign our petition to complete the line from Oxford to Cambridge - click on the button below.

If you have registered previously and your personal details have changed then please email oxcam@railfuture.org.uk with your name and details to be updated. In future we will be providing a 'self-care' facility to amend these details on the website.

Latest news: Network Rail (NR) submitted a Transport & Works Act (TWA) Application on Friday 27 July 2018 to allow it to undertake construction to reopen the western section betweeen Bicester and Bletchley (and other works on the line towards Bedford). This triggered a statutory objection period (ended 7 September 2018) in which people could object and, more importantly for supporters, to write in support of the scheme. The email address for any enquiries or updates to submissions is transportandworksact at dft.gsi.gov.uk.

Naturally Railfuture submitted a response to the Department for Transport in full support of the scheme. It can be read HERE.

Councillor Mark Shaw, Chairman of the East West Rail Consortium of councils which has campaigned for the reopening of the Varsity Line since 1995, said: "I'd really encourage people to give their views directly to the Department for Transport and leave them in no doubt about the public's appetite for getting trains on tracks as soon as possible.". Railfuture echoes this, and urges as many supportive responses as possible.

The documents are available at https://www.networkrail.co.uk/our-railway-upgrade-plan/key-projects/east-west-rail/western-section/ and a CD of the documents can be ordered from NR for £5.

The consortium has some easy-to-read pages about the TWA application at https://www.eastwestrail.org.uk/transport-and-works-act-order-twao/.

The TWA application timescales, which may be subject to change, were revealed by Network Rail in spring 2018 as follows:

   TWAO Submission                                         0 days	27/07/2018
   Objections Period                                       42 days	27/07/2018
   Notification of Inquiry                                 1 day	11/09/2018
   All parties submit "statement of case"                  30 days	11/09/2018
   Request for proofs of evidence & statement of matters   10 days	24/10/2018
   Proofs of evidence submission                           40 days	07/11/2018
   Notice of Pre-Inquiry Meeting                           10 days	10/01/2019
   Pre-Inquiry Meeting                                     0 days	25/01/2019
   Commence Public Inquiry                                   		06/02/2019
              

After the public inquiry ends the inspector has to write up a report for the Secretary of State, who then has six months to decide whether to grant it or not. This is unlikely to occur before December 2019, after which there is a statutory six-week objection period, meaning that construction work requiring the TWA powers will not commence until at least spring 2020, although that would not prevent preparation works on operational railway land from being performed earlier.

More information about how to respond will be provided here once the application has been submitted.

During his annual budget speech on 22 November 2017, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, confirmed that an estimated £1 billion of additional funding would be available for the delivery of phase 2 of the Western Seciton, which will link Oxford and Aylesbury to Bedford and Milton Keynes. Obtaining a TWA Order (as mentioned above) is essential to achieving this. An Alliance of Network Rail and key construction companies (Atkins, Laing O'Rourke and VolkerRail) has been formed to perform the work once powers are obtained. The upgrade and reinstated line could open in 2023 although 2024 is more likely.

The East West Rail Company, which the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, designated in late 2016 as the body to oversee the opening of a rail route between Bedford and Cambridge, was formally launched by Mr Grayling on 14 December 2017 when he also visited Bletchley Station and Bletchley Viaduct. The company is working towards deciding on the route of the railway, which is likely to go close to Sandy (although Railfuture believes a route further north at St Neots has considerable merit as discussed in its report [see pages 6 and 8] to Cambridegshire County coucillors in 2013). However, it is important that pressure is kept on the government and politicians to ensure that the best possible railway is built and in a reasonable timescale. An opening date around 2027 could be possible if there is the political will.

Railfuture wants to see the new line electrified from day one. There is no cheaper way of doing it than as part of the initial construction. However, because of delayed and over-budget delivery of recent electrification schemes the government is not currently in favour of more electrification. This is something that must change and Railfuture continues to campaign on this, especially to ensure that the skills built up over decades that Britain lost in the early 1990s and had to expensively re-learn recently will not be lost a second time. Railfuture hopes that the completion of electrification of the TransPenine Route Upgrade, which Mr Grayling confirmed in July 2018 will take place, could see the teams transfer onto East West Rail.

The Department for Transport has agreed with Network Rail that the new Cambridge South station (which would serve Addenbrooke's Hospital and the biometric campus) will be opened as a four-platform station with the railway doubled from two to four tracks between Cambridge station and Shrepreth Branch Junction (where the Liverpool Street and King's Cross lines diverge) ultimately allowing capacity for six trains per hour between Bedford and Cambridge.

Railfuture is eager for services to the east of Cambridge to be planned from day one so that there will be direct services through Cambridge to Ipswich and Norwich. The Ox-Cam link will deliver substantial cross-region benefits.


East West Rail Progress

Over the last few years there has been increasingly good news about the East West Rail Link, although the full scheme will not be realised until at least late 2020s. Click [News Archive] to read Oxford-Cambridge news stories from 2010. These include:

  • The upgraded link between Oxford station and Oxford Parkway opened to passengers on Sunday 11th December 2016, with an opening ceremony performed by the Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling, on Monday 12th December. The track-work had been completed almost three months earlier, on 21 September 2016, as Network Rail confirmed in a Press Release.
    • First Oxford Parkway to Oxford train service (just 6 minutes versus bus link of 20 minutes) was at 08:44 on Sunday 11 December 2016. The train had started from London Marylebone and Railfuture representatives were on board it.
  • Network Rail announced that the East West Rail Central Section will run in a Cambridge - Sandy - Bedford corridor [March 2016]
  • Re-built upgraded line is opened providing high-quality service between Oxford Parkway and London Marylebone station [October 2015]
  • Options for Bedford-Cambridge 'Central Section' reduced from seven down to two corridors [July 2015]
  • Excellent news as study finds Bedford-Cambridge 'Central Section' has "significant economic growth potential [August 2014]

We should not forget the enormous political progress for the East West Rail Link in recent years:

  1. National Infrastructure Commission have taken on the burden of proving the case. Railfuture and other campaigners have nothing more to prove
  2. East-West rail is no longer just about transport policy. It sits at the heart of the government's economic and housing growth strategies. Big decisions affecting land values will soon be taken that will push this past the point of no return
  3. In the past, Railfuture and others have bemoaned the lack of interest in this project by local government, the Department for Transport, Network Rail and the Treasury. The 2017 budget statement was a game changer: it even included commitment to upgrade the railway in Cambridge to make it fit for better connections to Ipswich/Norwich, which Railfuture has campaigned for over a long time, and this can be used to advance other rail projects in the region
  4. As late as 2013 if you had asked officials in Whitehall if they thought East-West rail would get built, they would have smiled sweetly and said (something like) 'nice idea but there are too many obstacles to make it happen'
  5. Observers are sceptial that Cambridge-Bedford will be achieved by the "mid 2020s" but that is the official government position and Railfuture intends to hold them to it and expect it to be open within a decade.

UPDATE - See Railfuture Central Section photos about the Cambridge-Bedford route, uploaded in April 2016, and Western Section photos about the completion of the Oxford-Oxford Parkway route, uploaded in September 2016, which opened to the public on Sunday 11th December 2016 as a 'trial' day with the full service commencing the following day.


Help us continue to Cambridge by contacting your MP. You can send our 'postcard' (PDF 34kB) to them. Spread the message and get as many other people as possible to do like-wise. You could either send them an email with the address of this web page, or print the leaflet (below) and postcard and give it to your friends. Many thanks.

For further information about Oxford-Cambridge Rail Link read our 2-page leaflet (PDF 2.5 MB - revised Jan 2013). [Leaflet photography by Brian Forbes and Jeffray Wotherspoon.]


Railfuture held its national conference in Oxford on 2nd November 2013, which included a presentation about the Ox-Cam link from Patrick O'Sullivan of the East West Rail Consortium.

Railfuture also held a conference in Cambridge on 22nd June 2014, when nearly all of the speakers (including two representatives from Cambridgeshire County Council, which is leading on the Cambridge-Bedford section) mentioned the Ox-Cam link in their presentations. This clearly shows how important the rail link.

On 21st May 2016 Railfuture held its national AGM in Milton Keynes. The main speaker was Iain Stewart, MP for Milton Keynes South, who talked about East West Rail and how vital it is. There was also a presentation about the Borders Railway that reopened in September 2015, which serves a much lower population. It took only five years from final approval to opening to the public.


Ox-Cam mini-site developed with assistance from www.billingspecialists.co.uk.


 

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Page last changed on 12th September 2018.


About Railfuture

Railfuture is an independent, voluntary group representing rail users in Britain with 20,000 affiliated and individual members. It is not funded by train companies, political parties or trade unions, and all members have an equal say.

Railfuture campaigns for cheap and convenient rail services for everyone; better links for buses, bikes and pedestrians; policies to get more heavy lorries on to rail; new lines, stations and freight terminals. In short, a better rail service and a bigger rail system for both passengers and freight.

Railfuture is pro-rail but not anti-road or anti-air. However, we campaign for a switch from road and air to rail. We do not interfere in the running of the railway - we campaign for the quality and range of services provided, not how they are delivered. We are the only champion of all rail users.


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