Final hurdle for Chiltern's Oxford-to-London rail link
WORK on the new £200m Oxford to London Marylebone rail link could start within months if a legal challenge is resolved.
Chiltern Railways confirmed enabling works along the line had started and major work could start at either the end of April or early inMay.
But there is one hurdle to still in the way after a legal challenge was launched against the Department for Transport over the process it used to grant the rail operator a transport works order.
The Government has applied to the High Court to expedite the case, on the grounds that it is a “significant” project, and will find out within the next fortnight whether the move has been approved.
Chiltern Railways’ chief project engineer Stephen Barker told Bicester town councillors last week that his firm’s legal advisers were “confident” the challenge would fail.
He said: “We have obviously taken legal advice and believe the case has very little chance of succeeding. A legal challenge can take 18 months to two years to work its way through the courts.
“Because we’re dealing with a scheme of national significance, they were able to apply to the court to have the case expedited.
“We should hear in the next two weeks if the application has been accepted and hope by the end of March it will have been dealt with. “If the legal challenge is concluded favourably, in adequate time, work on the rest of the scheme will start late April or early May.”
If all goes to plan the Oxford to London link via Bicester will open by Easter 2015, offering thousands of Oxford commuters an alternative route into London and an new link to High Wycombe.
The rail operator will be under pressure from the Department for Transport to complete the project on time, as work to install electric power supplies and new signals on the route between Oxford, Reading and London will be in full swing by 2015.
The Government cleared the way for Chiltern Railways to extend its network last October. The firm said it had taken more than four years to get to this stage at a cost of £10m.
Chiltern will co-operate on the scheme with Network Rail, which is to rebuild the Bicester to Milton Keynes East West rail route.
THE scheme will see two new platforms at Oxford station; a new station built at Water Eaton park and ride, just outside Kidlington; Bicester Town and Islip stations rebuilt and the disused grain silo at Water Eaton demolished.
Projected journey times are 66 minutes between Oxford and London, and 14 minutes from Oxford to Bicester.
That compares with the current journey time of Oxford to London Paddington of 55 minutes and Oxford to Bicester of 25 minutes.
- There will be two Oxford to London Marylebone trains between every hour.