Monday 12 Dec 2016
Network Rail and Chiltern Railways open ground-breaking new rail line connecting Oxford city centre and London
• Completion of the central Oxford-Marylebone route is the first new rail link between a major British city and London in more than 100 years
• Service expected to see over 850,000 journeys per year to/from Oxford station.
• Latest segment of Britain’s Railway Upgrade Plan - delivered on time and on budget
• Scheme conceived by Chiltern Railway to provide flexibility and choice for customers - then delivered by its partner Network Rail
Chiltern Railways and Network Rail today opened a new rail link connecting central Oxford with the capital, following a unique £320m investment by the franchise operator and the infrastructure manager.
The completion of the new rail link to London – the first from a major British city in more than 100 years – sees central Oxford connected to Marylebone via successful new stations Oxford Parkway and Bicester Village. It has been just 12 months since the line opened from Oxford Parkway on the outskirts of Oxford in October 2015. The first year has seen over 1.5 million passengers using the line; this is expected to grow to with the extension into the city.
Chiltern’s new service offers Oxford commuters an alternative to travelling into London. The new service will offer two new trains per hour throughout the day between Oxford and London Marylebone with journey times to the capital from around an hour.
The new link is part of Britain’s Railway Upgrade Plan and is an example of new, direct competition on Britain’s railways creating choice and flexibility for customers. It represents a £320m investment by Network Rail and Chiltern Railways which have jointly funded the project. The idea for the line was conceived by Chiltern Railways who invested £130million of the £320million total cost. Network Rail constructed the line on time and within budget as part of the wider East West Rail project, contributing £190m.
A close collaborative partnership between Chiltern Railways and Network Rail has delivered high levels of performance. At time of launch Chiltern Railways are one of the most punctual rail operators in the UK and the company is consistently one of the top rated franchise operators for customer satisfaction in the National Rail Passenger Survey.
Commenting on the launch of the new line, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “This is the first new rail link between a major British city and the capital in 100 years and also a shining example of partnership working between the private and public sector. From today travellers to and from London Marylebone and Oxford will get increased choice, more trains and faster journey times. The link is also an important part of the new East West line to be built between Oxford and Cambridge and will bring growth and prosperity to this corner of Britain.”
Dave Penney, managing director of Chiltern Railways, said: “This is a significant milestone in the history of Chiltern Railways. The new line delivers meaningful benefits for those living and working in the region and will be economically advantageous for the regional economy.
"It creates direct competition in the rail market between Oxford and London giving customers a real choice and flexibility, as well as delivering the first new service between a major British city and London for over 100 years.”
Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail, said: "I am delighted that Network Rail has delivered the first part of East West Rail on time and on budget for our customers.
“What’s really satisfying is how this happened: Chiltern told us what their customers wanted and put up some money - then Network Rail, working closely with Chiltern, made it happen.
“Privately-funded railway upgrades to improve service based on customers’ needs - that is exactly what Network Rail is all about. Here’s to many more railway upgrades following this model in future.”
Notes to editors:
• Chiltern Railways conceived the new line and stations and will operate trains on the line.
• Network Rail built the track and stations on time and budget.
• The first Chiltern commuter service left Oxford station at 07:20am today (Monday 12 December).
• Video footage of the track being built is available including time lapse footage.
Press Office contacts:
Chiltern Railways conceived the new line and will operate trains. For the Chiltern Press Office call: +44 (0)20 7333 3014
Network Rail built the track and stations on time and budget. For the Network Rail Press office call: 0161 880 314
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 1.65bn journeys by rail every year and move hundreds of millions of tonnes of freight, saving almost 8m lorry journeys. We employ 38,000 people across Britain and work round-the-clock, each and every day, to provide a safe, reliable railway.
About the Railway Upgrade Plan
The Railway Upgrade Plan is Network Rail's investment plan for Britain's railways. It makes up two-thirds of Network Rail's £40bn spending priorities for the five years to 2019 and represents the biggest sustained programme of rail modernisation since the Victoria era. It is designed to provide more capacity, relieve crowding and respond to the tremendous growth Britain's railways continue to experience; passenger numbers have doubled in the past 20 years and are set to double again over the next 25 years - so we need to continue to invest in building a bigger, better railway. For passengers, that means:
- longer, faster more frequent trains;
- better, more reliable infrastructure; and
- better facilities for passengers, especially at stations.