Posted 15th January 2010 | 10 Comments

Network Rail to fund £250m Evergreen 3 Oxford line

NETWORK Rail is to provide £250 million to upgrade infrastructure for Evergreen 3, the Chiltern Railways proposal to create a second Oxford to London main line via a new chord at Bicester.

Chiltern Railways has just applied for a Transport & Works Act order for the work, which will also allow trains to travel between London and Birmingham in 92mins. The present journey time is 117mins.

Robin Gisby, who is Network Rail director of operations and customer service, said: "This is a great scheme that will deliver huge benefits to hundreds of thousands of passengers. It clearly demonstrates how Network Rail is working in partnership with train operators to continue to fund and attract big improvement schemes for the benefit of everyone who uses the rail network."

Over 80km of track will be upgraded to 100mph (160km/h) running, with 800metres of new track built to provide the Oxford connection at Bicester. There will also be additional platforms at Birmingham Moor Street.

Network Rail said the line is designed ‘explicitly to take cars off the road’. A new station will be built at Water Eaton Parkway in north Oxford, an integrated transport hub linked to the A34, A40 and Oxford city centre.

Chiltern Railways chairman Adrian Shooter said, “This is the biggest passenger rail project for several generations not to call on the taxpayer for support. Working closely with Network Rail, we are going to create a new main line railway for the people of Oxfordshire and the Midlands. This deal demonstrates that real improvements to rail services can be paid for without public subsidy by attracting people out of their cars and on to trains.”

Network Rail said its investment will be reimbursed by a ‘facility charge’ over the next 30 years -- initially by Chiltern Railways, whose franchise expires in 2022, and then by the future franchisee

The infrastructure upgrade will be carried out by main contractor BAM Nuttall, in partnership with Jarvis and Atkins. The work will be done in stages, with main line journey time improvements from next year. The new line to Oxford, including Water Eaton Parkway, is expected to open by 2013, subject to Transport and Works Act approval.

Reader Comments:

Views expressed in submitted comments are that of the author, and not necessarily shared by Railnews.

  • Anderson, Portsmouth, UK

    As I understand it there are no physical obstructions interfering with the proposed route and only a short chord to be built that requires no demolitions will cost £250m? Although claims of greater efficiency from any nationalised industry are often a joke I have to confess that historically BR was a very efficient organisation within the constraints of the technology available , I also have to agree with other posters above and ask how much of that £250m is paying for the actual work and how much of it is frittered away in servicing all the new interfaces between the spiders web of separate organisations that now get involved in railway projects? If every single hour that any person from any organisation spends in a meeting is costed at £100 (and it will be in many cases) you can guess that a million is burnt up in no time, and if you then think that every document and memo created solely to keep every party informed of what every other party is doing costs £1000 per day to create I'd say 50% of total spend is lost in project-based bureaucracy, contingency costs, risk-aversion and the constant need to allow 40% GP for everyone - even the b*******y Governement departments!
    If total costs were half what they are today,think how many truly reopened lines we'd have

  • Geoff R, Westhoughton, UK

    It's a rip off! The taxpayer left to pick up the tab for an overpriced job again. Yet again we see privateers getting the plaudits for all the hard work that BR put in. £800 Million!! For one lousy chord!! BR put two similar chords into Manchester Airport from the Styal line for about an eighth of the cost of this one. You can bet that someone has made a right few bob out of us again! Ripoff!! Ripoff!! Ripoff!! Nationalise, it,s the only way abck for our railways.

  • Anoop, London, UK

    I believe the success of Chiltern Railways is due to:
    1. Total Route Modernisation by Network SouthEast prior to privatisation
    2. Retention of experienced British Rail senior managers after privatisation
    3. Long franchise term (>20 years)
    4. Being owned by Europe's largest railway operator (and previously by a construction company, as opposed to a bus company or music company)
    5. Room for expansion (they have managed to increase the number of services in response to rising demand, rather than simply squashing passengers on board more tightly)
    6. Common sense (no driver strikes, no silly colour schemes etc.)

  • John Gibson, High Wycombe

    The irony of this plan, which I wholeheartedly support, is that if Dr Beeching had left the rail networks intact in the 60's, the country would not be spending billions of £££££££, to reinstate what Beeching's plan ripped up on the basis of false financial evidence. There never was a valid financial argument for what he did.

    It was always political - with someone like Marples in charge of DOT, there was never going to be any other conclusion. A bit like Tony Blair and the Iraq war really!!

  • Patrick, London, England

    This really is good news and does prove that long rail franchises can work by giving value for money to the taxpayer and by giving major rail improvements to passengers.
    Sam Green, your comment is the opposite from the truth. Chiltern have a close working relationship with the East-West Rail Consortium and Chiltern's project will assist the delivery of the East-West project. Basically, the two projects complement each other and Chiltern's design work is taking into account the needs of East-West Rail.

  • John Buckeridge, Woodford Halse

    It's a shocking indictment of privatisation that the laying of 800m of track effectively at the expense of the taxpayer can provoke such positive comments. This sort of work would have been done years ago by BR at a fraction of the cost. Luckily for Chiltern, BR already did the legwork for them on this line by restoring services on the Oxford/Bicester section 20+ years ago. Now we have to be content with Chiltern's crumbs, and former BR ideas such as reopening the line from Risborough via Thame to Oxford are nowadays about as realistic as winning the lottery.

  • H Harvey, Birmingham

    Most welcome and does show the franchisees can 'spend some of their money'.

    A closer look tells the discerning reader that in fact Chiltern are not investing their capital they are getting Netwoork rail to do that, Effectively then Chiltern are paying ncreased track access charges and Network Rail (ie the British Taxpayer) are taking the risk.

    Nonetheless it is a most welcome development.

  • Geoff Steel, Northampton, United Kingdom

    Lets hope that this scheme will kick start works on the proposed East/West Rail link towards Milton Keynes (Phase 1) and beyond to Bedford and Cambridge. This would allow new services such as Oxford to Northampton / Rugby via Milton Keynes and take even more cars off the roads.

  • Sam Green, Bournemouth, uk

    Surely for a few extra millions this could include an Oxford-Cambridge service via Bedford ,Liecester ,Stamford and Peterborough!Typical lack of futre planning in this country!

  • Mike Noakes, Haywards Heath, UK

    Really good news that this is to go forward.
    However, the claim about this being the largest privately funded rail project for generations would be disputed by BAA who have spent £1bn over the last 10 -15 years.