Failure to build new rail line 'would be the Great Aylesbury Train Robbery'

MPs and councillors should lobby government to honour the building of the Aylesbury-Milton Keynes spur of the East West Rail Line, which is under review, says action group

Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 12:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 24th November 2021, 12:46 pm

Failure to provide a rail link between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes would constitute 'the Great Aylesbury Train Robbery', a rail action group claims.

As the government recently announced a £96 billion rail investment for the north and Midlands, the Oxon and Bucks Rail Action Committee (OBRAC) is asking what's happened to the planned Aylesbury spur of the East West Rail project.

The Integrated Rail Plan for North and Midlands, published last week, set out the government's £96 billion plans to transform the rail network in those areas.

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Work in progress on the East West Rail line at Winslow

But at the same time, OBRAC points out, a proposed rail link between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes, via Winslow, is now under review.

Original plans for the East West Rail line, which will see the building of a new station in Winslow, also included a spur running between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes.

Now OBRAC is asking why the expected provision of the Aylesbury-Milton Keynes line is under review.

Committee secretary Chris Wright said: "Why should Aylesbury and Bucks not be fully integrated into the rail network and gain similar benefits?

Chris Wright, secretary of OBRAC

"Why should Aylesbury and Bucks not benefit from cuts in journey times for many trips to the north and Midlands and consequently fares reduced?

"Aylesbury is in danger of levelling down."

Mr Wright also pointed out that Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week heralded the £40 million rebuilding of the 10-mile Okehampton line, in Devon, as the government "rightly reconnecting communities, giving passengers the chance to choose rail over the road and travel to Exeter on greener cleaner mode of transport".

Okehampton has a population of 7,000, pointed out Mr Wright, whereas Aylesbury has a growing population of around 90,000 and Milton Keynes around 250,000, with further population growth planned.

He added: "Do not local rail users deserve to be integrated into the national rail network, rather than at the end of a long siding from London?

"Do not local rail users deserve an alternative to travel by road?

"Buckinghamshire Council has co-funded East West Rail studies and is providing £10.6 million towards reopening East West Rail, and the former Aylesbury Vale District Council provided £5.36 million on the assumption that Aylesbury would be served by East West Rail.

"Failure to do so will be the Great Aylesbury Train Robbery.

"Milton Keynes Council is providing £7.65 million."

OBRAC says an East West Rail link to Aylesbury would transform connectivity, journey times and fares.

It has calculated big journey time savings by avoiding travel into London, which would mean cheaper fares.

For example, 90 minutes could be saved on travel from Aylesbury to Manchester, with a fare of £50 rather than £68.

The cost of travel to Nottingham (a destination from Aylesbury until 1966) would be cut from £86.

And the fare to Chester would drop from £78 to £56 with time saving of an hour.

Mr Wright said he hopes the local MPs and Buckinghamshire Council will use their influence on the government to benefit their constituents and get the Aylesbury-Milton Keynes spur reinstated.