Milton Keynes here we come as new Aylesbury rail link wins government funding

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AN AYLESBURY to Milton Keynes train link is right on track to open in 2017 after the Chancellor confirmed that he will fund the £250 million East-West Rail scheme.

The plan will restore a disused line between Oxford and Bedford, featuring a stop at Winslow and a spur line down to Aylesbury, and also stops at Bicester, Bletchley and Milton Keynes.

The brand new station at Winslow will be on Buckingham Road, on the other side of the road from the former station, in a cutting by a proposed new industrial estate and housing area.

A spur line will run through Aylesbury’s Parkway station, which will have an additional platform built, and into Aylesbury town station, where passengers can board existing trains to London.

Chris Wright, chairman of the Oxon and Bucks Rail Action Committee, who has campaigned for East-West Rail for 25 years, said: “I am absolutely delighted.

“It will create lots of jobs, at least 100 in the building of it, and will create 12,000 in the locality.

“Plus it will be easier to get around.

“There will be 35-minute journey times between Aylesbury, Winslow and Milton Keynes and 35 minutes from Oxford to Milton Keynes via Bicester.

“I think you would be struggling to drive those journeys in a car in that time, certainly at the speed limit and through all the traffic.

“I think it is a record, they only set up an all party Parliamentary committee just last week, and it has worked already.”

Rail user Kevin Down, 51, of Fairford Leys, said: “You always hear people say that we have to catch a train to London to go anywhere.

“I think this is brilliant news.”

The East-West Line is expected to open in 2017, and by 2021 will carry two million passengers a year and remove 1.5 million cars from the region’s roads.

Project manager Patrick O’Sullivan described the plans as ‘massively important’ and says he remains confident in the predictions.

He said: “We have had our business case verified by a number of various bodies, we are pretty confident our forecasts will be correct.”

After the Oxford to Bedford line opens, planners will attempt to open and link it to a £350 million line from Cambridge to Ipswich and Norfolk.

At Oxford, passengers will be able to board services to Bristol and potentially between Manchester and Bournemouth if the current line is rerouted.

Neil Gibson who is chairman of the East West Rail Consortium and also the strategic director for communities and built environment at Bucks County Council, said: “The Chancellor’s announcement that the government will support East West Rail is great news, and we welcome it.

“It brings the prospect of the vital rail link between Oxford, Aylesbury, Milton Keynes and Bedford closer to reality.

“Of course, we now need to work with the various government departments, with Network Rail, and with our colleagues in the district councils along the route to examine the detail and determine how we move forward.”

The Herald understands money from private investors is also needed for the scheme to go ahead.