Winslow residents outraged and disappointed over 'noisy and clunky' diesel trains

People whose homes back on to the East West Rail track expected the line would use quieter hybrid rolling stock
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Winslow residents aired their concerns over the type of trains to be used on East West Rail, at a meeting chaired by Buckingham MP Greg Smith.

The meeting at the Bell Hotel was between representatives of East West Rail and residents of Comerford Way, McLernon Way and Courthouse Close, whose houses back on to the track.

Originally scheduled to open in 2017, the first stage of East West Rail, called Connection Stage 1 (CS1), from Oxford to Bletchley/Milton Keynes, is now due to open from December 2024, operating two passenger trains an hour through Winslow.

Greg Smith MP chairs the meeting at the Bell Hotel in WinslowGreg Smith MP chairs the meeting at the Bell Hotel in Winslow
Greg Smith MP chairs the meeting at the Bell Hotel in Winslow

When the East West Rail project launched in 2012, the line between Oxford and Bedford was flagged as being electric, but the current plan is for diesel-only trains.

About 40 residents attended the meeting last Friday, January 21.

Speaking afterwards, James Walker said: "We'd been told the trains were going to be hybrid, so it's disappointing that they are going to be diesel."

Winslow resident Caroline Cornell said: "We are outraged to hear that it's going to be diesel - we were told initially that it would be hybrid trains.

"We have been sold a pup.

"Diesel trains can damage health, they can lead to bronchitis and childhood asthma, they are noisy and clunky."

Greg Smith, whose office organised the meeting, said: "It was my understanding East West Rail would launch with bi-mode trains.

"If they launch with diesel only, that is deeply disappointing.

"My view on the railway is that it should launch with trains able to run on battery through built-up areas, with a commitment to hydrogen trains in the future, which will save our beautiful Buckinghamshire countryside the ugliness of electricity gantries along the whole line.”

Winslow resident John Schofield said: "There has been a lot of noise and dust and an awful lot of disruption caused by the work.

"They said it was going to be electric, then half and half and now it's going to be diesel.

"This is not environmentally friendly. We are not happy about it being diesel."

An East West Railway Company spokesperson said: "We are grateful to the residents of east Winslow for their time on Friday to discuss our work in the area.

"Low-emission diesel trains will initially run on opening and this has been the publicly stated intention for Connection Stage 1 since the TWAO (Transport and Works Act Order) was granted in 2020.

"Passive provision is already being made for electrification, and we are currently working with government to agree the best approach to deliver on our net zero carbon ambition, when the full Oxford-Cambridge services opens."

A follow-up public meeting is due to be arranged by East West Rail and Greg Smith's office in March.