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East West rail, Bletchley to oxford line

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3 hours ago, caradoc said:

I also spent time spotting at Bletchley, however this was in the early 70s which by that time meant getting the bus from Oxford, which had replaced the trains ! It will be wonderful to see the route back in full operation.

 

I lost interest in Railways at the end of Steam when young ladies became of interest. I rekindle my interest in the early 80s.

 

I agree it will be nice to see the reopening of the Oxford Branch. It will make getting to / from Didcot GWS at lot easier that's for sure.

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5 hours ago, 1E BoY said:


Bridges known locally as Three Bridges cross Water Eaton Road and carried the main lines, the Oxford line and a head shunt for the carriage sheds, the site of which became the former Telephone Rentals building. 

 

 

Ahh, the Telephone Rentals building. It was worldwide HQ, there were subsidiaries in South Africa, Hong Kong, various Carribbean countries, the US & Ireland at one point. The sculpture in your photo has been moved-it came from the quadrangle at the side of the main building, near the car park.

I started work in that building in 1989, the one next to the WCML, which used to say Telephone Rentals plc on the side facing the railway. Used to see, hear and feel every WCML inter city train as it passed the office, at the time the R&D lab. If I was in early enough, I'd also see the stone, hauled by a 56, coming over the flyover.

TR got taken over by Cable & Wireless in 1988, and merged into Mercury Communications Ltd in 1990. The buildings are still there, and until the early 2000's at least were still in use by C&W.

Happy days, and I'm still in a company which can trace it's history from Mercury.

Edited by rodent279
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While there may be some action at Bletchley, the jungle is taking over again at Winslow.....

 

IMG_0919.JPG.8e3df117471875acf7fcb2859f4707c3.JPG

 

And Claydon...

 

IMG_0914.JPG.e643c3ec3bc87acc5260a173c509b027.JPG

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Took this shot through the bridge wall, of Swanbourne station......

 

IMG_1017.JPG.4838c78264cfe4b97bd16725e957d618.JPG

 

They'd better get a move on before it falls down!

 

IMG_1018.JPG.86b013c2f85548e439d8099ec248bec7.JPG

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Work began on Bletchley flyover on Monday (14th), the compound off Water Eaton Road was pretty full a few hours ago and this crane was on top of the flyover. They appear to be installing safety fencing.

20190717_121004.jpg.21f2a79fae74bcb4b4af0ded920a59b1.jpg

 

A second compound has been installed next to The Park (public house) at the end of Duncombe Street. Vegetation clearance was taking place. Suitable signage has been erected on to the safety fencing. The pub and the Duncombe Street shops are not affected. The compound is in the former turning circle at the end of the street. It was once a through road onto the main Buckingham Road but was made a no through road many years ago.

 

20190717_125038.jpg.c856e2bb26febd66917a190032e7de76.jpg

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Work is progressing on Bletchley flyover at an impressive pace.

 

The distinctive side barriers are being removed currently on the section west of the main line towards Oxford, there is no evidence of it yet over the sections beyond the crossing of the West Coast Main Line or on the sections visible from Bletchley station. Temporary safety barriers have been installed where it has been carried out and no doubt more substantial replacements will follow.

 

The first picture was taken this afternoon from the steps to platform 6 which shows the side barriers.

 

The second image was taken a couple of days ago through the work compound safety fencing which shows the main access on to the former branch line track bed - access to the higher level can be achieved where the former original line and flyover tracks join.

 

The final picture taken from Water Eaton Road shows the missing barriers. A crane was located just to the left of the central tree in the picture and is lost in the vegetation. 

 

Should get interesting as they cross both Water Eaton Road, the West Coast Main Line and then Buckingham Road which links west Bletchley to the town centre and the Milton Keynes grid roads!

20190920_150108.jpg

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20190916_145303.jpg

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Does anyone know the financial workings out of this project ?

I understood that Bletchley - Claydon was mothballed but still owned by Network Rail, and at least some of the old track was lifted in the last year or two.  A new company East-West Rail was supposed to be formed to run trains between Oxford and Cambridge, including building the missing pieces of railway.

 

Obviously there are franchise passenger services between Oxford and Gavray Junction and between Bletchley and Bedford which are subject to a track access agreement. Presumably either these routes eventually pass to EWR, or EWR has an agreement to run it's trains over NR route, or EWR fails in it's plan and the services are run on NR infrasructure.  Presumably the rehabilitation of Claydon-Bletchley is being funded by Network Rail and I believe there are plans for Chiltern Railways services to Milton Keynes at some point.  

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To quote Wikipedi:

 

Since 2013 it been adopted by the Department for Transport and, in late 2017, the Government announced that will be delivered by a private sector consortium, the East West Railway Company, (rather than Network Rail).

 

I’m not sure that an operator has been selected/nominated/created yet, although I do vaguely recall talk of Chiltern being “shadow operator”, it always being necessary to have informed operator input during design and build.

 

There is a lot of stuff being done (or talked about) around ‘land development gain’, to reap income from the rise in land value that comes when a decent railway service enters an area, but IIRC that only applies east of Bedford.

 

The delivery approaches are different on different sections, fair summary here https://eastwestrail.co.uk/about-us

 

What I do know is that when I attended an IMechE lecture about it, given by one of the leading people in EWR, I was sufficiently confused by it to need to keep drawing diagrams for myself, and asking supplementary questions. The answers to which I’ve now ..... er ...... forgotten (it was 18 months ago!).

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Apparently MK council have changed their stance on the E-W expressway that is supposed to link the A34 to the A1 and beyond. They are now saying that they will only support the building of the new road through/around MK if EWR is built as an electrified line.

So, could the electric spine still be built? (At least Reading to the WCML via Oxford)

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I saw that too, and read it mainly as a subtle way of saying "not on your nelly" to the road link which, if you think about it, would definitely hack-off a lot of local residents by  being close to residential areas, eating bits of what are now parks within MK, or ruining even more nearby countryside.

 

More a condition that the council know will never be met than one they sincerely want to see fulfilled, with the double hope that, if it is fulfilled, it will syphon enough road traffic away to render the road link unnecessary, or that DfT can't afford both, so better to ask for the least locally disruptive one first.

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MK have joined a lot of the councils on the route of said road  hopefully this will delay the building of yet another project that is not required in our region.This road is being planned in league with housebuilders who want to put overpriced boxes all over the country not for a need ie lots of lorries etc  so lets hope it is stopped along with another unneeded project.

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In West Northants alone, i.e. half of one of the many counties through which this 'Arc' is intended to pass, the new Housing target for the next 20 years is to be lifted by 17,000 additional homes (from the 48,000 already called for by Central Government). God knows what the total housing demand will be for the entire arc - and all on green field sites - quite appalling!

 

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2 hours ago, lmsforever said:

This road is being planned in league with housebuilders who want to put overpriced boxes all over the country

 

I doubt it, that would be too competent and would require two government departments DfT and MHCLG to talk to each other! 

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Its not exactly a secret conspiracy: it has long been very public government policy to develop the Oxford-MK-Bedford-Cambridge corridor/arc as a major growth area for housing and employment, and If you travel along it (don't use the X5 bus, unless you have packed sandwiches - it takes b ages), it is easy to see that inexorably happening. The "brick works gap" between MK and Bedford is already largely closed, and smaller places like Cranfield, on the edge of the corridor/arc, are actively being grown as part of it. Bicester? Growing at a rate of knots. Winslow? Just you wait. 

 

My reading is that if that policy wasn't in place, the dream of a revivified rail link would have been very firmly buried long ago. Even now, I regard it as struggling for life, certainly beyond Bedford.

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Totally agree about extension past Bedford it is a line to far and always has been the DFT  is up to its regular tricks spouting about how good rail is but always putting road first.Electrification was quickly dropped and and as much as they could  get away with leaving a basic railway as that will be good enough for any one who wants to go by train.The new road will impact communities at least twenty miles away with houses new roads all springing up on green field sites destroying the countryside altogether.The campaign against the expressway is gaining momentum and hopefully our laeaders when they get back to running the country will listen to us.Or am I just hoping for common sense.

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If the policy is to develop the Oxford - Bedford - Cambridge corridor, then additional infrastructure (road and rail, if not other modes too) is going to be essential. The existing road along that way is useless, but by merely existing it's better than the rail provision.

 

Assuming the demand for housing in the area continues to grow, it's all going to have to happen sooner or later.

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7 hours ago, lmsforever said:

Totally agree about extension past Bedford it is a line to far and always has been

 

It isn't.  If you see the volume of traffic that heads into and out of Cambridge then you'd understand that there is a need for East/West rail (& road)

 

Cambridge is somewhat different to the rest of the country, it has higher wages and better employment and it needs to expand. That expansion is hardly likely to be into the fens so towards Oxford and MK is the logical direction.  The Blact Cat roundabout (A1/A428) has gone through part of it's consultation and is on course for replacement and dualling to Caxton Gibbet. This gives a dual carriageway from Felixstowe to the M1 at J13, and with the link road from the M1 into MK being dualled at present it gives a better journey into MK.

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On 21/09/2019 at 19:43, The Great Bear said:

 

I doubt it, that would be too competent and would require two government departments DfT and MHCLG to talk to each other! 

 

I would suggest you do a bit more research!

 

It has long been Government policy demand that any road 'investment' needs to demonstrate it will enable increased development (be it housing, retail, employment)  and the BCR calculations have been tweaked to make it so. Certainly during the 'Austerity' years lots of road schemes got ditched unless said scheme was 'essential' for unlocking land or development.

 

As things stand presently there isn't really a compelling need for a Oxford to Cambridge expressway as many of the strategic movements could be made by upgrading exiting arteries like the A43. However doing that would not open up new areas for development.....

 

 

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8 hours ago, lmsforever said:

Totally agree about extension past Bedford it is a line to far and always has been the DFT  is up to its regular tricks spouting about how good rail is but always putting road first.Electrification was quickly dropped and and as much as they could  get away with leaving a basic railway as that will be good enough for any one who wants to go by train.The new road will impact communities at least twenty miles away with houses new roads all springing up on green field sites destroying the countryside altogether.The campaign against the expressway is gaining momentum and hopefully our laeaders when they get back to running the country will listen to us.Or am I just hoping for common sense.

 

And where exactly do you propose you build those houses then?

 

While I do sympathise with the view* that there is too much farmland / rural landscapes disappearing in the South East, that needs to be seen in the light of:-

 

(i) A sustained rise in the demands for housing in the SE region**

(ii) A lack of 'brownfield' sites in said region which can be redeveloped.

 

In short, as with the other (infrastructure project you object to), without a massive change in UK economic direction the need (as proven by robust scrutiny of all the relevant figures / trends) cannot be disputed - and if not in the Oxford - Cambridge arc, Where?

 

Would a Cambridge - Haverhill - Colchester arc or a Didcot - Newbury - Andover - Winchester arc be preferable in your eyes?

 

Sitting back and telling us you don't like something - while perfectly undesirable doesn't actually change the realities of the situation the country is in***. Moreover there are no quick fixes, or measures which would instantly make the need vanish in a puff of smoke!

 

Now there is nothing wrong with holding the Government to account - i.e. demanding that the developments are as sustainable as possible (e.g. have good access to EWR stations, that said EWR service is frequent + speedy) and that all necessary facilities (schools, Doctors Surgeries, Community Halls, parks, etc.) are implemented and that the whole eventual development is compact as possible.

 

In short we are talking about a damage limitation exercise here - sticking you head in the sand and simply saying "No development absolutely anywhere near me" is not a position which stands up to scrutiny.

 

 

* Because most of Mid Sussex is constrained by AONB or other protective measures, my town is getting another 3,500 houses stuck on a 'northern arc' development obliterating farmland in the process. Do I welcome it? of course not, but on the other I understand the logic of undertaking the development in that place.

 

** A rise in marriage breakdown, more single people living alone, more people living longer, migration into the UK, and most importantly decades of economic policies which have favoured London / services / financial sector at the expense of areas previously dominated by heavy industry.

 

*** I don't like the way economic policy has been implemented by Governments for over three decades now - but given said polices are seemingly vote winners when it comes to general elections I don't see that changing in future, hence the need to be practical rather than emotional about these things.

 

 

 

 

 

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Agree with last post historicaly and now  traffic between Oxford Cambridge is light  main traffic flow is M40 A43 to Southampton freight ,Oxford London and Bicester but not Cmbridge.As I said before the road is a cover for house building.

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6 minutes ago, lmsforever said:

Agree with last post historicaly and now  traffic between Oxford Cambridge is light  main traffic flow is M40 A43 to Southampton freight ,Oxford London and Bicester but not Cmbridge.As I said before the road is a cover for house building.

When was the last time you drove that?

A421 and A422 around Buckingham - Milton Keynes do not flow and are cracking up.

MK - Bedford being upgraded, and even on a weekend is nose to tail to M1.

Black Cat being upgraded again because it can't cope.

Show me where this light traffic is.....

 

Alot of the houses are already built. MK expanding beyond it's original boundary, Buckingham, Winslow, Bicester, Towcester all growing rapidly one side of the M1, Marston Mortaine, Kempston etc. growing the other. It is already too late....

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4 minutes ago, lmsforever said:

 

As I said before the road is a cover for house building.

 

 

Indeed

 

But not building the road doesn't magically remove the need for large quantities of new housing. That need has been the product of 30 plus years of economic development biased towards he SE region which won't be reversed for many years even if radical changes are made today.

 

There is a valid debate to be had over where necessary housing development it is best sited - and as I said earlier while we may not like the situation the SE region faces pretending we can somehow muddle on as we have before is not a viable long term plan.

 

Unlike the route of HS2 out of London, when it comes to potential hosing sites I'm sure there are a number of possibilities along an arc from Ipswich in the East, round to Oxford and then south to Winchester that could come into play.

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1 minute ago, Davexoc said:

When was the last time you drove that?

A421 and A422 around Buckingham - Milton Keynes do not flow and are cracking up.

MK - Bedford being upgraded, and even on a weekend is nose to tail to M1.

Black Cat being upgraded again because it can't cope.

Show me where this light traffic is.....

 

Alot of the houses are already built. MK expanding beyond it's original boundary, Buckingham, Winslow, Bicester, Towcester all growing rapidly one side of the M1, Marston Mortaine, Kempston etc. growing the other. It is already too late....

 

A lot of that housing is being built precisely because HM Government have been heavily prompting the Oxford - Cambridge arc as a development corridor with new roads and a railway to come.

 

Had the Government not been promoting its 'vision' for the Oxford - Cambridge arc then its quite possible that said developments might not exist where they do today.

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11 hours ago, lmsforever said:

Totally agree about extension past Bedford it is a line to far and always has been the DFT  is up to its regular tricks spouting about how good rail is but always putting road first.Electrification was quickly dropped and and as much as they could  get away with leaving a basic railway as that will be good enough for any one who wants to go by train.The new road will impact communities at least twenty miles away with houses new roads all springing up on green field sites destroying the countryside altogether.The campaign against the expressway is gaining momentum and hopefully our laeaders when they get back to running the country will listen to us.Or am I just hoping for common sense.

If you're hoping for common sense to prevail, I have a feeling you're in for a long wait.

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2 hours ago, lmsforever said:

 now  traffic between Oxford Cambridge is light  main traffic flow is M40 A43 to Southampton freight ,Oxford London and Bicester but not Cmbridge.As I said before the road is a cover for house building.

 

You obviously have no idea about what the traffic flows are like in this part of the region.   1 mile+ tailbacks at Black cat heading East/West is not 'light' during the quiet periods of the day. I travel the A43 often and it doesn't compare to the A428.

As for house building needing a road as 'cover' it doesn't, Roads are now paid for out of house building from developer levy ( I know, I pay it!) It's now called Community Infrastructure Levy (Was section 106)  The reality is that people want to live in the South East, and we have, over the last couple of decades not built enough houses to allow for the population increase. so are having to catch up.  

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