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East West rail, Bletchley to oxford line

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1 hour ago, stivesnick said:

Now that a certain Mr Grayling is no longer involved - electrification is much more likely. The intention is also to have dedicated platforms at Bedford so that the route is more independent from the Midland Main Line. 

 

It would be worth people contacting both the East West Rail Company (who are delivering the scheme) and the East West Rail Consortium (the Local Authority group that provide input) to ensure that the route is electrified and there are decent length platforms, goods loops etc built in the next stage of the project.

 

Could depend on the Government's ambitions for the parallel East-West Expressway, which is not supported by most councils that it is proposed to pass through, but MKC might be willing to support it 'IF' EWR is electrified from the outset. If OCC employed a similar stance where Didcot to Oxford was included, then we could see the return of the 'Electric Spine'.

As it is mostly north of Watford (but not the Gap) then maybe it could come under the Northern Powerhouse scheme.....

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23 minutes ago, Davexoc said:

As it is mostly north of Watford (but not the Gap) then maybe it could come under the Northern Powerhouse scheme.....

Diverting money from NPR to a scheme in what they would regard as the south would be a good way of infuriating a lot of voters in areas the government sees as a priority.  

1 hour ago, chris p bacon said:

I wonder how they're going to do that Nick,  the site of Bedford Midland is actually quite cramped now. 

There looks to be room to extend platform 1a through the building, and to add another platform to the east.  It would take up most of the car park, but it may be possible to deck over some of the sidings are to the south.  

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2 hours ago, Edwin_m said:

There looks to be room to extend platform 1a through the building, and to add another platform to the east.  It would take up most of the car park, but it may be possible to deck over some of the sidings are to the south.  

 

That would be possible, but I thought the intention was to keep East West seperate from the existing network ?   it would have to utilise the existing MML just North of the station, unless they intend to purchase a large volume of housing and rebuild the Bromham road bridge which is currently being rebuilt on the existing footprint.

https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/our-routes/east-midlands/midland-main-line-upgrade/bromham-road-improvement-works

 

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Wouldn't EWR only be turning back at Bedford, not going north? Unless they are planning to reopen to Northampton?

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Route E enters Bedford from the South on the existing and then heads North before turning East through the open countryside of what is rural North Bedfordshire. Obviously the route has to be finalised but that was the proposal. 

One of the reasons that Tempsford was a prefered route is because a huge area of land has been proposed to be developed by Central Beds, it is the ex WW2 airfield used by SOE.

 

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Ah, I understand now. Hadn't appreciated that it wasn't using the old alignment. Must keep up!

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Given that, even after electrification to Corby, the majority of EMUs will terminate at Bedford, would it be a major issue for East/West trains to use the Slow Lines for a distance north of Bedford ? (although I agree separate platforms would be necessary at Bedford itself).

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18 hours ago, chris p bacon said:

 

That would be possible, but I thought the intention was to keep East West seperate from the existing network ?   it would have to utilise the existing MML just North of the station, unless they intend to purchase a large volume of housing and rebuild the Bromham road bridge which is currently being rebuilt on the existing footprint.

https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/our-routes/east-midlands/midland-main-line-upgrade/bromham-road-improvement-works

 

 

Dave 

 

My understanding is that the E-W platforms would be on the east side so the station building and car park will be affected along with the carriage sidings south of the station. I agree that dedicated tracks north of the station would be very difficult. Hopefully more will be revealed in the next few weeks.

 

Nick 

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19 hours ago, chris p bacon said:

 

That would be possible, but I thought the intention was to keep East West seperate from the existing network ?   it would have to utilise the existing MML just North of the station, unless they intend to purchase a large volume of housing and rebuild the Bromham road bridge which is currently being rebuilt on the existing footprint.

https://www.networkrail.co.uk/running-the-railway/our-routes/east-midlands/midland-main-line-upgrade/bromham-road-improvement-works

 

Agree "Crispy".  EWR is planned to be a totally separate railway company to Network Rail, although there will have to be connections and through running or trains.   

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Wonder if the Bromham bridge will have to be rebuilt again?

 

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On 01/02/2020 at 20:24, Covkid said:

Agree "Crispy".  EWR is planned to be a totally separate railway company to Network Rail, although there will have to be connections and through running or trains.   

 

Unless the DfT are planning on forcing NR to sell the Bletchley to Bedford line then this EWR company will NOT have a through route of its own anyway!

 

Talk of it 'needing' totally separate infrastructure not belonging to NR at Bedford is nonsense - how else are EWR trains going to get from there to Bletchley other than via NR owned and operated infrastructure?

 

What is far more likely is EWR will 'own' the route from where it branches off the MML north of Bedford to where it joins the WAML outside Cambridge, plus the Calvert to Bletchly section. Oxford - Bicester - Calvert - Aylesbury and Bletchly - Bedford will remain 'owned' by NR.

 

 

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8 minutes ago, phil-b259 said:

Talk of it 'needing' totally separate infrastructure not belonging to NR at Bedford is nonsense

 

My comment came about because at one of the roadshows that EWR put on it was stated that they would have to utilise as little of NR infrastructure as possible. The example they gave was at Sandy where it would have to run alongside the existing ECML. I didn't ask but it could be that the existing Bedford to Bletchley & Bletchley to Bicester is handed over to EWR.

With route 'E' chosen through Bedford, I doubt the existing can accept any more traffic, especially during the peak, so it will be interesting to see what the proposal to increase capacity will be, and how it will be funded.

 

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NR is part of the Alliance building the line.

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17 minutes ago, chris p bacon said:

 

My comment came about because at one of the roadshows that EWR put on it was stated that they would have to utilise as little of NR infrastructure as possible. The example they gave was at Sandy where it would have to run alongside the existing ECML. I didn't ask but it could be that the existing Bedford to Bletchley & Bletchley to Bicester is handed over to EWR.

With route 'E' chosen through Bedford, I doubt the existing can accept any more traffic, especially during the peak, so it will be interesting to see what the proposal to increase capacity will be, and how it will be funded.

 

 

As has already been noted Thameslink services finish at Bedford thus removing a large chunk of slow line trains north of the station. As such provided extra platforms are provided for EWR (thus maintaining the ability for Thameslink to turn back its services at current levels) then its quite feasible for EWR services to share the slow lines to the north of Bedford for a short distance with freight and the Corby services.

 

As for funding - expansion of the station at Bedford would have to be paid for by the EWR project as they are the ones forcing the changes to happen.

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The slow lines North have plenty of capacity, it's the station itself that doesn't have much room.

 

Demolishing the existing to add extra platforms is feasible  but then encroaches on an already quite cramped forecourt with little room for expansion, unless CPO's are used for the surrounding buildings.

 

The other interesting section in Bedford is where the existing Bedford to Bletchley leaves the old formation and runs along the alignment of the old Midland freight chord to the new St Johns platform.  The area is very cramped with a single line speed restricted curve and has little room for expansion.  

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39 minutes ago, phil-b259 said:

 

As has already been noted Thameslink services finish at Bedford thus removing a large chunk of slow line trains north of the station. As such provided extra platforms are provided for EWR (thus maintaining the ability for Thameslink to turn back its services at current levels) then its quite feasible for EWR services to share the slow lines to the north of Bedford for a short distance with freight and the Corby services.

 

They finish at Bedford now...but if they could continue north via EW to Cambridge, would some services do this?

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5 hours ago, Pete the Elaner said:

They finish at Bedford now...but if they could continue north via EW to Cambridge, would some services do this?

 

That would require:-

(i) EWR to be electrified! (it was de-scoped and electrification dropped by C Grayling to cut costs while he was in charge at the DFT)

(ii) More 700 units to be built (not enough to go beyond Bedford without cancelling  other Thameslink services)

(iii) The Government to change the Thameslink franchise contract and get the agreement of other operators where allocation of fare revenue would be altered.

 

None of the are impossible - but its not quite as simple as just 'extending Thameslink'...

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The Government has approved the Transport and Works Act for the Bicester to Bedford section works. Not too many conditions when compared with the Oxford to Bicester upgrade. 

 

Serious construction work can now start!

 

Nick 

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About time after years of talking its finally going to happen, typical british way of doing things .Talk for twenty five years cut the project back nearly cancel and then approve  what a way to provide transport for the people.

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40 minutes ago, lmsforever said:

About time after years of talking its finally going to happen, typical British way of doing things .Talk for twenty five years cut the project back nearly cancel and then approve  what a way to provide transport for the people.

Sadly, this is more the result of democracy instead of being a British thing.

A public project is paid for by public taxes, but raising taxes is a vote-loser, so what government wants that?

The solutions are to borrow, postpone, pay for a cut-rate job or a combination of all 3.

 

Other than cost, what was there to reject to with Bicester-Bletchley? The trackbed still exists & belongs to the railways.

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The phrase ‘putting it in the long grass’ seems particularly apt.

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I might be some way from the mark here but driving North on the A1 over the last couple of days I've noted soil sampling taking place South of Black Cat roundabout. There are works due in the future on the Roundabout but the sampling is some way away from the planned works.  

If you look at the proposed route of EW the area of sampling is one of the few clear places that it can cross the A1 and river as it heads towards Tempsford, and avoiding the planned works to the A428.

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That's logical.

 

I believe that the consultation showed a desire for Sandy station to remain, but with a new interchange station so close, what form will the ECML schedule take?

 

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This project has been dogged by interference from all levels of government since the line closed even then people were trying hard to reopen but local councillors interfered with the process .The wires should have been kept as it would force wiring from Oxford south and encourage them on Chiltern to London and Brum thus providing excellent through services to the res of the UK .Still at least we shall gain new services hopefully run by Chiltern who will be owned by DB as now with new trains .

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10 hours ago, lmsforever said:

This project has been dogged by interference from all levels of government since the line closed even then people were trying hard to reopen but local councillors interfered with the process .The wires should have been kept as it would force wiring from Oxford south and encourage them on Chiltern to London and Brum thus providing excellent through services to the res of the UK .Still at least we shall gain new services hopefully run by Chiltern who will be owned by DB as now with new trains .

 

I think Chiltern Trains franchise is up for renewal next year, but what happens now after the Williams review is ever published, who knows.  Rail franchising is a shambles with at least two OLRs from March and maybe a couple more the way things are going. Electrification of EWR is a necessity and even though it is probably impossible, it would be ironic if Marylebone - Oxford were wired before the Oxford station area was designed, built, signalled and finished. I guess it might be possible to reasonably simply wire the bay platforms without too much disruption to the main station.    

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