Chiltern Railways has launched a new rail link connecting Oxford with London, following a £320M investment by the franchise operator and Network Rail.
The new service to London – the first from a major British city in more than 100 years – will serve brand new stations at Oxford Parkway and Bicester Village.
The new line, which has 35km of new track and 12 new bridges, will offer Oxford commuters an alternative to travelling into London via Reading and Paddington. It is expected to attract an additional 250,000 return commuter journeys each year.
Chiltern Railways has invested £130M of the £320M total cost of the new line and stations with Network Rail contributing £190M.
Chiltern Railways said that Oxford Parkway - a new station on the outskirts of Oxford – was designed explicitly to be attractive to motorists, to take cars off the road. Immediately adjacent to the congested A34, it is close to the A40 and A44 trunk roads and has 1,500 car parking spaces at the site.
The new service will offer two new fast trains per hour throughout the day between Oxford Parkway and Bicester Village station and London with journey times to the capital from under an hour.
Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne of said: “Investing in new rail links and train stations boosts the economy, providing opportunities for new housing and more jobs. By working closely with Chiltern Railways on this part of our Railway Upgrade Plan we have been able to deliver precisely what its customers want - a much-needed new transport option for Oxford-based business and leisure travellers to London. It will also help provide the capacity needed as rail travel is forecast to double over the next two decades.”
Under the agreement, Network Rail will provide the capital for the upgrade and recover this through a facility charge over the next 30 years, payable by the existing Chiltern Railways franchise and by subsequent franchisees.