East-West rail link could re-open

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THE East-West rail link, which stops at Milton Keynes station, could be re-opened by December 2017 after a meeting in Parliament last week.

Plans to re-open the East-West rail route, which would take in Oxford, Bicester, Aylesbury, Milton Keynes and Bedford, were included in Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, and since then 25 local authorities have been working together to finalise funding commitments.

Rail minister Theresa Villiers joined MPs and other interested parties for an update on the project on Friday.

Patrick O’Sullivan, the East-West rail project manager, said: “All members of the consortium as well as our stakeholders and invited guests were delighted to meet with the rail minister.

“She has been very supportive of our efforts to get the east west rail line re-opened and her attendance shows her continuing support for this vital piece of railway infrastructure.”

A rail route between Bedford and Oxford once formed part of the ‘Varsity Line’ which linked Oxford and Cambridge until it was closed in the 1960s.

Passenger services still run along some stretches of the old route, including the Bedford-Bletchley ‘Marston Vale line’, and the Oxford-Bicester Line.

Track was re-laid six years ago between Newton Longville and Bletchley, and is now used for freight traffic to the Newton Longville landfill site.

The government will decide at the end of this month whether to include the revived route in its investment plan for rail infrastructure improvements running from 2014 to 2019.