East West Rail Phase 1

Project updates

We are maintaining a regular update of progress on this scheme which can be viewed below

East West Rail Project Phase 1 updates

Overview

East West Rail (EWR) is a scheme to re-establish a rail link between Oxford and Cambridge to improve rail services between East Anglia, Central and Southern England with enhanced connections to national mainline rail services. The Western section, between Oxford and Bicester, which was formerly known as Chiltern Evergreen 3, is being developed first.

A Transport & Works Act Order 2012 (The Order) and deemed Planning Permission govern how the  Scheme for EWR Phase 1 may be implemented. The Scheme connects the London Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street line, with the existing route between Oxford and Bicester. The track between Oxford and Bicester is being upgraded; the three stations along the route - Bicester Town, Islip and Oxford - are to be upgraded; and a new station is being built at Water Eaton Parkway. The original Scheme included works to Oxford Railway Station. These are no longer being carried out. Network Rail have submitted a prior notification to the Council, reference number 15/00096/PA11w, covering revised works which include changes to platforms, platform canopies, rail staff accommodation and  car parking

The new Water Eaton Parkway Station (in Cherwell District Council's area) will be adjacent to the existing bus park and ride site, east of the Banbury Road. There will an interchange with buses to Kidlington, the City Centre and the Radcliffe Hospital. Related road transport and infrastructure developments are likely to follow as part of the County Council Local Transport Plan Eastern Arc Strategy.

Secretary of State's Bicester to Oxford Railway Development Permission

Scheduling

Originally proposed for 2011 the Scheme was subjected to a Planning Inquiry in 2011 and 2012. The latest estimate is for passenger services from the new station at Water Eaton to and from London Marylebone to commence mid-2015.The existing passenger services between Bicester Town and Oxford were suspended in February 2014, with a replacement bus service. Works in North Oxford, between the Oxford City boundary and Oxford North Junction, including those at Wolvercote Tunnel, are programmed to take place in spring 2015. The construction programme for works from Oxford North Junction to Oxford Station has yet to be confirmed, but these are due to be completed by March 2016. This works programme will be influenced by the wider Oxford Station improvement work which is a separate project, still at the development stage.

The following key targets have been published:

  • Autumn 2015 - Chiltern Railways London Marylebone - Oxford Parkway
  • Spring 2016 - Extension of Chiltern services from Oxford Parkway to Oxford
  • December 2017- EWR Services Oxford / Aylesbury - Bletchley - Bedford / Milton Keynes

A dedicated Bicester to Oxford Collaboration website, contains details of the Scheme and its progress.

Progress with planning permission 

Network Rail have taken the project over from Chiltern Railways and are applying for approval of the conditions attached to the planning permission. Progress on those conditions is detailed in the chart below.

East West Rail Phase 1 (EWR P1)- planning conditions with progress

Noise and Vibration

The likely noise and vibration impacts of the Scheme are covered in Conditions 18 (construction phase) and 19 (operational phase) of the Planning Permission. Condition 19 requires the submission and approval of Schemes of Assessment for vibration and noise. The Noise and Vibration Mitigation Policy agreed by the Secretary of State for Transport in granting deemed planning permission for the scheme is available below:

Noise and Vibration Mitigation Policy

Vibration Scheme of Assessment

A vibration Scheme of Assessment (VSoA) was submitted in May 2014, together with a report from an approved Independent Expert. The Council has been considering the VSoA together with comments from local residents. In August 2014 the Council appointed consultants from Arup to review the documentation being considered. They produced an initial report in September. Arup's initial report was raised with Network Rail and its vibration consultants, Atkins.

A written response from Network Rail was received as a Technical Note on 20 January 2015 and was sent to Arup for consideration. Following comments by Arup and technical representation from residents, Atkins revised their January Technical Note. The revised Technical Note was also sent to Arup for consideration and is available below:

East West Rail Revised Technical Note - February 2015
East West Rail Technical Note - December 2014

Following their consideration of the Technical Note, Arup have sent the following report to the Council:

Comments on Atkins Technical Note - Condition 19 vibration scheme of assessment

This document has been passed to the Network Rail project team for their comment and Council officers will be taking its contents into account.

Noise Scheme of Assessment

In December 2014 ERM, the planning and environmental consultants for Network Rail on this Scheme, notified the Council that a noise Scheme of Assessment (NSoA) had been drafted for Section H of the Scheme and would be made public. ERM and Network Rail posted this document on their Collaboration website and hosted a public meeting on 16 December 2014. They undertook to respond to comments raised at or after the meeting if received by 12 January 2015.

ERM intended to send out their response by 23 January 2015, but later stated that this would be delayed due to the large volume of responses and technical detail inherent in these. On 30 January 2015 ERM advised that a further delay would take place due to further project discussions being required.  ERM's responses were received by the Council on 12 February 2015 and were forwarded to the Independent Expert for noise for his consideration. ERM have also sent a proposed final Noise Scheme of Assessment for the Independent Expert to consider.

The Independent Expert (IE) for noise will need to take any salient points into account in writing his report about the robustness of the noise elements of the NSoA. Once the IE has concluded, his report will be sent to Network Rail and they will then be able to submit a final NSoA to the Council. As part of the planning process the public will be given an opportunity to comment on any NSoA which is submitted.

The IE report on the NSoA was received by the Council on 18 March 2015 and can be accessed below:

Report on Noise Assessment of Route Section H - 18 March 2015

The VSoA and NSoA will be considered, together with officer recommendations, at Planning Committee. A date has not yet been set for this to take place.

Following recent enquiries made with Network Rail, Council officers wrote to request clarification about the extent of proposed work and its relationship to route sections I and J. A response has been received and is being considered.

During week ending 27 February 2015, officers also clarified the planning status of storage compounds near the Peartree Park and Ride. It is Council officers' understanding that the development near to the Pear Tree Park and Ride is going to be the main compound and access for the works to the Oxford-Bicester rail improvements within Oxford (ie. the section from Oxford Parkway to Oxford North Junction). Officers have been told that the compound has been developed with the permission of the landowners.

Residents' specific concerns were that the creation of the compound may constitute a commencement of the works and that brings about a breach of conditions because some of the conditions of the TWA have not been agreed/discharged. A planning officer has visited the site and found there to be a large compound and a number of portacabins and other moveable structures as well as plant, machinery and materials.

Officers believe that this would constitute permitted development as the provision on land of buildings, moveable structures, works, plant or machinery in connection with and for the duration of operations does not require planning permission (subject to the operations themselves having planning permission). This is set out in Part 4, Class A of Schedule 2 of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 1995 (as amended). As these developments do not require permission themselves they do not constitute a commencement of works, therefore there is no breach of conditions of the TWA.

A Permit controlling noisy activity was issued by Environmental Health to the main contractor for the Scheme in connection with overnight works to install a footbridge at First Turn Bridge.