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Railwatch 084 - June 2000

Thames Valley

By Chris Wright

The prospect of millions of pounds being spent on bus lanes and a busway, prompted branch secretary Martin Smith to make a presentation to West Oxfordshire district council calling for the reopening of the Witney-Oxford line. He pointed out that Witney, Carterton and Brize Norton are all likely to grow. Railtrack is said to be exploring the case for reopening which it has costed at more than £30million. The county council is being urged to consider a feasibility study.

RDS has urged Persimmon Homes to consider providing a park and ride station at Claydon Junction to serve the 300 new homes the company plans to build on the site of the former brickworks at Calvert. This idea was warmly welcomed by Aylesbury Vale Council's planning committee chairman.

The reopening schemes for Grove-Wantage Road and Kidlington have been allocated £400,000 in the county's transport capital programme. More than £2million is needed but it is hoped other partners will be encouraged to invest in the scheme.

RDS lodged a complaint after the Oxford-Bristol service was subject to repeated cancellations in the early part of the year. We pointed out that an unreliable service will prevent people switching to it. We also urged that the extension to Milton Keynes should be progressed as soon as possible. First Great Western said a driver shortage was to blame. Two extra evening trains are in the summer timetable.

More than £5million has been spent on Bletchley flyover to make it ready for works trains employed on the West Coast main line upgrade. The Bedford-Bletchley line is to be upgraded to 50 mph running and its class 150s are being refurbished. The prospects for the full East-West link was being discussed at a joint meeting with the Oxford- Buckingham Rail Action Committee in May.

Silverlink has welcomed the formation of a rail user group at Wolverton, formed with RDS help. The operator has produced draft plans for a new station building, has pledged to provide service information and to explore ideas on developing patronage including the possibility of a service to Oxford.

Quainton Road railway centre attracted more than 33,000 visitors last year and was planning to receive special trains on 28 May and 4 June. Specials may also run from Aylesbury over the August bank holiday.

Chiltern Railways continue to impress us with plans for a £15million improvement plan for High Wycombe station. From May, 10 new Clubman coaches are being introduced which means that Chiltern has increased its fleet by 50% since privatisation.

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