Chiltern Railways, part of the Arriva Group, has today opened a new rail link connecting central Oxford with London, following a Â£320m investment by Chiltern and Network Rail.
The new link to London, which was officially opened by transport secretary Chris Grayling, sees central Oxford connecting to London Marylebone via Oxford Parkway and Bicester Village. It has been just 12 months since the line opened from Oxford Parkway on the outskirts of Oxford, with the first year seeing over 1.5 million passengers using the line, a number expected to grow with the extension into the city.
Chilternâ€™s new service offers commuters from Oxford an alternative to travelling into London, with two new trains per hour throughout the day between Oxford and London Marylebone. It is the first new rail link to London from a major British city in more than 100 years.
The new link is part of Britainâ€™s Railway Upgrade Plan and represents a Â£320m investment by Network Rail and Chiltern Railways which have jointly funded the project. The partnership between Chiltern Railways and Network Rail has delivered high levels of performance. At time of launch Chiltern Railways are one of the most punctual rail operators in the UK and the company is consistently one of the top rated franchises for customer satisfaction in the National Rail Passenger Survey.
Dave Penney, Managing Director of Chiltern Railways said: “This is a significant milestone in the history of Chiltern Railways. The new line delivers meaningful benefits for those living and working in the region and will be economically advantageous for the regional economy. It creates direct competition in the rail market between Oxford and London giving customers a real choice and flexibility, as well as delivering the first new service between a major British city and London for over 100 years.â€
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: â€œThis is the first new rail link between a major British city and the capital in 100 years and also a shining example of partnership working between the private and public sector. From today travellers to and from London Marylebone and Oxford will get increased choice, more trains and faster journey times. The link is also an important part of the new East West line to be built between Oxford and Cambridge and will bring growth and prosperity to this corner of Britain.â€
Mark Carne, Chief Executive of Network Rail, said: “I am delighted that Network Rail has delivered the first part of East West Rail on time and on budget for our customers. â€œWhatâ€™s really satisfying is how this happened: Chiltern told us what their customers wanted and put up some money – then Network Rail, working closely with Chiltern, made it happen. Privately-funded railway upgrades to improve service based on customersâ€™ needs – that is exactly what Network Rail is all about. Hereâ€™s to many more railway upgrades following this model in future.â€
Within the UK Arriva UK Trains operates Arriva Trains Wales, Arriva Rail London, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, Northern and Grand Central.