Network Rail is to fund a £259m project that will construct the first new rail link from London to a major British city since 1910.
The new main line from London to Oxfordshire is expected to deliver much faster services on the Chiltern route to Banbury and Birmingham.
As a result of the Chiltern Railways’ project, commuters could see journey times of 92 minutes from its London Marylebone base to Birmingham Snow Hill, cutting the present journey time by 25 minutes. Similarly, journey times to Banbury could be cut to 50 minutes compared with the 67 minutes it currently takes.
Network Rail stated the centrepiece of the Oxford link will be Water Eaton Parkway in north Oxford, which is described as a high-quality integrated transport hub linked to the A34, A40 and Oxford city centre.
Adrian Shooter, chairman of Chiltern Railways, said: ‘This is the biggest passenger rail project for several generations not to call on the taxpayer for support. Working closely with Network Rail, we are going to create a new main line railway for the people of Oxfordshire and the Midlands. This deal demonstrates that real improvements to rail services can be paid for without public subsidy by attracting people out of their cars and onto trains.’
The ambitious scheme seeks to get motorists out of their cars and onto trains. It is estimated that average journey times will fall by 20 per cent, including from the M40 park-and-ride hubs at Warwick Parkway (J15) and Haddenham & Thame Parkway (J7).
The scheme is funded by Network Rail, which will reimburse the cost through the payment of a facility charge over the next 30 years — initially by Chiltern Railways, which expires in 2021, and then by the future franchisee.
The infrastructure upgrade will be carried out by main contractor BAM Nuttall, with partners Jarvis and Atkins. The project will be delivered under contract to Chiltern Railways.
The project will be delivered in stages, with the main line journey time improvements being delivered from 2011. The new line to Oxford, including Water Eaton Parkway, is expected to open by 2013, subject to Transport and Works Act approval.