Published: 10th August 2014
Network Rail (NR) has given just a few day’s notice to locals on the East-West Rail route between Claydon and Swanbourne to think about level crossing safety on the currently closed 12 mile stretch of line when it reopens in a few years time.
The project has slipped a couple of years because there are around 90 public and private farm crossings and footpaths over the whole route between Bicester, Aylesbury and Bedford. Each of these has legal rights of access and modern standards have to be complied with to make them as safe as possible.
NR is to hold a consultation event on August 13 looking at to make the line, mothballed for the last 20 years between Claydon and Newton Longville, safe to cross. This is because locals have got used to using the disused tracks as a walking route for leisure activities and a huge education project will have to be undertaken. This is a well-known process and is designed to ensure the public understands that railways are dangerous places to wander around on.
Those on the line of route will have the opportunity to give their views on how railway crossing safety can be achieved their area by attending this public consultation event. NR is undertaking a study looking at how to make the planned reinstated railway between Bletchley and Claydon safe for everyone to use and includes every type of crossing.
These range from normal level crossings to public footpaths and user worked crossings mainly used by farmers. Those being considered are those to the east of Winslow towards Newton Longville such as at Weasels Lodge, Swans Way and Swanbourne station.
Charles Hurst, Network Rail’s project manager for East West Rail, said: “Safety on and around the railway is a top priority for us. “The East West Rail project will open up many new journey opportunities, but we want to make sure that the reinstated sections of railway are safe for everyone to use, which is why we are undertaking this study.
“So far, we have discussed our initial proposals with the local authority, landowners and ramblers, but we are keen to hear the wider community’s views. This event gives us the chance to share our initial plans with residents and invite them to give us the benefit of their local knowledge and experience.”
Date: Wednesday 13 August 2014
Time: Drop-in anytime between 5 and 8pm
Location: Swanbourne House School, Swanbourne, Bucks MK17 0HZ.
The East West Rail project plans to reintroduce passenger and freight services between Bedford and Oxford, and between Aylesbury and Milton Keynes. It will connect the Great Western, West Coast and Midland main lines, creating many new journey opportunities, reducing journey times and avoiding the need to travel via London.
The work involves re-constructing and upgrading disused and underused sections of track and signalling between Bletchley and Claydon junctions and upgrading other sections of the line.
A further economic study of the rail project has increased the potential benefits of the scheme by tens of millions of pounds annually reflecting the importance of the project. But the surrounding area will have to wait another two years because NR said it will complete this project in 2019 rather than 2017 as originally announced. It is still one of the most important rail schemes in the UK and will be worth the extra wait!