by Chiltern Railways

Winter timetable brings new station at Edinburgh Gateway and Chiltern’s £320million London to Oxford link opening

Published: 18th December 2016

London-Oxford rail competition while regular ScotRail passengers to benefit from £3 million giveaway

Chiltern Railways has extended their operation to the heart of Oxford with the new December rail timetable while ScotRail has opened a new station at Edinburgh Parkway and advised passengers to check train times because of timetable changes.

The Scottish story

Most timing changes on ScotRail are minor but Inverness gains more trains on the Highland Main Line and a new station opens on the outskirts of Edinburgh on the line through Fife to and from the North.

Virgin Trains East Coast adds new evening trains on Fridays and Saturdays from Edinburgh to Newcastle, calling at principal intermediate stations.

The new Edinburgh Gateway station provides opportunities for passengers to change between ScotRail trains and Edinburgh Trams.

Sited on the Edinburgh to Fife line between the existing stations of South Gyle and Dalmeny, Edinburgh Gateway also serves trams running between central Edinburgh and the city’s international airport. Combined train and tram tickets are available.

Another change of note is that engineering work alterations on some lines are being suspended over Christmas and the New Year to allow ScotRail passengers to use trains more often, especially on most evenings and Sunday mornings.

ScotRail customers to gain £3 million benefits

By way of special compensation for disruption to some ScotRail train journeys, the Scottish Government has set aside £3 million to benefit passengers in 2017. Details including dates are still to be worked out. Monthly and annual season ticket holders are to get a free week’s travel.

And there are to be discounts offered to regular ScotRail passengers including holders of weekly season tickets.

Announcing this on 16 December 2016, the agency Transport Scotland highlighted disruption to journeys caused by investment in future improvements including electrification.

But many complaints have been about cancellations and delays for other reasons, including infrastructure faults and trains that became unreliable when climbing hills during summer weather.

They said:

Humza Yousaf MSP, Scotland’s Minister for Transport and Islands, said: “We recognise any level of delay or disruption on the rail network in Scotland affects peoples’ lives. This year has been particularly challenging as we take forward our record-breaking investment programme on the live network to deliver newer, longer, greener trains on our flagship routes between Edinburgh and Glasgow as well as further afield.”

He claimed that in many instances a free week would equate to a fares freeze. Phil Verster, Managing Director of the ScotRail alliance also highlighted future improvements.

Scottish rail campaigners lobby for more rail re-openings

Campaigners hope to win their cases for even more investment than is already planned in railways in Scotland. Electrification of the Edinburgh-Glasgow line in the EGIP Edinburgh-Glasgow Improvement Programme is said to be running a few months late but the first new electric trains are still expected to run during 2017.

Other electrification and improvements for trains, tracks and other structures, is also planned for Scotland in the coming years. Campaign groups are pressing for new railways in many places and also for new or reopened stations on existing railways.

For example, the Campaign for Borders Rail successfully called for a partly new and reopened railway between Edinburgh and the Scottish Borders through Midlothian. Now, the group is pressing for extension of this railway beyond its current terminus at Tweedbank to Hawick and Carlisle.

Other campaigners want to see new or reinstated railways in other parts of Scotland, inspired in part by the Borders Railway. Proposals are also advancing with political support for new stations on current lines, including at Dalcross in Highland, East Linton in East Lothian and Reston in Scottish Borders council areas.

Far north review commences

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government’s agency Transport Scotland has announced that a new group is to be set up to look into potential improvements on the existing railway that links Inverness and Dingwall with Wick and Thurso near the northern coast of mainland Scotland. The establishment of the Far North Line Review Group follows concerns about performance problems during 2016.

Chiltern opens final stage of Oxford extension and is an instant hit!

The 12th December was a historic railway moment when Chiltern Railways launched the first new rail line between a major British city and London in over 100 years.

Completion of the central Oxford-Marylebone route is forecast to generate at least 850,000 journeys annually to/from Oxford station on Chiltern Railways who were partnered by Network Rail in a £320million investment. Trains run to and from Marylebone via new stations at Oxford Parkway and Bicester Village and in the first year of operation, between Bicester and Oxford Parkway, over 1.5 million passengers travelled.

Chiltern’s new 100mph service creates rare city to city rail competition with two new trains per hour competing against Great Western Railway’s services to Paddington. Chiltern invested £130million and Network Rail £190million and they constructed the line on time and within budget as part of the wider East West Rail project.

They said:

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said:

“This 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.”

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.”

Mark Carne, Chief Executive of Network Rail, said:

Chiltern told us what their customers wanted and put up some money - then Network Rail, working closely with Chiltern, made it happen.

The new line in numbers

1033 days of work

23.25 miles new track laid

76000 tons ballast used

7000 newts rehomed

14 new bridges built

82 new signals installed

This is a genuine good-news story at a time when the railways are getting a bad press elsewhere and connects places such as Princes Risborough, Bicester and High Wycombe with Oxford and to connections around the UK by Chilterns sister company, Crosscountry.

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