OBRAG AGM – Oxford opening delayed AGAIN!

OBRAG AGM 2016

I must first apologise for including some inaccurate quotations of Patrick O’Sullivan of EWRC in the minutes originally posted and for causing him some embarrassment.  I should point out that the corridor for the EWR Central Section has not yet been decided, and the route via Sandy into Cambridge remains just one possibility being considered.  Also, there has been no date set for electrification.  Patrick was only able to report that it remains part of the plan.  These errors are mine, and not his.

Please find corrected minutes above.

Our speaker (from the EWR Consortium) sadly relayed the news that opening of the line into Oxford will not now happen until at least Dec 2016, meaning Oxford commuters from Islip and Bicester will have lost service for three full years.  (I blame Network Rail for this disaster.)

I (Ian East) have now stepped down from the OBRAG Committee, leaving Harriet Bayly as CRPB liaison and Henrietta Leyser as temporary chairman. Anyone interested in chairing OBRAG please contact Henrietta via chairman@obrag.org.uk.

On departing, I would like to thank all those who have helped OBRAG represent folk since 2003, especially Henrietta Leyser (there at the start), Jon Spinage (IT support), John Watts, Linda O’Dell and my partner Nicola, who’s put up with a lot.  My apologies for anyone not in the list, which is more likely down to my failing memory.

I sincerely hope that transport planning springs into existence soon, and ceases to be merely a matter of myopic “business case”, for all our sakes.

OBRAG AGM – 19th January

The 2016 AGM of the Oxford-Bicester Rail Action Group (OBRAG) will be held :

Islip Village Hall, Terrace Room (around the back)
19.00-20.00, Tuesday 19th January 2016

The timing allows rail travel from/to Oxford (18.03, 20.17)and Bicester (18.41, 20.11).

Your chairman is stepping down, after thirteen years.  Nominations for my successor may be made in advance via email (chairman@obrag.org.uk) or at the meeting and will be subject to election there, along with the remainder of the committee. If there are no volunteers to take on this role, OBRAG will discontinue.

Patrick O’Sullivan from the East-West Rail Consortium has agreed to come and update us on the progress of and prospects for EWR.

We hope to have someone from Chiltern present, to respond to questions regarding the ‘bustitution’.

All welcome!

Bus replacement service in Oxford (500)

Some people had communicated the refusal of some drivers to allow rail passengers to board the 500 in the city centre.  The Oxford Bus Company had also told one person in writing that boarding with a rail ticket was allowed only at a rail station.

The Chiltern Head of Train Planning has just confirmed that OBC will now allow people with rail tickets to board (or alight from) the bus in Oxford City Centre.  This follows a meeting between CR and OBC.

Let’s hope that OBC is telling drivers the same story!

Chiltern responses to early feedback

There follows two documents :

In particular, OBRAG objects strongly to the removal of the 09.02 service to Oxford from Islip and does not accept the justification given for not reinstating it – that the train is too long. It was not too long before. In any case, this is an operational difficulty unloaded onto customers.

The uncertainty over platform until minutes before a train arrives is totally unacceptable as it forces passengers to cross the platform bridge, and quickly, without aid of a lift.

The replacement bus should stop outside the station, and not at the P&R stop.  Also, services have NOT been as well timed to train arrival as was promised, adding delay.

Regarding better London service from Islip: the OBRAG position is that OPY is a reasonable option for more London trains, but NOT for local commuting to Oxford or Bicester, which should therefore take priority at Islip.

Delayed opening into Oxford acknowledged

Robert Goodwill, Rail Minister, noted in the House of Commons that trains are now expected to run into Oxford in September 2016, not May as indicated previously.

This is hardly a surprise, and may well remain optimistic.

Once again, I must condemn communication by the Consortium and Chiltern, who must have know this already but failed to inform us. Commuters from Islip and Bicester to Oxford will have been deprived of their service for a full two and a half years.

He also reasserted government commitment to the construction of Phase 2 (Bicester to Bletchley, and Aylesbury to Milton Keynes), with 100mph operation and electrification, though completion is not expected before 2020.