A special meeting of the CR Passenger Board was held at Bicester North Station on 30th October to discuss issues concerning the proposed timetable at Islip and Bicester Town (and at Banbury also). In attendance were the CR Business Development Manager (Thomas Painter) and the Head of Train Planning (Bevis Thomas), along with the chairman of the PB, John Elvin.
Most of the discussion was devoted to Islip, although one issue affecting anyone using the line to commute to work in Oxford arose, namely the lack of a timely return train for those finishing at 17.30. (The nearest proposed were 17.22 and 18.22.) CR have taken this on board.
They have many issues to resolve regarding the timetable, so no immediate solution to any individual problem is possible. Nor is there any truly clear deadline at which a new complete timetable can be proposed, since their internal planning needs require this to be available as early as possible. The best that we can say is that a fresh proposal should be available by the spring, though likely earlier.
Regarding Islip, there follows a summary of results :
- the commitment to provide eight trains per day (tpd; each way) will be honoured, and a revision proposed to the PSR
- CR will actively strive to answer the responses to their consultation, including the need for commuting into Oxford, and will liaise with me (as OBRAG chairman) to that effect
- CR has a binding commitment from Network Rail (NR) to afford at least two trains per hour (tph) between Water Eaton and Oxford Station from March 2016, regardless of the (enormous) Oxford Area Remodelling project, due to commence around that time
- the need to “plug” the gap between the proposed departures from Oxford via Islip at 07.44 and 13.42 was recognised, along with the need to allow for the use of discount cards (from 10.00); it was proposed to do this by exchanging one service from the ‘down’ direction (the 22.38 arrival at Oxford) for an additional ‘up’ departure (between 10 and 11.30)
- CR recognised the demand for at least one train each way in support of London commuting, with an early morning departure; however, it was agreed that, given the small number of trains available, that it was reasonable to rely upon services at Water Eaton otherwise, when traffic is lighter
- CR agree that 6mins is indeed a good estimate of the transit time between WE and Oxford.
I have not previously remarked on the weekend service proposed, which looks very good to me. Please add a reply here if you disagree. Note that CR are not obliged to offer any Sunday service, yet propose 7tpd.
Other matters :
- trains will initially comprise six carriages, and may later comprise eight; all platforms will accommodate eight carriages
- trains will have tables and free wi-fi
- parking charges at Islip (if any!) have not yet been decided, and remain open to negotiation
- I complained about the inadequacy of information availability to and liaison with Islip residents regarding construction and operation
- fares from Islip to London have not yet been decided, but are likely to match those from Bicester North.
Fares, cycle carriage etc. must await future meetings.
Lastly, I proposed a pump trolley race between Water Eaton and Islip as part of the inauguration. Good excuse for a party, methinks! Any there ideas?