Message from the Co-Chairs:

The OBRAG AGM will be held Tuesday 24th January from 7pm to 8:30pm in the Terrace Room of Islip Village Hall. We have provisional agreement to have a speaker from Network Rail who will be able to explain and answer questions about the new and planned future infrastructure changes at Oxford railway station and their impact upon rail services for Islip, Kidlington and Bicester residents. This will hopefully provide us with some impartial information to use as a springboard for further discussion about how best to campaign for improvements to the current service, in particular the Islip timetable.

The OBRAG coffers are empty, so we will be discussing a membership subscription of £1 per month, to be paid either in one sum or as a standing order (here is a form: Membership application form). This will also make it easier to maintain a membership list, so that we can contact members by email, although meetings will continue to be open and developments and events will continue to be posted on the web site. We will also discuss a draft constitution (Constitution) with a standing committee of three members, a chair, a vice-chair/secretary, and a treasurer. We are happy to fill two places and would appreciate volunteers for a third, the duties for which could be quite minimal.

We anticipate that now that the rail lines and station are complete OBRAG will move in the direction of becoming a rail user group to represent the residents of Bicester, Islip and Kidlington, including affiliation with Railfuture (for more information see http://www.railfuture.org.uk/Welcome+to+Railfuture). Advantages would include access to a common legal fighting fund if OBRAG were ever to need it, being “plugged in” to wider national campaigns to improve the rail system and representation of OBRAG’s particular interests and objectives within these broader campaigns. Affiliation would cost £21/year for the entire organisation. Of course, we will continue to work in close cooperation with Islip Village Council, as well as other stakeholders in Kidlington and Bicester.

The order of business at the AGM will be a brief discussion of the past year’s events, the Network Rail talk, OBRAG campaigning strategy going forward, a brief discussion of the constitution (any changes will be delegated to a committee to report back next year) and election of the standing committee. We will conclude the meeting by 8.30 at the very latest.

We look forward to seeing as many people as possible there.

Richard Povey and Scot Peterson, Co-Chairs

Update on new timetable after December 12th

It has been a while since I have posted an update, but now there are a number of issues that are on the immediate agenda and are still likely to be at the time of the OBRAG AGM which will be held in late January (details of time, date and structure of meeting to follow by mid-December):

A – Problems with New Timetable

  • Chiltern Railways’ planned new timetable will involve a major change in the evening peak time services since the departures from London Marylebone for trains that stop at Islip that currently exist at 1535/1750/1921/2135 will change to 1535/1650/2007/2132 (with an additional but not ideal option of catching the 1850 from London and changing trains at Oxford Parkway).  This is a further blow to Islip-London commuters on top of the already less than ideal commuter service in the mornings.
  • Thank you to those who have already contacted Chiltern in a personal capacity to complain about this significant further degradation of the commuter service from Islip to London. OBRAG is looking into coordinating with interest groups within Islip to issue a joint letter of complaint to Chiltern Railways and to our MP to raise awareness, as well as contacting the press to express our concern and disappointment. I feel that rather than angry protest we need to try to put the most rational argument we can to Chiltern as to why they should maintain a decent commuter service from Islip to London and from Islip to Oxford. I have spoken to individuals about this but I would welcome people’s thoughts on how to make the most persuasive case.
  • I am still waiting to receive a full copy of the timetable from Chiltern (not very pleasing) though I believe there are some floating around so if anyone could please email me a copy that would be great. Also, any other concerns/comments about the changes that will be made would be much appreciated.

B – Positives

  • As a regular Islip-Oxford commuter, my experiences have been pretty good lately. It has been quite a while since I missed a bus or train due to delays, although I do still have to run occasionally.
  • The broken ticket machine in Islip was an annoyance for several weeks, but this has now been repaired.

C – Longer Term Objectives

  • OBRAG has been involved in liasing with other rail user groups on the Oxford-Bicester-Bletchley-Milton Keynes-Bedford line. As well as attempting to influence the Islip and Bicester rail services in a desirable direction now that we have a very good piece of infrastructure in place locally, I think we should not lose sight of the bigger picture of the need to support and encourage where we can the completion of the East-West rail project, which will also benefit us in increasing rail connectivity from Islip and Bicester in the longer term.
  • Eventually it might be desirable to move towards some kind of federal structure of user groups along the line in order to better co-ordinate activities and avoid unnecessary duplication. I suggest this as another topic for discussion at the AGM.