Railfuture AGM, Oxford remodelling and line completion

Railfuture have their branch AGM on Wednesday 7th May from 7pm at The King’s Centre, Osney Mead, Oxford OX2 0ES, where Mike Hogg of First Group will make a presentation and answer questions on the future for Oxford Station.

Reopening our line between Water Eaton and Oxford critically depends upon the Oxford Area Remodelling project, due to begin next year, which includes new signalling and (hopefully) the refurbishment of two north platforms.  My understanding is that it also now includes the upgrading of our line to Water Eaton.

No-one seems to know either the scope of this project or how it will affect service, WE to Oxford.  Perhaps Mike Hogg will have some idea.  The only ray of hope is that the MoD will insist on minimal further interruption.  (Note that they are still running trains down through Oxford.)

Unfortunately, I cannot attend, and would welcome comments posted by any who can go along.

New timetable (from May 17th)

In case you have not seen a copy, there is only one change (as far as I can see – no liability accepted!) :  the 07.30 from Bicester leaves 10mins earlier, though is scheduled to arrive at Oxford Station at the same time (08.23).  Departure from Islip is now scheduled 07.40 (8mins earlier).

I suspect this is simply in respect of experience with congestion, to raise the chances of getting in on time.

No-one could ask for a better demonstration of how bus compares with train :  a reliable and comfortable 25mins becomes an unreliable, uncomfortable 53mins. The new rail service will deliver a reliable 12mins, I believe.

Bank Holiday bustitution

Just to advise caution re bank holiday service, which is a Saturday one on both Friday and Monday.  National Rail Enquiries and Chiltern journey planner (where you type in start and destination) have been indicating a normal service on Bank Holiday Mondays (both Easter and Spring).

I was set straight by a driver who told me his roster said a Saturday service for Easter Monday.

I shall presume this will also apply to Spring BH on 5th May.

Bustitution begins (dubiously)

Well, I used the train-replacement bus for the first time today (Mon 17th Feb 2014). It arrived 10m late, had space for only four bikes (extremely difficult to load), but took just 25m to travel into Oxford Station from Islip.  However, the traffic was light because it is half-term.

For some reason I cannot fathom, it arrived via the A34, instead of Merton.  Perhaps this explains why it was late. This requires it to make a 120-degree turn around Islip war memorial, which, I’m told, has caused it to mount the curb.  Returning to Bicester, it will be forced to cross into the oncoming carriage-way in Bletchingdon Road.

For some reason, bus travel always causes me nausea.  This journey was no exception.

But at least we have something.

I’d be very grateful if others could add comments below regarding the efficacy of the direct service to/from Bicester.  Perhaps by sharing feedback, we can help iron out the wrinkles.

Bus replacement timetable now available

Chiltern have now published their timetable for bustitution of our line on their website here.

Following our feedback, they have now allowed a reasonable time for the journey at rush hour (50 minutes), though obviously there will be considerable uncertainty.  (The A34 seems to jam regularly now on Monday mornings.)

One criticism I have already fed back is the failure to provide a 16.30 departure to Islip, which we did ask for at our meeting, and were told might be possible.  I don’t think it’s fair to ask Islip people to wait until 17.10.

I have also asked for news regarding cycle carriage in general, Bicester stop location and the route through Islip, which I hope will be via Merton.

Please let me (chairman@obrag.org.uk) know of any other issues you spot.