Renaming Bicester Town station (cont.)

Here is a summary of the replies I have had thus far regarding the proposed renaming of Bicester Town station :

From the Office of the Rail Regulator (ORR) :

  • Network Rail does indeed own the station, which is merely operated by Chiltern

From Network Rail :

  • To change the name, Chiltern must follow the “Station Change Procedure”
  • ORR is ‘responsible for the above procedure
  • provided there is no net cost to NR, they will “will respond to their application taking into account the regulatory requirements of the Station Change Procedure”.

From the Dept. for Transport (DfT) :  “The Department does not have an approvals locus in the renaming of stations. This is a matter for the proposer to gather relevant stakeholder support and to agree the name change with the relevant operator(s) and Network Rail. It will then be for the train operator(s) to ensure the relevant contractual amendments are made to reflect the name change.”

I have no idea what language that was written in, but it sure ain’t English.  My best guess is that the following two points are made :

  • Chiltern have only to persuade NR to effect the change, since there is currently no other operator
  • they must gain stakeholder support before NR would respond positively (which they have patently failed to do).

They have yet to demonstrate the support of any ‘stakeholder’ other than the shopping mall concerned.

I am still awaiting a description of the Station Change Procedure from ORR, and how an objection may be made.

Meanwhile, I repeat my request for anyone who feels strongly on the matter (either way) to write to their Sir Tony Baldry (the local MP) who has promised to forward all material to his successor. (He has been a friend to our cause for many years and I wish him well.)

Train frequency and speed, including freight

I thought it would be useful to affected residents to pass on the details I’ve been given of train movement on the new line :

  • max speed :  100mph passenger, 75mph freight
  • speed through Islip likely lower than this, as within 2m of Oxford Parkway (OPW) station
  • passenger operation :  06.30 – 24.00
  • passenger frequency :  2 trains per hour (tph) until March 2019, then 4tph, in each direction
  • freight frequency :  2 trains per day until March 2019, then up to 1tph.

March 2019 is when EWR Phase 2 (Oxford – Bedford) service is currently anticipated.

I remain sceptical about train speed through Islip being reduced by proximity to OPW. There is considerable financial incentive to shave every second off journey time. (There is no requirement to reduce speed around the bends or through station.)

The above does not represent the final word. Electrification is still intended, and service level afterward remains ‘unknown’. Other operators are free to propose services which use the line  as a link within the wider network.  The capacity of the line is likely around 20tph (in each direction) with current signalling technology, and could perhaps increase further with a “moving-block” system.

Railfuture AGM

Railfuture will be holding their AGM on Saturday 18th April 10.30 at West Oxford Community Centre, Botley Road (5min walk from Oxford station).

Adrian Shooter, former MD of Chiltern Railways, and the instigator of the Evergreen 3 project will be speaking, and perhaps taking a question or two.

New stations become recognisable

Both Islip and Bicester Town (sic) stations are becoming recognisable, and it’s fun to compare the new ‘shed’ architecture with the timber and stone of old :

Both stations stood for more than a century, beginning with the Buckinghamshire railway, which terminated at Islip for two years because GWR refused access to their station in Oxford.  Eventually separate track had to be constructed into a new station at Rewley Road, right next to the GWR one. One minor problem would have been the different track gauge – Brunel sensibly built with a wider one.

There is more history of Bicester station here, and of Islip station here.

Network Rail have informed me that the original ramp leading down from Bletchingdon Road to the western platform at Islip station will definitely be reinstated, removing the need to cross via the footbridge from the eastern one. (Sadly, this will see the demise of the green verge, and its daffodils, on the northern side of the road bridge, but arguably in a good cause.)

A neighbour has kindly passed an aerial view of the works in Islip from the cockpit of his glider.

I regret that my last word is to pass on what a local resident has been told, confirmed by a workman, that the project is significantly behind schedule. Just how much behind remains unclear. The Consortium will no doubt deny this, and it also remains possible that any loss of progress can be made up now that spring is here, and conditions improve.

We can but wait and see.

Noise abatement

As construction progresses, there is growing concern about the degree of noise along the line and the limited amount of abatement included. Wolvercote residents appear to have won an improvement known as “silent track”, which makes one wonder why this is not to be used elsewhere, such as within Bicester and Islip, and neighbouring Wendlebury, where a riding school is threatened with closure because Network Rail has thus far refused a noise barrier (story here).

Many residents are going to be profoundly affected by noise, including yours truly who lives but 100m away. Remember that your back yard may be next.