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.

More about the new stations

While we’re waiting for Chiltern to attempt the renaming of Islip and Oxford, I can at least pass on more details about the new stations.

First, toilets :  there will be one Ladies, one Gents and one ‘accessible’ at Bicester Town, and three Ladies, three Gents and one ‘accessible’ at Water Eaton.

There will be covered cycle racks also :  150 at WE, 60 at BT and 10 at Islip. BT will also have 20 lockers (for bikes I presume).

On a previous post I added the layout for BT.  Here are the layouts for Islip and WE :

Please continue to express your feelings (either way) concerning Chiltern’s intention to rename Bicester Town station, by adding comments to the earlier post.

Bicester Town bus-stop moved to Pingle Drive

As you may have discovered (probably very late, like me) the Bicester Town stop for train-replacement buses has been moved to Pingle Drive. This has been done with no consultation. On behalf of OBRAG, I have complained, citing the additional long walk imposed on former rail users and Bicester residents. I have also asked for an explanation why customers of the shopping mall known as “Bicester Village” have been given priority over residents.

Chiltern gave the following reasons why moving the stop to London Road (near the entrance to Station Road, where there are existing bus stops) is “not possible” :

  • insufficient time to stop twice (second stop at the mall)
  • “the stop on London Road is not a very nice place to wait”
  • it would be impossible to guide people to the mall via Priory Road (~10mins) as it is unlit and the longer route takes too long (~20mins).

I have replied that :

  • there is no reason why a second stop is necessary, simply to serve an independent shopping mall (though I sympathise with its customers)
  • that mall is responsible for the untimely closure of the passageway linking its property to Bicester Town station
    (there is still a gate not blocked by the car-park works, which remains locked)
  • if London Road is “not a nice place to wait” then perhaps the Town and County Councils would respond positively to the gift of a shelter there.

I have also expressed vehement opposition to the proposed renaming of Bicester Town station as “Bicester Village”, which is a shopping mall, not a place, and certainly not a village. There is strong evidence (in the survey carried out by BTAG that such opposition has popular support. There is no independent evidence that the renaming has any significant support. Prominent signing to the mall is welcome, but the station should remain named “Bicester Town” as it is the closest one to the town called Bicester.

I am still waiting to hear from Network Rail whether toilets will be provided at the new station. (IMHO, they should be mandatory.)

Comments welcome!

Renaming Bicester Town station

CR wish to rename the station “Bicester Village”, against the wishes expressed at a local meeting. They have contrived their own survey to overcome objections.

BTAG have posted an online survey in which you can express your own view.

I don’t think any private company should be allowed to rename places or public amenities, even when they’re paying to rebuild them. Anyway, it’s not a ‘village’, or anything like one; it’s a shopping mall.

The current name is appropriate and will have meaning to any traveller planning a journey :  it’s the station closest to the town of Bicester. Renaming it after a shopping mall will be misleading. There is no village called Bicester.