OBRAG AGM 2015 (Summary)

OBRAG 2015 AGM was held in the Terrace Room, Islip Village Hall, on Tuesday 20th January 2015.

In attendance : 19, including the Chairman of the CR Passenger Board

 1 Chairman’s report

Summarised the grand success of achieving a timetable proposal which provides a useful service at Islip.  Highlighted remaining problems :

  • prior to opening :
  • lack of parking at both Islip and Bicester
  • lack of any shelter at Bicester Town
  • lack of adequate information concerning either new station
  • inadequate return service from Oxford after a 5.30pm finish at work.

All these have been brought to the attention of CR.

2 Nomination/election of officers and approval of accounts

No new committee members were proposed.  The current Chairman (Ian East) and Secretary (Henrietta Leyser) agreed to remain for another year.  Jon Spinage and Linda O’Dell will stand down.  They are thanked for their work over the years.

An attendee – Margie Salussolia – inspected the OBRAG account and approved.

3 Future representation on the CRPB

A call was made for a volunteer to act as committee member representing Islip and Bicester Town stations on the CR Passenger Board.  One person is considering this position but was unable to attend the meeting due to a work commitment.

It was proposed that the interests of all travel from/to these stations should be represented, but not those via either Oxford station.  However, the latter would currently remain open to any candidate.

4 Announcement

Following a request by FGW, it was announced that the main line between Didcot and Hayes will close for engineering works at Easter, from 3rd to 12th April.

 5 Open discussion

An Islip resident reported that they had been informed by someone from the Project that work has fallen ten weeks behind because of an error laying drainage.

Concern was expressed about the following :

  •  vibration from passing freight trains (in particular)
  • the loss of foliage and habitat along the route
  • the nature of the barrier alongside the path beside Islip school
  • delay imposed by changing at Water Eaton, after opening of service north
  • when service would resume into Oxford Central.

The chairman pointed out that all matters concerning the impact of works on Islip are the proper concern of Islip Parish Council, and that neither OBRAG nor CR could effect much regarding the last two.  CR are not obliged to continue bus service once rail service resumes, nor can they justify the expense it would incur.  Delays in reopening service south of Water Eaton are in the hands of NR and their contractors.


The OBRAG AGM will be held in the Terrace Room, Islip Village Hall, between 18.30 and 19.30 on Tuesday the 20th January.  All members, users and prospective users of the bus replacement service and new rail service are welcome.

The agendas currently as follows :

  1. Chairman’s report
  2. Nomination/election of officers
  3. Recruitment of a representative member of the Chiltern Railways Passenger Board (CRPB)
  4. Open discussion of the proposed new service at Islip and Bicester Town and whether OBRAG should represent usage beyond (e.g. London commuting and/or Oxford Parkway).

Both I (Chairman) and Henrietta Leyser (Secretary) are prepared to stay on another year, if approved.  The other two committee members (Linda O’Dell and Jon Spinage) would prefer to step down but are prepared to stay on, in the absence of other volunteers.

We need someone to volunteer as a replacement for me on the CRPB, which meets four times each year at Marylebone or Birmingham station on a Friday afternoon. I remain unable to attend those meetings. Fortunately, the CRPB chairman, John Elvin, has been willing to represent us, but it would clearly be better if we had our own presence, especially with the new extended service.

Someone obviously needs to represent the new Oxford Parkway station and London service as well, though OBRAG remains concerned primarily with Islip and Bicester Town stations and local service.  CRPB may well want the same person to represent all four stations on our branch.

I hereby propose that the role OBRAG plays should 1) extend to the support of all travellers to/from Islip and Bicester Town, and not just local service, but 2) not extend to coverage of either of the Oxford stations. I believe it should evolve around the current website to support the role of the CRPB member concerned, in those respects, as well as our members.

Revised timetable from Chiltern

Chiltern have proposed a revised timetable (attached). One of the changes affect Bicester; the rest concern just Islip.  All in all, I believe it answers our aspirations as well as could  have been expected, but please post a reply below if you believe we might do better.

The promise made to provide an eighth train (each way) is to be honoured.

The item that concerns both stations is the inclusion of a commuter train that serves a 5.30pm finish in Oxford (just).

To summarise the weekday service, stopping at both Islip and Bicester Town :

Arriving Oxford (6mins later than Water Eaton)

  • 07.26 early start in Oxford; 8.30am start beyond
  • 08.26 9am start in Oxford
  • 09.15 first off peak service
  • 13.13 2pm start in Oxford
  • 16.41 15.30 finish in High Wycombe (schools)
  • 19.01 5.30/6pm finish in HW/London; evening start in Oxf
  • 20.24 6.30/7pm finish in London
  • 22.41 late return from London

Departing Oxford (6mins earlier than Water Eaton)

  • 07.44 : 9am start in HWY; 9.30 start in London
  • 09.11 : first off peak service
  • 13.41 : 1pm finish in Oxford
  • 16.39 : 4pm finish (schools, shopping)
  • 17.40 : 5.30pm finish in Oxford
  • 19.20 : late finish in Oxford; return via Oxford; for evening out
  • 21.48 : late return from Oxford
  • 23.13 : very late return from Oxford

Remaining problems at Islip :

  1. Nothing for 8.30 start in London (07.50 dep not early enough). CR suggest connecting with fast 07.25 dep at WE, adding 13mins, arriving 08.23.
  2. No late return from London, serving entertainment. CR suggest the 22.05 from London, changing onto 23.13 from Oxford at WE.
  3. 4hr gaps exist, both ways, from ~9.15am.
  4. The 17.40 is a little early, not allowing enough time to reach station after a 5.30pm finish. (This may be a problem for Bicester folk also.)

CR revised timetable 01-12-2014

Meeting with Chiltern Railways on 30th October 2014

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?

Islip railway meeting – notes

Here is my own summary of what was said at the meeting at Islip Village Hall on Tuesday 21st of October.  I cannot be sure I’ve included everything, and in any case seek only a summary.  If you feel something is missing then please add a reply below.

I shall raise the issues which arose with Chiltern at a meeting with their Business Development Manager next week (30th), and will post a summary of that afterwards.

Village Railway Meeting – notes

Islip Village Hall, Tuesday, 21st October, 7.30 to 9pm
Hosted by Ian East, chairman of the Oxford-Bicester Rail Action Group (OBRAG).
Approx. 40 in attendance.

Ian introduced himself and OBRAG, and summarised the history and current situation, including planned opening dates, the timetable at Islip proposed by Chiltern, the rôle of the CRPB and the current consultation, which ends on 7th November, together with the current OBRAG response.

The latter is intended to prioritise service at Islip according to function :
1 commuting to/from Oxford (and points south)
2 shopping and entertainment in Oxford and Bicester
3 commuting to/from High Wycombe and London
4 all other purposes in Wycombe and London.

Request for support
Ian requested, and was given, the support of the assembly for the demand that Chiltern :
– honour their public offer of eight tpd
– offer a timetable at Islip which is actually useful, unlike their current proposal.

Contributions from the floor

Timetable and service level

1 Agreed that the current timetable is useless and that Oxford access the primary concern.
RF delegate promised to raise this with OCC at forthcoming meeting.

2 Agreed that Chiltern should be held to their promise of eight trains per day (tpd; each way).

3 Strong support was given, by a number of residents, for an effective London service.
Agreed (~7 attendees) that an early morning departure essential.
06.48 dep from OXP the preferred option.
RF delegate suggested that the best chance lies in requesting one London train each way, in this regard.

4 One attendee argued that the gap in the service proposed by OBRAG between 07.19 and 13.42 far too great.
Noted that this concern lies in conflict with that of 3.
Noted that resolution possible by replacing late return from Oxford with mid-morning service. (No concern was expressed at the loss of a late Oxford return.)
Noted that an associated concern is for discounted (later) travel to London (using discount cards).

5 Someone suggested ignoring CR proposal and campaigning for approximate reinstatement of previous timetable (11tpd).
Ian pointed out that CR have many pressing concerns to meet and were unlikely to respond to that. 4tpd were funded via planning gain, which may be exhausted. (Ian is endeavouring to ascertain the truth.) CR are unlikely to completely rework their proposed timetable to suit Islip, even though we’ve been robbed.

6 Concern was expressed that a departure for Oxford be included that is early enough to support commuting beyond Oxford (Swindon, Reading etc.)

Concerns other than timetable

7 Two attendees expressed concern that Islip may face significant additional nuisance parking as a result of good service at Islip Station, especially a London service.
Ian responded that 1) the greater population nearby is actually nearer Water Eaton, where 2) a far better service can be found, and 3) parking is expected to be no dearer. He added that it cannot make sense, after such investment, to deliberately plan poor service to this end. Both traffic and parking in Islip are already problems for other reasons, and constitute a concern which can be addressed by local authorities.
It was clear that a significantly greater number of attendees desired a good service (including London).

8 Some attendees, who lived near the station, were appalled at the total lack of consultation and information regarding the construction there.
There is no relevant information on the www.bicestertooxfordcollaboration.com site, not even a picture of the new station building.
Many trees have been felled, exposing a number of properties, without due warning.