Update on impact of summer blockade on services

Please find below some further information about the impact of the rail works over the next few weeks on services through Bicester and Oxford Parkway.

The document below details a few minor changes to times of services from Oxford Parkway. The only major change is that the 7:14 from Oxford Parkway will not be running from 1st-5th August 2016.

Islip SX Blackade week 1 August 2016

There is also a 9 day closure on the line between Leamington Spa and Bicester North from 30 July until 7 August 2016.   For more information, please visit www.chilternrailways.co.uk/banbury-upgrade

OBRAG Update from Chairman

This is a message from the new Chairman (Richard Povey, email: rpoveyuk@gmail.com) I shall be assisted by Scot Peterson (who will be doing any actual chairing of meetings), but I will be taking care of the OBRAG website from now on.

Thank you very much to Ian East and Henrietta Leyser, our predecessors, who have been OBRAG stalwarts over many years and pivotal to all of us having a continuing train service in Islip.

For now, I wanted to provide a summary of where we are with the Islip-London train and Islip-Oxford train-bus service. I would welcome comments (either on the blog or by email) if people disagree with my assessment or can think of further problems/information to add.

First, the positives, and many thanks to Hattie Bayly for representing us on the Passenger Board and to Chiltern Railways for sorting/clarifying these issues:

  1. The opening of the remainder of the line to Oxford is as I understand it promised for the 12th December and there is no reason to expect any further delay.
  2. All buses from Oxford now stopping outside the Oxford Parkway station is a huge improvement in reducing the amount of walking (and sometimes running – see next point) needed. As a point of information, from approximately 19:30 (and all day on Sundays) the buses pick up and drop off only at the front of the station. Before 19:30 Mondays to Saturdays, passengers should still embark for the bus journey to Oxford at the Park and Ride Terminal. (Being able to embark with return train tickets to Islip from Magdalen Street in Oxford instead of the railway station has also been a welcome improvement.)
  3. Now that the road works have been completed around the Oxford railway station (and the bus stopping directly outside Oxford Parkway station), the issue of missing trains from Parkway to Islip due to delayed buses from the centre of Oxford has been a lot less of a problem. As a regular user, I do however still occasionally find I miss trains due to delayed departures of buses from Oxford city centre. Chiltern Railways have been quite good about providing replacement taxi services from Parkway to Islip if I miss a service, although it has sometimes seemed as if there is not a clear policy to do this and it is at the whim of whoever is in charge (But they have always provided such a service for me when I have asked.) I would welcome other people’s thoughts and experiences about the taxi replacement policy when the timetable goes wrong.
  4. The ticket machines at Islip did appear to be a lot more reliable then a few months ago, and to usually dispense tickets correctly – at least until the recent building work at the Islip station put them offline. Hopefully this will be completed on time by 12th June.
  5. The spacing of services from Islip to Oxford seems currently quite satisfactory. (I would welcome people’s thoughts on this statement, however.)

Now for the remaining negatives that need to be addressed:

  1. Commuters to London continue to find it highly unsatisfactory that they have been forced to take the 7:14 from Islip to Parkway and then catch the 7:24 in order to get to London by 8:20.  This has caused problems with delays causing them to miss the 7:24 connection and is in any case inefficient. It will become more so under the new timetable where they will now be required to catch the 7:03 from Islip, thus essentially extending the journey time to London by 50%. This seems crazy (at least, from an Islip perspective). It would be far preferable to have the 7:24 leave a few minutes earlier from Parkway so as to stop in Islip. Chiltern however say that for commercial reasons they are unable to allow additional stops on the flagship morning service from Parkway to Marylebone. I would be interested to hear feedback about the experiences of Islip-London commuters in particular as regards the reliability of the Parkway connection, how often they have been late for work due to delays and how adequate Chiltern’s compensation policies have been.
  2. We are aware of issues with the ticket machines at Parkway incorrectly charging users of the off-peak 8:50 service from Parkway to Bicester at peak fares. Not all staff at the station appear to be aware that this is an off-peak service. Chiltern say that this it is difficult to make the ticket machines operate correctly, but in that case maybe some kind of paper notice might be possible explaining how to buy an off-peak ticket so that customers are not over-charged. In any case, please be aware of this.
  3. Bicester to Oxford commuters are frustrated that there is no bus connection for the new 07:10 arrival at Oxford Parkway until 07:26 which is the same as getting the 07:22 arrival. There is thus no incentive for Bicester commuters to get the new 06:55 departure over the 07:08 departure as they have to wait and use the same bus service to Oxford City.

As I say, comments, additional information and suggestions are most welcome.

OBRAG AGM – 19th January

The 2016 AGM of the Oxford-Bicester Rail Action Group (OBRAG) will be held :

Islip Village Hall, Terrace Room (around the back)
19.00-20.00, Tuesday 19th January 2016

The timing allows rail travel from/to Oxford (18.03, 20.17)and Bicester (18.41, 20.11).

Your chairman is stepping down, after thirteen years.  Nominations for my successor may be made in advance via email (chairman@obrag.org.uk) or at the meeting and will be subject to election there, along with the remainder of the committee. If there are no volunteers to take on this role, OBRAG will discontinue.

Patrick O’Sullivan from the East-West Rail Consortium has agreed to come and update us on the progress of and prospects for EWR.

We hope to have someone from Chiltern present, to respond to questions regarding the ‘bustitution’.

All welcome!

Bus replacement service in Oxford (500)

Some people had communicated the refusal of some drivers to allow rail passengers to board the 500 in the city centre.  The Oxford Bus Company had also told one person in writing that boarding with a rail ticket was allowed only at a rail station.

The Chiltern Head of Train Planning has just confirmed that OBC will now allow people with rail tickets to board (or alight from) the bus in Oxford City Centre.  This follows a meeting between CR and OBC.

Let’s hope that OBC is telling drivers the same story!

Chiltern responses to early feedback

There follows two documents :

In particular, OBRAG objects strongly to the removal of the 09.02 service to Oxford from Islip and does not accept the justification given for not reinstating it – that the train is too long. It was not too long before. In any case, this is an operational difficulty unloaded onto customers.

The uncertainty over platform until minutes before a train arrives is totally unacceptable as it forces passengers to cross the platform bridge, and quickly, without aid of a lift.

The replacement bus should stop outside the station, and not at the P&R stop.  Also, services have NOT been as well timed to train arrival as was promised, adding delay.

Regarding better London service from Islip: the OBRAG position is that OPY is a reasonable option for more London trains, but NOT for local commuting to Oxford or Bicester, which should therefore take priority at Islip.