Update on new timetable after December 12th

It has been a while since I have posted an update, but now there are a number of issues that are on the immediate agenda and are still likely to be at the time of the OBRAG AGM which will be held in late January (details of time, date and structure of meeting to follow by mid-December):

A – Problems with New Timetable

  • Chiltern Railways’ planned new timetable will involve a major change in the evening peak time services since the departures from London Marylebone for trains that stop at Islip that currently exist at 1535/1750/1921/2135 will change to 1535/1650/2007/2132 (with an additional but not ideal option of catching the 1850 from London and changing trains at Oxford Parkway).  This is a further blow to Islip-London commuters on top of the already less than ideal commuter service in the mornings.
  • Thank you to those who have already contacted Chiltern in a personal capacity to complain about this significant further degradation of the commuter service from Islip to London. OBRAG is looking into coordinating with interest groups within Islip to issue a joint letter of complaint to Chiltern Railways and to our MP to raise awareness, as well as contacting the press to express our concern and disappointment. I feel that rather than angry protest we need to try to put the most rational argument we can to Chiltern as to why they should maintain a decent commuter service from Islip to London and from Islip to Oxford. I have spoken to individuals about this but I would welcome people’s thoughts on how to make the most persuasive case.
  • I am still waiting to receive a full copy of the timetable from Chiltern (not very pleasing) though I believe there are some floating around so if anyone could please email me a copy that would be great. Also, any other concerns/comments about the changes that will be made would be much appreciated.

B – Positives

  • As a regular Islip-Oxford commuter, my experiences have been pretty good lately. It has been quite a while since I missed a bus or train due to delays, although I do still have to run occasionally.
  • The broken ticket machine in Islip was an annoyance for several weeks, but this has now been repaired.

C – Longer Term Objectives

  • OBRAG has been involved in liasing with other rail user groups on the Oxford-Bicester-Bletchley-Milton Keynes-Bedford line. As well as attempting to influence the Islip and Bicester rail services in a desirable direction now that we have a very good piece of infrastructure in place locally, I think we should not lose sight of the bigger picture of the need to support and encourage where we can the completion of the East-West rail project, which will also benefit us in increasing rail connectivity from Islip and Bicester in the longer term.
  • Eventually it might be desirable to move towards some kind of federal structure of user groups along the line in order to better co-ordinate activities and avoid unnecessary duplication. I suggest this as another topic for discussion at the AGM.

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

FWD: Network Rail works summer blockade – 30 July to 14 August 2016

Forwarded message:

Network Rail works summer blockade – 30 July to 14 August 2016

This notification is for information only. These works are unconnected with East West Rail phase 1 works.

As part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan, they will be carrying out major rail improvement work between Leamington Spa, Banbury, Bicester North, Oxford and Didcot Parkway this summer and lines will be closed for up to 16 days (30 July – 14 August 2016).

During this time Network Rail will be working throughout the Oxford Corridor on a number of projects which may be disruptive to lineside neighbours. However, please be assured, that Network Rail are working hard to minimise noise as much as possible, including limiting the working shift hours, and using techniques and equipment that are quieter than the standard methods we use across the country.

Download this information as a leaflet here.


Aristotle Lane

Auger Piling may continue and minor associated works in preparation for the footbridge to demolished, and the new bridge to be lifted in.

  • 3–5 August: Auger Piling and minor associated works (7am-7pm)
  • 3–5 August: Ditch clearance (7am-7pm)

Castle Mill Stream

We continue our piling in preparation for the bridge deck reconstruction as per previous piling works. Please note Network Rail will be using a large crane to lift and install the bridge.

  • 30 July – 3 August: Auger piling (24hr working)
  • 3 – 8 August: Bridge reconstruction throughout (24hr working including track works).

Sheepwash Bridge

During the blockade we will be working on Sheepwash Bridge to upgrade the current track and install a cantilever walkway.

  • 30 July (12.01am) – 1 August (8am): Remove existing track and reinstate (24hr working)
  • 1 – 4 August: Install cantilever walkway – planned day shifts only but may require some 24hr working

Oxford Station

We will be delivering a package of works in preparation for the new Chiltern Railways Oxford to Marylebone service starting on the 12 December 2016.

  • 30 July (11pm) – 1 August (8am): Relay and tamping of the new Platform 1 & 2 track (24hr working)
  • 30 July – 7 August: Auger piling (24hr working)
  • 2 – 7 August: Installation of new platform inc brick laying (24hr working)

Botley Road Bridge

  • 1 – 5 August: Track repairs – maintenance of track fixing will involve drilling the concrete (7am-7pm)

Stone Meadow to Walton Well Bridge

  • 1 – 6 August: Track works inc welding and stressing (7am-7pm)

Sheepwash Bridge and Rewley Road area

  • 1 – 6 August: Track works inc points enhancements (7am-7pm)

Deliveries will be throughout, generally during day times with crane delivery in the early hours on the 2 August, and then being removed from site on the 8 August.

Contact Network Rail

I hope this information is helpful and we apologise for any inconvenience these essential works may cause.

However, if you have any additional questions or concerns about the work taking place in your area please call our dedicated 24-hour National Helpline on: 03457 11 41 41 or visit www.networkrail.co.uk/contactus

If you’d like regular updates during the blockade, please sign up to our newsletter by emailing Amy Harland at amy.harland@networkrail.co.uk.

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.