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East-West rail link could get slice of funding
8:00am Monday 16th July 2012 in News
THE Government is set to announce a £9 billion injection of cash into the Rail network today that could include confirmation of the reopening of the East-West link from Oxford to Milton Keynes.
Transport Secretary Justine Greening will set out details of what is being billed as the biggest programme of investment in the railways since the Victorian era.
The plan, covering the period 2014 to 2019, is also expected to extend the previously-announced plan to electrify the Great Western main line from London via Didcot to Bristol and Cardiff, as far as Swansea.
The last passenger trains between Oxford, Bicester and Bletchley, in Milton Keynes, ran in 1968. The line remained open for freight trains until the early 1990s and passenger trains were reinstated by British Rail between Oxford and Bicester Town in 1987.
After the end of freight traffic, the line between Grendon junction, east of Bicester, and Bletchley was mothballed.
Reopening the line to Milton Keynes and reconnecting it to the passenger service between Bletchley and Bedford is seen as a precursor to reinstating the former Varsity Line link all the way to Cambridge.
Another project that could be included in the Government shopping list for the rail network is the Oxford area capacity enhancement scheme, which would see a four-track railway reinstated from Radley or Kennington through Oxford to Wolvercot junction, north of the city, where the Cotswold Line to Worcester leaves the Oxford-Banbury route, along with new signals, controlled from the Thames Valley signalling centre at Didcot.
Labour's shadow transport secretary Maria Eagle said the investment would only come through after the next General Election in 2015.
She said: “It is rail investment now, not post-dated cheques, that will deliver jobs and growth.”
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