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Support for the East West Rail

November 12, 2009 9:14 PM

23 Oct 2009

Transport secretary Lord Adonis has voiced support for the East West Rail Consortium's plans to establish a new railway between Oxford/Aylesbury/Milton Keynes and Bedford - an issue on which local Lib Dems have campaigned for the past 15 years.

Consortium members met Adonis last month to discuss the plans and the meeting was this week described as "extremely positive" by South East Partnership Board regional planner James Renwick. Renwick said Adonis accepted that the railway had a wider strategic benefit beyond better local connections.

However work is still not expected to start until 2013 or 2014.

Comenting on this Bucks Lib Dems press officer Gareth Davies commented - "This is progress, but things are still moving at a snail's pace. If this was France or Germany, the line wouldf have been finished years ago."

Meanwhile ground is being tested on the western section of the line to check if it's suitable for trains to travel over on a regular basis.

The work includes digging trial trenches along the route and making a number of boreholes, which will help engineers decide what work needs to be done to the ground before the new track's built.

Patrick O'Sullivan - East West Rail Project Manager - told Heart, the Milton Keynes radio station:

"That railway has been disused for over forty years - so the ground situation will have deteriorated. We need to determine what is the condition of that ground which will then allow us to complete our ground work for the track infrastructure and all the other railway infrastructure that's involved."

The site investigation's expected to last until the end of the year, and while it is going on a business case is being completed.

The East West Rail Consortium still needs to get regional and national funding in order for the project to go ahead. It also needs planning permission for some parts of the scheme.

"We don't think we'll be able to start work now until possibly 2013 or 2014, which is a little disappointing because we'd always wanted to start work earlier. But being realistic, in the current climate, that is probably now an early start in terms of our programme," he told Heart.