Chiltern Railways launched its £320 million service from Oxford to London yesterday, the first new rail link between the capital and a British city to open in more than a century.
The new rail link will serve brand new stations at Oxford Parkway and Bicester Village, with two services per hour to Marylebone and route times from under an hour. It offers commuters an alternative to the FirstGroup’s Great Western service, which operates the route between the London Paddington and Oxford via Reading. Chiltern expect the route to attract an additional 250,000 return commuter journeys each year.
Oxford Parkway was built on the outskirts of Oxford and designed to be attractive to motorists, making it easy to take cars off the road. Immediately adjacent to the congested A34, it is close to the A40 and A44 trunk roads and has 1,500 car parking spaces at the site.
WATCH: The new Oxford Parkway to Marylebone service comes to life.
The new station at Bicester Village was built to offer Londoners a direct 46-minute connection to its outlet mall, which attracts around 6.3 million shoppers each year.
The new route is expected to eventually become part of the proposed East West Rail link between Oxford and Cambridge.
Chiltern Railways fronted up £130 million of the £320 million total cost of the new line and stations with Network Rail contributing £190 million.
Rob Brighouse, the company’s managing director labelled the route’s launch “a historic day”.
“Our significant and unique investment will economically advantageous for the regional economy creating competition in the rail market between Oxford and London, as well as delivering the first new service between a major British city and London for over 100 years,” he said.
Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne said: “By working closely with Chiltern Railways on this part of our Railway Upgrade Plan we have been able to deliver precisely what its customers want - a much-needed new transport option for Oxford-based business and leisure travellers to London.”
“It will also help provide the capacity needed as rail travel is forecast to double over the next two decades.”