An Oxfordshire renaissance

Chiltern Railways is now running services through to the main Oxford station, competing with Great Western Railway for commuters to London. Robin Whitlock describes how the project was realised.

CHILTERN Railways announced Project Evergreen 3 in August 2008, with the aim of running a regular passenger service from Oxford to London Marylebone via Bicester.

With driver route training completed, Chiltern Railway’s Marylebone-Oxford Parkway service began running on October 25, 2015. ‘Clubman’ Class 168 DMU No.168001 had the honour of being the first public service departure to London from Islip’s rebuilt station, the 09.04 Oxford Parkway-Bicester Village-Marylebone. Aubrey Evans

The new route would be built by Chiltern in partnership with Network Rail to expand capacity in Oxfordshire and enable passengers from north and east Oxford, Kidlington, Yarnton, Woodstock and Witney to avoid the densely crowded city centre. It would also form part of the East-West Rail Programme, the ultimate aim of which is to link Oxford with Milton Keynes and Bedford, and allow for a possible return of services through to Cambridge following much of the route of the former LNWR ‘Varsity Line’.

Evergreen 3 would also provide the first link between Oxford and High Wycombe since the closure of the line from Princes Risborough to Oxford via Thame in 1963. A new station would be built at Water Eaton, adjacent to the Oxford Parkway park-and-ride, and stations at Islip and Bicester Town would be upgraded. A new chord just east of Bicester Town would also be needed to provide a connection to the Chiltern Main Line from Marylebone to Birmingham Moor Street.

Read more in the March issue of RE – out now!

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