7.03.2024 /

East West Rail connects Oxford and Bletchley for the first time in 50 years

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The final section of track has now been laid between Bicester and Bletchley, completing the first connection stage of East West Rail and paving the way for passenger services to start from next year.

Image of railway workers in front of track infrastructure train during construction between Bicester and Bletchley.
A total of 66km of new track has been installed with the final sections completed in March 2024.


Once up and running, the new service will provide a fast and sustainable transport option for local communities – improving connectivity, significantly reducing travel times and providing better access to jobs, healthcare and education.

This is a significant milestone for one of the country’s most important rail projects and part of this Government’s plan to invest in rail infrastructure."

– Huw Merriman, Rail Minister

The track construction programme

East West Rail Alliance (EWRA) began track construction in November 2021, following the completion of earthworks and the partial rebuild of Bletchley Flyover which enabled engineering trains to enter the site from the eastern and western fringes of the project.

EWRA has utilised its collaborative working model (organisations working together for an outcome which benefits all involved) and the expertise of the Alliance partners to successfully deliver the track laying programme. Key features of the track delivery programme have included:  

  • Utilisation of the New Track Construction train (NTC) to install around 85% of the track. A total of 58 shifts were completed with the NTC, the most productive shift seeing the team achieve nearly 1.4km of new track construction in just ten hours.
  • Delivering all track materials via the existing operating railway to avoid the need for truck movements on the local highway network, minimising disturbance to nearby residents.
  • Total track across the project = 66,353 metres
  • Sleepers / bearers delivered to site = 99,320
  • Total ballast delivered to the project = 267,266 tonnes
  • Under 75,000 tonnes of spoil was removed to install the track
  • The Long Welded Rail Train (LWRT) has delivered 427 rails totalling 216 metres in length
  • Close collaboration with Network Rail’s Supply Chain Operations (SCO) team and supply chain partners to overcome challenges such as recent industrial action, and national material shortages. Specific arrangements have been made to allow the project to deliver throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Switches and crosses (S&C) units installed across the project = 18 units
Image of train delivering materials for construction by rail on track between Bicester and Bletchley.
Track materials have been delivered via rail rather than lorries, reducing traffic and carbon emissions.

East West Rail Alliance is on track to hand over the project to Network Rail later in 2024, with remaining work this year focusing on completing the installation of railway systems equipment, testing and commissioning, the construction of Winslow station car park, completion of Winslow station and landscaping. Passenger services are due to start from 2025.



East West Rail - East Meets West