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Comments on EWRL Central Section – Operating Case Alan Francis, Transport Speaker, Green Party 6 Spencer St, New Bradwell, Milton Keynes, MK13 0DW 01908 316921 email@example.com We very much welcome the report and support the choice of the Southern route and option 1C. This appears to be both the most useful for passengers and have the best operating case. We do however have some observations and suggest some alterations/additions below. Luton-Stevenage It was 16 years ago that we first suggested that EWRL should use the Luton- Stevenage corridor. See Annex 1 below. That proposal was submitted to SDG in an earlier consultation but at that time they recommended the route via Bedford. The report suggests that a substantial amount of tunnelling would be required south east of Luton. We believe that by running south of Luton on the MML for about 4km very little, if any, tunnelling would be required. If the new line branches off the MML near East Hyde, continues on the east side of the B653 for about 2km roughly following the 110m contour, and then turns east at Bower Heath to run along the south side of the Kimpton valley then only a short tunnel or a deep cutting at Bower Heath would be required. Milton Keynes-Luton Our earlier proposal, described in Annex 1, included re-instating the former line between Leighton Buzzard and Luton for the section between the WCML and MML. Part of that former rail route is now proposed to be taken over by the Translink guided bus project. So we understand why the report does not consider that route. However we expect the Cambridge guided bus project to be a failure – it is already 6 months late – and if that happens before construction of Translink has started then we expect Translink to be abandoned. Thus the former line between Leighton Buzzard and Luton may become available for use by EWRL giving a more direct route and a shorter journey time. We estimate that re- instating the former line between Leighton Buzzard and Luton would cost about £120M. However there would no longer be a need for the Bletchley chord or the Stewartby chord so that would save £70M. Thus the net cost of re-instating the Leighton Buzzard - Luton line would be about £50M. However it would offer faster journeys and would carry more passengers because it would serve two extra towns, Leighton Buzzard and Dunstable. This would reduce operating costs and increase the benefits and fares revenue. Thus the overall BCR may be just as good as the option 1C route. 1 However in the meantime we support the proposal to use the Bedford- Bletchley branch and a new chord near Stewartby although it will give a less direct route and a longer journey time. The Stewartby chord should branch off the Bedford-Bletchley line immediately to the north of Millbrook station in order to minimise the journey time between Milton Keynes and Luton. Milton Keynes We believe that all EWRL trains passing through Milton Keynes should serve Milton Keynes Central station. Milton Keynes Central is, as its name suggests, the central station for Milton Keynes and serves its city centre. Milton Keynes is or soon will be the largest town on the core section of EWRL, ie Oxford-Cambridge. It is also an interchange station for long distance services on the WCML. In option1C only half the EWRL trains that serve Milton Keynes call at Milton Keynes Central, ie those that terminate/originate at it: Reading - Milton Keynes Central and Milton Keynes Central - Norwich. Thus Milton Keynes Central only has an hourly connection to each of Oxford and Cambridge. On the other hand Bletchley station, on the southern edge of Milton Keynes, has a half-hourly connection to each of Oxford and Cambridge. As well as the trains that serve Milton Keynes Central, as above, it also has the hourly Reading – Ipswich service which, combined, give a half-hourly service. Milton Keynes Central is a more important station than Bletchley and so should have as good as or a better train service than Bletchley, not a worse one. It might be thought that passengers from Milton Keynes Central could just catch a local service to Bletchley and then change onto the EWRL Reading – Ipswich service. But the local service between Milton Keynes Central and Bletchley has gaps in excess of 20 mins off-peak and in excess of 40 mins in the peaks ruling this out as an acceptable solution. There are a number of possible ways for EWRL Reading – Ipswich to also serve Milton Keynes Central. Simply diverting the Reading – Ipswich to Milton Keynes Central, reversing it there and reversing again at Bletchley requires no extra infrastructure (subject to capacity issues on the WCML for the 2 miles between Denbigh Hall South Jn and Milton Keynes Central) but would add about 10 mins to the through journey time. This could be reduced by the construction of an east to north chord at Bletchley which would remove one of the en-route reversals. Alternatively a new rail loop could be constructed to link Milton Keynes Central to the Bedford-Bletchley branch without any en-route reversals being necessary. This is described in Annex 2. That report assumed that EWRL would be via Bedford, as was proposed by the consortium several years ago, but is equally applicable to the route now proposed via the Stewartby chord and Luton. If the rail loop were constructed it would be possible to join together the two services proposed to terminate at Milton Keynes Central, 2 Reading - Milton Keynes Central and Milton Keynes Central – Norwich, to form a through Reading - Norwich service. Both the Reading - Norwich service and the Reading – Ipswich service would call at Milton Keynes Central. This could be taken forward as a separate project or a second phase rather than as part of the basic EWRL. Milton Keynes Central is both a major origin and destination on EWRL and a major interchange station for services to the Midlands and the North. It is essential that all EWRL trains serve it. Bedford-Bletchley That service should be retained as an hourly service and it should be extended to Milton Keynes Central. This could be done by providing a reversing facility at Bletchley, either at the existing station or at the new high level platforms for EWRL. Alternatively the Milton Keynes Rail Loop could be used, as described in Annex 2. Stansted Airport While we agree that the eastern destinations for EWRL should be Cambridge and Ipswich/Norwich a link to Stansted Airport would be useful. We suggest that this could be provided by a service between Stevenage and Stansted Airport. There would be interchange with EWRL at Stevenage. This could be taken forward as a separate project or a second phase rather than as part of the basic EWRL. The route could be Stevenage, Hertford N (reverse), Hertford East, Broxbourne (reverse), Bishops Stortford, Stansted Airport. The two en-route reversals, while adding a couple of minutes each to the journey time, avoid the need for new chords at Hertford (east to north) and Rye House and so considerably reduce the infrastructure cost. Serving Hertford North and Broxbourne stations would also provide far more connections with other services. If this service was hourly it would also provide a second service each hour between Stevenage and Hertford North. Thus we recommend the en-route reversals at Hertford N and Broxbourne are preferable to bypassing them with new chords. The only new infrastructure definitely required would be the re-instatement of the former east to south chord between Hertford East and Hertford North stations. An extra platform or two at Stevenage, an extra track or two between Stevenage station and Langley Jn (1.5km) and an extra track or two between Broxbourne station and Broxbourne Jn (1.5km) might be needed if there is not sufficient capacity on the respective lines. Instead of reversing at Stevenage the trains could continue to Letchworth, taking advantage of the proposed Hitchin flyover, and turn back at Letchworth. AF 1.4.09 3 Annex 1 NORTH THAMES GREEN PARTY NEWS RELEASE 20.9.93 New Rail Service to link Milton Keynes, Luton and Stevenage Proposed / Annual Conference Success Alan Francis, Green Party Prospective European Parliamentary Candidate for Bedfordshire South, has today launched a proposal for a rail link between the three major towns in the Bedfordshire South constituency, Milton Keynes, Luton and Stevenage (see attached proposal). He returned home yesterday after chairing the key debate at the Green Party’s Annual Conference in Hastings. The rail proposal involves re-opening the former Leighton Buzzard to Luton line and constructing a new line from Luton to Stevenage. It would cost about £100 million. Mr Francis said, “We have good North - South rail services in this area but almost non-existent East - West services. This proposal would link together the three major towns in our area and be part of a new service to link the old university towns of Oxford and Cambridge. It would bring enormous benefits to local residents for both local and long distance travel. It would vastly improve journey times by public transport . ” “The government has made BR spend more than £200 million on preparations for privatisation. This is a terrible waste of public money. That money would have more than paid for the service that we are proposing here. We would much rather BR was allowed to spend its money on providing better rail services than wasting it on pointless administrative changes which will lead to the destruction of our rail network.” Mr Francis attended the Green Party’s annual conference in Hastings over the weekend. He chaired the key debate on the future strategy for the party. Mr Francis said, “It was a difficult session because there were dozens of amendments proposed. Afterwards many people congratulated me on managing to deal with all of the issues and bring the debate to a successful conclusion within the time available.” The conference also approved a common policy statement for all of the European Green Parties, new policy on Disability and the abolition of hereditary peerages. Mr Francis also found time to perform in the Conference Revue on Saturday night. ...ends Note: The Beds South constituency includes Milton Keynes, Leighton Buzzard, Luton, Dunstable, Hemel Hempstead, Tring, Hitchin, Royston and Stevenage. Contact: Alan Francis (0908) 316921 (home/office) 6 Spencer St, New Bradwell, Milton Keynes, Bucks, MK13 0DW 4 GREEN PARTY Proposal for a Passenger Rail Service between Oxford and Cambridge via Milton Keynes, Luton and Stevenage The Green Party proposes that the old railway line between Leighton Buzzard and Luton should be re-opened for passenger services and a new line built to link Luton and Stevenage. This would allow services to be run between most of the principle towns of the Bedfordshire South Euro constituency, Milton Keynes, Leighton Buzzard, Dunstable, Luton and Stevenage. The service could be extended Westward to Oxford and Eastward to Cambridge via Hitchin, Letchworth and Royston on existing tracks. Thus a rail service between the old university towns, lost in the Beeching cuts of the sixties, could be reinstated. Benefits Such a service would bring enormous benefits to local residents for both local and long distance travel. It would vastly improve journey times by public transport between the towns. For example, the journey time from Milton Keynes to Luton would be reduced from over an hour to just half an hour and the journey time from Luton to Stevenage would be reduced from its current 40-55 minutes to about 15 minutes. Luton to Cambridge would take about an hour and Luton to Oxford about an hour and a quarter. Traffic congestion and parking problems in towns would be reduced as more people would be able to travel by train. Dunstable would once again have a rail service, relieving pressure on the roads between Dunstable and Luton. Travellers from the Milton Keynes and North Herts areas would be able to get to Luton Airport much more easily by using the train and the coach from Luton station. As well as providing a fast link between the towns the line would provide a connecting service for long distance InterCity trains. It would link with services on the West Coast Mainline (from Euston) at Milton Keynes Central, the Midland Mainline (from St Pancras) at Luton (or the proposed new Luton Interchange station) and the East Coast Mainline (from Kings Cross) at Stevenage. For example, it would allow people living near the Milton Keynes or Luton to get to Stevenage to catch InterCity trains to the North East and Edinburgh. Presently this cannot be done without going via London, a long, expensive and time consuming detour. Similarly, people in the Luton and Stevenage areas could get to Milton Keynes to catch InterCity trains for the Midlands and the North West. 5 The line could also be used for freight services. There could be sidings for the sand pits near Leighton Buzzard and for industries in the Luton/Dunstable area. This would reduce the number of heavy lorries using local roads. 6 Costs Between Leighton Buzzard and Luton the track is still in place along about half of the 12 mile route. The route of the old line could be used except for one short section near Leighton Buzzard station where a dozen houses have been built on it. However the junction can be moved half a mile to the South. The track between Dunstable and Luton is still in place. At Luton the track would join the BedPan line at a new junction just North of Luton station or near to the proposed new Luton Interchange station. To link Luton and Stevenage a new junction from the BedPan line is proposed between Luton and Harpenden, near East Hyde. The line would pass near Kimpton and Codicote before joining the East Coast mainline at a new junction between Knebworth station and the existing junction for Hertford North. This new section of track would be about 9 miles in length. Re-instating the old line and constructing the new sections is estimated to cost in the region of £100 million. This is about one quarter of the cost of the proposed widening of just 30 miles of the M1 between Northampton and Luton. It would not involve the demolition of any houses, unlike the propsed M1 widening. Roads The Department of Transport is trying to develop, by stealth, a new Outer Orbital East-West road in this area. It is proposed to go from the M40 near Oxford to Stevenage and on to the East Coast. The road is being presented as a series of by- pass proposals in the hope that no-one will notice the Department’s overall plan. By- passes for Aylesbury, Wing, Leighton Buzzard (already built), Dunstable/Luton and Stevenage, following the general line of the A418 and A505 roads, form part of this plan. The rail service proposed here follows a similar route. The Green Party believes that the rail service would be cheaper and more environment-friendly. If the rail service were re-instated it would also decrease traffic on parts of the M1 and would reduce the pressure to widen it. By attracting long-distance as well as local travellers it would also help to reduce traffic on the whole road network. The Green Party would invest in rail services such as this rather than building more roads. Railways are accessible to everyone, not just those who own cars. They are also more energy efficient, take up less space, create less pollution and are safer than roads. Note: South Bedfordshire Green Party has proposed that the line from Dunstable to Luton should be used for a Light Rail or tram system and that this should be extended to Luton Airport. It is believed that the two proposals are compatible. The line between Dunstable and Luton could be used for both services. 7 Alan Francis 20.9.93 Green Party Prospective European Parliament Candidate for Bedfordshire South 6 Spencer St, New Bradwell, Milton Keynes, MK13 0DW Tel: (0908) 316921 Annex 2 Milton Keynes Rail Loop Problems * As currently proposed the East West Rail Link trains between Oxford and Bedford will not serve Milton Keynes Central station. They will only be able to serve Bletchley station, with new platforms on the flyover. This will require a change at Bletchley to reach Milton Keynes Central for interchange to InterCity services and access to Central Milton Keynes. This can involve waiting up to 25 minutes for a journey that takes 3 minutes. If EWRL trains were to serve MK central they would require two en-route reversals, adding to journey time. * Bedford – Bletchley trains do not serve Milton Keynes Central. As above, a change is needed to reach Milton Keynes Central. * Euston - Milton Keynes Central all stations trains terminate at Milton Keynes Central. They occupy the bay platform for 25 minutes out of every 30 minutes. This is an inefficient use of rolling stock and platform capacity. * There is no rail station on the east side of Milton Keynes city. * A major new industrial area, Nova MK, is planned for the east flank. This is the only large footprint site left in Milton Keynes. It should have rail access to industrial units and a rail freight terminal. Solution A new line which creates a rail loop around Milton Keynes and overcomes all of these problems. Route Milton Keynes Central to Milton Keynes East (near J14/Coachway) to Bedford- Bletchley branch near Woburn Sands. With the existing WCML and Bedford – Bletchley branch this makes the Milton Keynes Rail Loop. Services East West Rail trains would run Oxford, Bicester, Winslow, (Newton Longville), Bletchley, Milton Keynes Central, Milton Keynes East, Woburn Sands, Bedford, Sandy, Cambridge. Euston - Milton Keynes Central all stations trains would run clockwise round the loop instead of terminating at Milton Keynes Central. Euston ….. Bletchley, Milton Keynes Central, New Bradwell, Gt Linford, Blakelands (for Newport Pagnell), Milton Keynes East, Milton Keynes South East (for new SE expansion area), Woburn Sands, Bow Brickhill, Fenny Stratford, Bletchley …. Euston. 8 Bedford – Bletchley trains would run anti-clockwise round the loop. Bedford …. Aspley Guise, (Woburn Sands), Milton Keynes South East, Milton Keynes East, Blakelands, Gt Linford, New Bradwell, Milton Keynes Central, Bletchley (reverse), Fenny Stratford, Bow Brickhill, Woburn Sands, Aspley Guise …. Bedford. Cost Estimate £50-100m Benefits * East West trains would serve Milton Keynes Central, with interchange to InterCity services and access to Central Milton Keynes, and Milton Keynes East, with interchange with motorway coaches and access to the east of Milton Keynes. * Stations on Bedford – Bletchley line east of and including Woburn Sands would have direct service to/from Milton Keynes Central. * Fenny Stratford, and Bow Brickhill stations would have direct service to and from London and direct service from Milton Keynes Central but not to it. Service to Milton Keynes Central would involve change at Bletchley, as now, or at Woburn Sands. * More frequent services at Fenny Stratford, Bow Brickhill and Woburn Sands * New Milton Keynes East and Milton Keynes South East stations would have direct service to and from Milton Keynes Central and all stations to London and Bedford. * Milton Keynes Central station would have direct services to and from all stations to Oxford and Bedford (except from Fenny Stratford, and Bow Brickhill stations) and Milton Keynes East and Milton Keynes South East as well as those stations on the WCML currently served. * Bletchley would have direct services to and from all stations to Oxford and Bedford and Milton Keynes East and Milton Keynes South East as well as those stations on the WCML currently served. *The proposed Park & Ride site station at Ridgmont near M1 J13 would have direct services to and from Milton Keynes Central station. * The new line would be adjacent to the major new industrial area, Nova MK, which is planned for the east flank. It should have rail access to industrial units and a rail freight terminal. A rail freight terminal requires land about 800m by 200m. This could be alongside the M1 between Salford Rd bridge and Fox Covert and adjacent to Nova MK. Road access would be via Nova MK. Infrastructure The northern section from Milton Keynes Central to Milton Keynes East could be provided by re-using part of the former Newport Pagnell branch and then running alongside the M1 or by a tunnel under Portway (H5). The section from Milton Keynes East to Bedford-Bletchley branch would run alongside the M1 and then turn south near the A421 to join the Bedford-Bletchley branch near Woburn Sands or Aspley Guise. The triangle junction just south of Wolverton would be re-instated. The former Newport Pagnell branch line, now the Railway Walk, would be re-instated as a rail line as far as Blakelands. This would require a new bridge over V6, alterations 9 to a handful of road overbridges and two new bridges or level crossings. A new route for cyclists and pedestrians would need to be provided to replace the Railway Walk. After passing under V10 it would turn south east to run along the west side of the M1 to J14. This would require the demolition of some industrial units at Blakelands. Alternatively, a new branch to east immediately north of Milton Keynes Central station. This would enter into tunnel near the Hockey Stadium. Tunnel would run for about 3km roughly under Portway (H5). Tunnel ends near hotel at bottom of Campbell Park. New track runs alongside Portway to near M1 J14 to new Milton Keynes East station. The new track continues south east running alongside the M1 as far as Fox Covert near the proposed Nova MK warehouses. It would then turn south crossing the A421 and running across the proposed south east growth area to join the Bedford-Bletchley branch near Woburn Sands or Aspley Guise. There could be new stations at: - New Bradwell (to serve New Bradwell, Bradville, Bancroft and Bluebridge), - Great Linford near Black Horse PH (to serve Great Linford, Stantonbury and Stantonbury Park), - Blakelands (to serve Blakelands, Giffard Park, Newport Pagnell and Northern Expansion Area) and - Milton Keynes East (to serve Coachway, Broughton/Atterbury, Eastern Expansion Area and Northfield. Coachway and P&R could be rebuilt adjacent to station.) - Milton Keynes South East (to serve the proposed south east growth area.) It would join the Bedford – Bletchley branch line near Woburn Sands. This could be to the east or west of Woburn Sands or both. There needs to be access to the loop line for both east and west bound trains so both east facing and west facing chords are required. To provide the best service for Woburn Sands the east facing chord would be to the west of Woburn Sands and the west facing chord would be to the east of Woburn Sands. The two chords would join to the north of Woburn Sands in the vicinity of Wavendon House. The level crossing at Woburn Sands would need to be replaced with a bridge. Alternatively the west facing chord could be to the east of Woburn Sands and the east facing chord would be to the west of Aspley Guise. The two chords would join somewhere near the Motor works on Cranfield Rd. There would be a branch for freight trains into the Nova MK industrial area which should include a rail freight terminal and rail access to factories/warehouses. The new line would be about 15 kms (9 miles) in length. The new line and the Bletchley – Woburn Sands section of the Bedford – Bletchley branch would be electrified. 10 Planning The project could be undertaken by Milton Keynes Partnership which has planning responsibility for MK expansion areas. Most of the land required is part of the Eastern Expansion Area or the proposed south east growth area. The planning powers of Milton Keynes Council and English Partnerships may be sufficient, but a Transport & Works Act application may be necessary. 11 BIRMINGHAM NEW GREAT WOLVERT BRADWELL LINFORD ON BLAKELANDS (NEWPORT PAGNELL) MILTON MILTON KEYNES KEYNES EAST CENTRAL NOVA MK FREIGH T MILTON BOW KEYNES SOUTH BRICKHILL EAST BLETCHLE OXFOR Y BEDFORD D NEWTON FENNY WOBURN ASPLEY RIDGMON LONGVILLE STRATFOR SANDS GUISE T D LONDO N Alan Francis, Green Party Transport Speaker 29.10.03 10.6.06 D2 25.8.06 D3 12
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