The new Oxford Parkway station near Kidlington has just opened, with trains arriving from London Marylebone in just under an hour.
Above: The first train at Oxford Parkway arriving from London Marylebone after just 56 minutes
by Richard Lofthouse
by Richard Lofthouse
Chiltern Railways, part of German giant Deutsche Bahn, has started a service between Oxford Parkway and London Marylebone, delivering the first new service between a major British city and London for over a century.
The first train left Marylebone at 06.09 on the 26th October, arriving at Oxford Parkway five minutes behind the scheduled time of 07.19. Its counterpart left Oxford Parkway station at 07.24, arriving in London at 08.20. Free coffee was handed out to passengers at Oxford Parkway station.
Above: The new service will see two fast trains per hour throughout the day between Oxford Parkway and London
The service will offer two trains an hour in each direction, mostly re-conditioned cross-country-style trains offering free, but limited, wi-fi. On the key commuter service that leaves Oxford at 07.24, a larger train will be put on offering a buffet car and a first class-equivalent service called ‘Business Zone’.
Oxford Parkway is a brand new station situated next to Kidlington Park and Ride, lying just just to the north of the city. Chiltern Railways Commercial Director Thomas Ableman (Merton, 1999) noted that the final section of new track connecting Oxford Parkway to Oxford remains on schedule to open in the spring of 2016. When the full service is operational it will take 66 minutes from Oxford to Marylebone, with most trains stopping only once, at Bicester Village, the popular shopping outlet.
Above: Thomas Ableman (Merton, 1999) Commercial Director Chiltern Railways
The new service uses existing line, plus approximately 10 miles of newly laid track beginning just north of Bicester. The project has so far cost £320 million, with Network Rail doing the work and contributing £190 million. Chiltern Railways invested the remaining £130 million and will repay Network Rail within a service agreement spread out over thirty years.
Until now, passengers have had no choice but to travel on First Great Western trains from Oxford to Paddington. A spokesman for First Great Western, James Davis, told Oxford Today that the main obstacle faced by Chiltern is that Oxford Parkway “lies a long way outside Oxford.”
Chiltern Railways Business Development Director Graham Cross (Oriel, 1993) noted that not only will the final section to Oxford be completed next year, but that Marylebone is “closer to Central London than Paddington.” He remains confident that Chiltern will extend the service beyond Oxford, taking passengers through East Oxford to Cowley and Oxford Science Park, utilising track currently used solely for the BMW factory.
Above: Chiltern Railways Business Development Director Graham Cross (Oriel, 1993)
University DPhil student Stephen Daley (Lincoln, 2013), who travelled on the first official train of the new service from Marylebone, noted that the fare structure for both FGW and Chiltern was virtually identical, but that with a student rail car you could get a peak time day return for £24 with Chiltern, versus a fare of £20 one-way with FGW, making it better value on the new service for students travelling at peak times.
The other new station on the line is at Islip. Residents of Bicester will mostly rejoice at the new line because it is expected to relieve the roads of some of the congestion caused by the success of shopping outlet Bicester Village. Chiltern believe that the line will attract an additional 250,000 commuter journeys a year, over and above those travellers who would have travelled to Paddington.
Images by Richard Lofthouse