Network Rail has produced a draft Communications Strategy with regards to the planned East West Rail / Central Spine Electrification Project

Joined up communications
Network Rail need to ensure its response to various questions is consistent. If in doubt, please contact Richard Flindell or Caryl Jones for assistance.

Compensation
Compensation is not applicable when Network Rail or its contractors undertake duties as a statutory undertaker to develop and maintain the railway. Railway upgrade and improvement works are essential and we understand these can sometimes be disruptive for local communities. In such cases we will endeavour to mitigate the impact of our works to minimise levels of noise, vibration, access to property or visual intrusion. Network Rail will also work with local authorities and communities to ensure proper notification is given and that any disruption is kept to a minimum.

It is likely that some small areas of land may be required for developing and upgrading the railway line (such as land for installing new electrical sub stations or for locating the parapets of new bridges to replace level crossings). There will also be a need to temporarily take possession of or to use land to provide contractors with access points for construction work sites. In these circumstances, compensation will be agreed between Network Rail and the land owners in line with the current compensation rules.

Consultation
As part of our overall communications strategy, Network Rail will be consulting with statutory stakeholders (such as Local Authorities and English Heritage) and local communities and other stakeholders on the Bedford to Bicester and Milton Keynes to Aylesbury sections of the East West Rail link. Whilst consultation is likely to take place from summer 2014 in two stages, Network Rail will be undertaking a series of briefings and information sessions at local railway stations and in local communities and businesses from autumn 2013.

Electrification
The Western Section of the East West Rail link will include electrification of the line between Oxford and Bletchley by 2017 and Bletchley to Bedford at a later stage – The scope of electrification is subject to a funding decision by the Office of Rail Regulation in October 2013.

Environment
An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) will be commissioned as part of the enabling work for the Bedford to Bicester and Milton Keynes to Aylesbury sections of the East West Rail link. The findings of the EIA will be documented in an Environmental Statement, due for publication in spring 2015. Network Rail will also work with our stakeholders to explore the best ways of reducing or managing the effects of the project on the environment.

Freight
The Western Section is scheduled to start operations in December 2017. As part of the national railway infrastructure it will be operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and while passenger trains (exception of sleepers) don’t operate late at night, freight trains sometimes do. Network Rail also runs engineering trains throughout the night and these are often mistaken for freight.

Railway crossings
There are almost 90 crossings and rights of way along the East West Rail route between Bedford to Oxford and Milton Keynes to Aylesbury. Network Rail has set up a Railway Crossing Task Force to maximise Network Rail and local authority skills and expertise to help find appropriate solutions to either close, divert or make crossings safer.

Each level crossing will be assessed according to the proposed addition of East West Rail core services. A second assessment will also be completed to incorporate the additional risks associated with electrification of the line.

The Railway Crossing Task Force will work together with local communities to find an appropriate resolution for each crossing. The Task Force has been set up to make sure local authorities and their constituents have an input and a say in how we tackle the issues and find the right solutions together.

Network Rail is still at an early stage in the East West Rail programme delivery and the process to find solutions for all crossings along the line will take time, collaboration and patience. Network Rail welcomes the input of the local community to help it find the right solutions. In this way, we’re working together to deliver a railway that will minimise potential risk to those who need to cross the lines.

Network Rail has started the assessment process and its aim is to find an appropriate solution for each railway crossing point in time for the reopening of the line at the end of 2017.

Stations between Bedford and Bletchley
The East West Rail Prospectus designates Woburn Sands and Lidlington as the two stopping stations along the Bedford to Bletchley section. Network Rail awaits confirmation from the DfT as to whether there is scope to consider the merits of other stations to replace one or both of these (for example, Ridgmont).

If you have any questions please contact: Caryl Jones – Communications Manager – East West Rail Consortium Phone: 07785 927210 – E: caryl.jones@bedford.gov.uk

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