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Trains will do 60-70mph on city link in spite of protests
TRAINS going through Oxford on the new £130m rail link to Marylebone will be travelling at a minimum of 60mph – despite a lengthy campaign for lower speeds.
Residents – particularly in Wolvercote – claim their lives would be disrupted by noise and vibration from trains at high speed.
They had urged Chiltern Railways to run trains at a lower speed limit – suggesting a trial period of 50mph. But the company has confirmed the speed limits of its trains through Oxford in an application to the Office of Rail Regulation.
The company says: “Between Water Eaton Parkway station and Woodstock Road Junction a double track railway will be provided with a line speed of 70mph.
“Through Wolvercote tunnel the speed of freight trains may be limited to 30mph between dusk and dawn if this is required to comply with the requirements of the bat licence issued by Natural England.
“Between Woodstock Road Junction and Oxford North Junction the line will be single track, with a line speed of at least 60mph.”
More than 300 residents and parents with children at Wolvercote Primary School signed a petition in the summer calling for a 40mph limit on the track, which was passed to the Government.
But last year the Transport Secretary approved the new Oxford to London rail link, with train speeds of 70mph.
County councillor for Summertown and Wolvercote Jean Fooks said: “The real trouble is going to be caused by freight trains, which are heavier and noisier and there will be more of them.
“Chiltern Railways has said they would be doing their level best to tackle the issue of noise.”
Work on the new line is expected to begin early next year and the operator said trains would start running from Oxford to London Marylebone from 2015.
There will be two trains between Oxford and London Marylebone each way every hour, in addition to the existing four.
Stephen Barker, chief project engineer at Chiltern Railways, said: “The Oxford to London line is a commercially-funded project and must favourably compare with the alternative line in terms of journey time; passengers require that we keep journey time to a minimum.
“The planning conditions apply strict limits on noise and vibration and the upgraded infrastructure will ensure that these limits will not be breached by trains running at the proposed speeds.”
Gardener takes a line on crossing plan
AN ALLOTMENT holder is fighting to keep open the level crossing leading to his plot.
The amount of rail traffic going through the Aristotle Lane level crossing in North Oxford is projected to double from about 11 trains an hour by 2019.
Plans for the rail line include electrification, redevelopment of Oxford station, a new line going to London Marylebone and a new freight line near between Oxford and Wolvercote.
Railway bosses have said the level crossing will be too dangerous and has to go.
But Lathbury Road resident Ian Salisbury does not agree and has submitted an application to determine the legality of the new freight line specifically to get it rejected.
He said: “Network Rail is insisting they don’t need planning permission to put the line down and I am saying they do.
“If they do have to have planning permission then I am allowed to make a presentation to say the level crossing is safe and they are denying me that opportunity.
“The only way to do this is by submitting this negative planning application.
“The level crossing is used by probably 300 or 400 people to get to the allotments on the far side.”
Network Rail claims it does not have to apply for planning permission to Oxford City Council.
Mr Salisbury has applied for a certificate of lawful use for the new freight line, meaning city council planning officers will have to rule whether the “work” can go ahead.
Network Rail spokesman Dayle Sellars said: “There are major enhancements planned for the railway in Oxford and this investment will result in more capacity, trains travelling at higher speeds and an increase in the number of passenger and freight services.
“These factors represent an increase in risk of someone being struck by a train.”
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