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East West Rail takes next step towards new trains

THE company building East West Rail has taken the next step towards procuring a new fleet of trains for the Western Section of the route between Oxford and Bedford, which will be the first part of the line to reopen in full.

At the moment, trains run between Oxford and Bicester, and Bletchley and Bedford, and the centre section between a junction just east of Bicester and Bletchley station is currently being restored, with work well under way replacing a flyover at Bletchley which will carry EWR over the West Coast Main Line and carry high level platforms. Trains on this section will also serve Milton Keynes and Aylesbury.

The EWR Company said it will now be in touch again with potential suppliers, after it had taken account of feedback from the market following the first procurement phase in March.

A Prior Information Notice has been issued, and this sets out plans to obtain a small fleet of between 12 and 14 ‘self-powered’ three-car trains at an estimated price of £44 million for a four-year lease, extendable by two years. The units would be equipped with ETCS Level 2 and capable of being worked with a driver only.

The line is a candidate in the longer term for electrification, and EWR Co. said this first procurement will be ‘a short-term, interim solution’.

East West Railway Company chief executive Simon Blanchflower said: ‘We listened to what the market had to say about our technical specification, and this has enabled us to reshape our requirements in a way that give us more flexibility in achieving the right outcomes for passengers.

‘It’s essential we get this public procurement absolutely right, to make sure we give the best value to taxpayers and provide the best solution to the communities who live and work along the East West Rail route.’

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