Bletchley East West Rail station impression

UK: East West Railway Co has called tenders for the provision of rolling stock for use on future passenger services between Oxford, Milton Keynes, Aylesbury and Bedford.

East West Rail phases 1 and 2 schematic map

The Oxford to Cambridge railway promoter is seeking bids to supply a fleet of 12 or 14 three-car ‘self-powered’ multiple-units for this section.

The units should be equipped for use with ETCS Level 2 and capable of driver-controlled operation. They would be supplied under an agreement including a full maintenance package which would run for four years, with an option to extend for a further two years.

EWR said its decision to seek self-powered units followed ‘months of extensive market analysis and engagement with the industry’. Self-powered trains would enable services on this section of the corridor to be launched as quickly as possible, and would provide ‘valuable time’ to explore a wider range of ‘green energy’ technologies for future fleets.

The aim is for the corridor to be a ‘net zero carbon railway’ when services start running through from Oxford to Cambridge, which is envisaged by the end of the decade.

The contract would allow for a smooth transition to electrification, should this be chosen as the long-term traction option.

East West Rail phases 1 and 2 geographical map

‘Local communities have told us they would like us to get on and give them the connectivity they so desperately need, and they also want us to deliver a railway that cares for the environment’, said EWR Chief Executive Simon Blanchflower on March 9. ‘Aa short-term approach at this stage in the project is the best way to help achieve this aim.’

In February the government approved a Transport & Works Act Order granting legal powers for the required track and signalling upgrades between Bicester, Bedford, Aylesbury and Milton Keynes, including reinstating a disused section of railway between Bletchley and Claydon Junction.

The planned service on this section of the corridor would have two trains/h each way between Oxford and Milton Keynes, one train/h each way between Oxford and Bedford, and one train/h each way between Milton Keynes and Aylesbury.