First New Rail Route for 100 Years

By | Category: Travel rumblings

It is hard to believe that there has been no new railway route for a century. Yes, the occasional new station has opened but a new route? Chiltern Railways operates lines out of Marylebone in London to the commuter suburbs of north west London and on into Oxfordshire and Birmingham. For the first time they are going to operate a line to Oxford from Marylebone via High Wycombe and Bicester which will take just over the hour.

But, you will say, there are trains already linking Oxford and London using First Great Western out of Paddington via Reading which also take about an hour. What’s different?

Apart from a different way to go, apart from a real rail competitor on a busy tourist route, the tourist now has a choice and there aren’t too many examples of that on our rail network. And the choice is between using First Great Western and Chiltern, a rail company that regularly comes close if not top of the Passenger Focus satisfaction surveys amongst rail users. Given that the times are about the same and that so are the prices I would then decide on which provides the better service so Chiltern could be onto a winner.

Let’s not forget however that the tourist has another form of transport to get to Oxford from London. Both the Oxford Tube and the Oxford Express are coach companies doing the journey in 100 minutes or thereabout and they leave every 15 minutes during the main part of the day. It gives the traveller a real choice and both bus services operate efficiently. Did competition cause that? If it did then when Chiltern starts its service in 2013, (that’s the bad news that it is three years away) it is to be hoped that competition will cause First Great Western to improve as well.

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