East West Rail Phase 2 contract award

Network Rail has awarded an alliancing contract with Atkins, Laing O’Rourke and VolkerRail for the design and construction of the East West Rail Phase 2 (EWR2) scheme.

Part of Network Rail’s Railway Upgrade Plan, this scheme will link Oxford to Bedford and Milton Keynes via Bletchley, and Milton Keynes to London Marylebone via Aylesbury.

Andy Milne, Network Rail’s senior programme manager and alliance manager, said:

“We are an alliance of four equal parts working as one team. Never before on a rail project of this size has an alliance been convened this early. By scoping all aspects of the project now we will see potential problems early and be able to mitigate them. The earlier we do this work the greater value for taxpayers’ money we can deliver.”

The alliance is currently tasked with continuing the development of the outline design and the construction programme for the project.

Andy added:

“The alliance is a completely integrated team where all parties share in the benefits and risks. This will help drive down costs, reduce risks and lead to the more efficient and timely delivery of the project.”

Once this initial segment of work is complete, the EWR2 alliance partners will consult with the Department for Transport to agree the final design scope, construction timetable and costs.

The alliance aims to submit an application for a Transport & Works Act order in autumn 2016.

Graeme Castle, rail sector leader for Laing O’Rourke, speaking on behalf of all the EWR2 partners, said:

“We are all proud to be involved in this nationally significant project and aim to build on the success of the Staffordshire Alliance, where the partnership is working collaboratively to deliver the Stafford Area Improvements Programme.

“Our early involvement in the East West Rail Phase 2 project will guarantee an efficient and constructible design that is at the forefront of innovation built on digital engineering and offsite manufacture.”

The East West Rail scheme involves upgrading and reconstructing underused and mothballed sections of the railway linking the Great Western, Chiltern, West Coast and Midland main lines north of London and providing a strategic east-west route connecting key centres. It will deliver significant economic, social and environmental benefits to Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire.

Once complete, this work would enable the following train journeys:

  • Oxford – Milton Keynes (calling at Oxford Parkway, Bicester, Winslow and Bletchley)
  • Oxford – Bedford (calling at Oxford Parkway, Bicester, Winslow, Bletchley, Woburn Sands and Ridgmont)
  • Milton Keynes – Aylesbury – London Marylebone (an extension of the existing service between Marylebone and Aylesbury Vale Parkway, with stops anticipated at
  • Bletchley, Winslow, Princes Risborough and High Wycombe)
  • Increased capacity for freight services

Plans include:

  • A new station at Winslow
  • Two new platforms at Bletchley
  • Construction of 18 new overbridges
  • Construction of 22 new footbridges/subways
  • Changes to 97 railway crossings