The UK’s Network Rail has awarded a £87m contract to a joint venture (JV) between Carillion and Buckingham Group Contracting to design and build new Chiltern Railways route between London and Oxford.

The new section of line, which will serve as an alternative link between Oxford and London, will also connect the western section of the East West Rail scheme to Bedford and Milton Keynes.

Network Rail route managing director Dyan Crowther said: "The new Oxford to London line and wider East West Rail scheme will deliver significant economic, social and environmental benefits to Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire and beyond."

Upgrade of the line between Oxford and Bicester and the connection of the Bicester Town to Oxford railway to the Chiltern Main Line by construction of 1km of new railway, will be managed by a partnership between Network Rail and Chiltern Railways.

"The new line will deliver significant economic, social and environmental benefits."

The project will also involve widening existing track bed; doubling over 18km of track; increasing line speed to 100mph; constructing new overbridges, underbridges and footbridges; closing 37 level crossings; building a new station at Oxford Parkway; upgrading Bicester Town and Islip stations; and installing a new signalling system.

Chiltern Railways is scheduled to start Oxford to London Marylebone services from the newly built Oxford Parkway station in the summer of 2015.

Services will begin from Oxford city centre in the spring of 2016, after the completion of upgrades at Oxford station.

The project also includes a further phase to reconstruct and double disused track between Claydon junction and Bletchley; upgrade and double track between Bicester and Claydon junction, and Aylesbury and Claydon junction; and build a new station at Winslow.

Image: Chiltern Railways 168216 and 168003 at London Marylebone railway station. Photo: courtesy of mattbuck.