Network Rail has awarded a £8m design contract to engineering consultant Parsons Brinckerhoff for the second phase of the East West Rail scheme in England.
The first such project in the region in 40 years aims to build a passenger and freight rail link between Oxford and Bedford, with spurs to Milton Keynes and Aylesbury. The major project connects East Anglia with Central, Southern and Western England.
Network Rail senior programme manager Andy Milne said: "The work Parsons Brinckerhoff will be carrying out will enable the project to be developed to the point where we can then award contracts for detailed design and construction."
The works under this phase include timetable modelling, design and alignment of track, civil engineering works to bridges and embankments, geotechnical investigation and survey works.
Brinckerhoff will also carry out a study to understand the impact of the re-established railway on level crossings, station design, consents, ecology and environmental works.
Phase 1 of the East West Rail scheme, a collaborative effort between Network Rail and Chiltern Railways, has already started. It includes construction and doubling of track for more than 18km railway line to increase line speeds to 100mph.
Construction of new overbridges, underbridges and footbridges, and closure of 37 level crossings also form part of phase 1.
The construction of a new station at Oxford Parkway and modernisation of Bicester Town and Islip stations along with a new signalling system are being planned in this phase.
Chiltern Railways will manage the upgrade of the line between Oxford and Bicester (East West Rail phase 1). It will also Bicester Town to Oxford railway to the Chiltern Main Line by construction of a 1km new line.
Image: The route map of the proposed East West Rail. Photo: courtesy of East West Rail.