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Sun April 11 2021

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Staffordshire Alliance teams up again for East-West rail link

4 Dec 15 An alliance of Atkins, Laing O’Rourke and VolkerRail has been selected to work with Network Rail on the next phase of the £270m East-West Rail rail link to connect Oxford with Cambridge and Ipswich.

Network Rail’s alliance manager, Andy Milne
Network Rail’s alliance manager, Andy Milne

Phase one of the link – a reopened line between Bicester and London Marylebone, with a new Oxford Parkway station – opened six weeks ago. It was the first new rail link of a major city to the capital in more than 100 years, Network Rail says.

Atkins, Laing O’Rourke and VolkerRail and Network Rail will work in alliance of four equal partners to build East-West Rail Phase 2 (EWR2), linking Oxford, Milton Keynes and Bedford, and Milton Keynes with London Marylebone via Aylesbury. They are currently working on the outline design and construction programme for the scheme.

Once this initial segment of work is complete, the EWR2 alliance will consult with the Department for Transport to agree a final design, construction timetable and costs. It aims to submit an application for a Transport & Works Act order in autumn 2016.  

The same team is also working together on the £250m Stafford area improvement programme (SAIP) on the West Coast Main Line.

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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 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 long-term aspiration of East West Rail is to one day link Oxford in the west to Ipswich in the east, via Milton Keynes, Bedford and Cambridge. At the moment a rail journey from Bicester to Milton Keynes goes via London.

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.”

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