It was good to have an introductory call with the new CEO of the East West Rail Company, Beth West, on Monday.
I wrote to Beth shortly after she took up her post to underline the importance of securing a viable solution for the London Road level crossing in Bicester. Beth told me that EWR are continuing to work through the significant number of local responses they received on London Road during last year’s consultation. While I know we all welcomed the opportunity to contribute to the consultation, it is now time for EWR to properly develop the most feasible options. I welcomed Beth’s assurances that EWR are working hard to produce a satisfactory solution which does not cut Bicester in half. Simply closing the crossing without ensuring adequate access for Bicester residents from the south would be a totally unacceptable outcome.
I also used this opportunity to reiterate local concerns about the recent disruption caused by EWR construction activity in and around Bicester. I know the closures of Bicester Road bridge and Charbridge Lane were particularly frustrating for constituents. I was pleased to hear that Beth had raised these concerns directly with the EWR Alliance, who are responsible for construction, on behalf of Bicester residents. While a certain level of disruption is inevitable for a project of this scale, I was grateful to receive assurances from Beth that they would redouble their efforts to improve communication and minimise closures wherever possible.
I have separately been made aware of an unacceptable number of heavy construction vehicles using unsuitable routes through villages to access construction sites. I have written to the EWR Alliance to raise these concerns as a matter of urgency.
I look forward to welcoming Beth to Bicester next month to visit the London Road crossing and discuss local concerns in greater detail.