Cllr David Hopkins, who’s ward at MK City Council includes stations at Woburn Sands and Bow Brickhill, and who represents MK City Council on the Marston Vale Community Rail Partnership, has expressed his disappointment at the news from London North Western (LNW – who operate the rail franchise on the line) does not foresee trains operating again on the line until the autumn of 2023 … at the earliest.
LNW no longer anticipates seeing the return of the Class 230 engines that had been specifically (and at some cost) adapted from former underground trains to operate on this service. Instead, it proposes to reintroduce the class 150 engines, withdrawn from the line in 2019.
Apart from the inconvenience this has caused and will continue to cause to regular rail commuters (which includes school children attending schools in Bedford and others accessing the Kimberley Sixth Form College at Stewartby), Cllr Hopkins has also raised concerns over the limitations the replacement bus service offers – in particular the considerably extended journey length as well as there being little or no provision for those travelling with cycles nor those with disabilities.
However, Cllr Hopkins has applauded LNW for its openness and honesty in admitting its failures in the operation of this service and accepts its determination to overcome these obstacles to a return to a fully timetabled train service as quickly as is practicable given the need for replacement trains, driver and crew training and new maintenance arrangements to be put in place.
Cllr Hopkins comments, ‘LNW is offering stakeholders a regular briefing session and has produced a detailed Frequently Asked Questions document to be place on social media, town and parish council web sites and the like and we are grateful for this. However, questions remain as to just LNW got into this position in the first place and just what this means for the longer-term viability of the long campaigned for East West Rail service connecting Oxford and Cambridge (via the Marston Vale line)’.