East West Rail Phase 2

East West Rail Phase 2

VolkerRail is part of the East West Rail (EWR) Alliance, delivering Connection Stage 1 of the East West Rail phase 2 project, also known as EWR - connecting Bicester and Bletchley.

East West Rail is a major railway programme aimed to deliver much needed transport connections for communities between Oxford and Cambridge, and the EWR Alliance, of VolkerRail, Network Rail, AtkinsRéalis and Laing O’Rourke, is bringing back a section of railway between Bicester and Bletchley.

Delivering a reliable service for passengers was top priority, and the alliance worked with local government bodies to deliver the full Oxford-Milton Keynes connection from day one.

Current status

The project is in its final year of construction. In February 2024, the final section of track connecting Bicester and Bletchley was laid, meaning next year; for the first time in over 50 years, trains will run from Oxford to Milton Keynes and Bedford.

The team is now completing the track consolidation programme to facilitate the 100mph line speed ready for passenger services. Other activities to close out the project include:

  • Final testing of station information and surveillance systems at the two new stations. 
  • The reopening of all the public rights of way with 26 out of 27 handed back to the local authorities for public use.
  • Handing back temporary land take to landowners with includes some of the ecological compensation sites built across the project to mitigate the loss of habitat giving the landowners the information to maintain those sites.


Each alliance partner brought vital experience across each area of this turnkey project. VolkerRail led on the construction of the 66km line between Bicester and Bletchley.

Other key achievements by VolkerRail included:

  • 70km new track & drainage
  • 5 new overbridges
  • 12 new footbridges
  • 5 bridges with new deck
  • 22 refurbished bridges
  • 130km new fencing

VolkerRail also helped to bring Network Rail’s long welded rail train out of retirement to install the large quantities of long welded rail needed to complete the projects’ complex track construction programme.


East West Rail was the first major rail infrastructure project in the UK to commit to a 10% net biodiversity gain target across the whole project, prior to it becoming a formal requirement in February 2024.

By 2023, the success of the first 20 ecological compensation sites created to protect and reduce the impact of the project on important and protected species and habitats, were recognised. In total, these sites incorporate 45 ponds, badger setts, a bat house, more than 70 bat boxes and the planting of more than 150,000 plants and trees.

The Alliance also received the Green Apple Transport, Freight and Highways Environmental Improvement Sector Award for environmental best practise, following the success of its Green Champion campaign.


Safety is a top priority for the Alliance, and in 2024, the project received The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) Gold Medal Award for its dedication to the health, safety and wellbeing of its workforce over five consecutive years.

VolkerWessels UK

This project has benefited from the wider capabilities of VolkerWessels UK:

  • VolkerRail Specialist Businesses supported the alliance throughout, with piling, minor civils work, signalling, telecoms and rail plant. Teams installed a sustainable combined signalling and telecoms cable route and walkway. Installed 18 switches and crossings and a modular transformer unit, utilising its Kirow 1200 crane. Its Beaver tampers tamped over 40 route miles of new track between Bicester and Bletchley, and its Colmar and Komatsu Road Rail Vehicles maintained the ballast through brushing and profiling.
  • VolkerFitzpatrick has built a brand new station for the rural town of Winslow and its surrounding communities. The new station work includes two platforms, a link bridge, a state of the art ticket hall, and step-free access. The team has also upgraded Bletchley Station with two new high-level platforms being provided with a link footbridge connecting to the existing West Coast Mainline station. In addition two lifts and an underpass  have been constructed in order to provide access between platforms 7 and 8.
  • VolkerLaser played a critical role in the (award winning) re-build of Bletchley Flyover. The flyover, completed in November 2021, was the first major achievement needed to build a direct rail service to connect communities between Oxford, Bedford and Cambridge. VolkerLaser supplied and installed all temporary works and jacking equipment on the scheme. The jacking works were undertaken using ten hydraulic, locking collar jacks controlled by Volkerlaser synchronised jacking system. BIM modelling was also used throughout, to digitally plan and execute all lifts. 
  • VolkerHighways provided traffic management for survey and diversion works as part of the design process. Completed a road repair package which involved patching, haunching, edge repairs, crack sealant and carriageway resurfacing at various locations in Buckinghamshire. VolkerHighways also carried out an extensive offline package of works, including semi-permanent passing bays, haul road crossings, compound accesses and junction upgrades, as well as drainage, ducting, earthworks, sub-base and surfacing across sites in Buckinghamshire.

For more information, visit Network Rail’s website and East West Rail Company.