Marston Vale line
|Marston Vale line|
London Midland diesel multiple units 153346 (left) and 150105 pass at Ridgmont railway station in Bedfordshire
South East England
East of England
|Operator(s)||West Midlands Trains|
British Rail Class 150|
British Rail Class 153
|Line length||~24 mi (39 km)|
|Number of tracks||1–2|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
Marston Vale line
The line was opened in 1846 by the London and Birmingham Railway, though the L&B merged with the Grand Junction Railway to become the London and North Western Railway whilst construction was ongoing – the LNWR ran it from its opening. The line later became part of the cross-country Varsity line from Oxford Rewley Road to Cambridge (opened in stages between 1854 and 1862). Much of the line was built on land owned by the 7th Duke of Bedford, who supported the line but insisted that any station on his estate (Fenny Stratford, Woburn Sands, Ridgmont and Millbrook) be constucted in half-timbered style.
The line was threatened in the late 1950s and again in 1964 – though the Bletchley to Oxford and Bedford to Cambridge sections succumbed in December 1967, the Bletchley to Bedford section survived.
In 1977 the Parliamentary Select Committee on Nationalised Industries recommended that electrification of more of Britain's rail network be considered. By 1979 British Rail presented a range of options to do so by 2000, some of which included the Marston Vale line. The proposal was not implemented.
Silverlink operated the line from privatisation in 1996 until 2007. Services were initially in the hands of a mixture of heritage slam-door diesel multiple units formed of 2-car Class 117 and single-car Class 121 units until replacement with Class 150/1 trains inherited from Central Trains.
The is well known featuring in many Railway books, including Classic Railway Journeys of the West. 
It is one of a number of British Railways that is covered by a Community Rail Partnership, in this case known as the Marston Vale Community Rail Partnership. Like other Community Rail Partnerships around the country, the Partnership aims to increase use of the line by getting local people involved with their local line. They do this by various means, such as holding community events, running special train services, and publicising the line locally.
Apart from a short length of single track at both ends, the line is double track, and is not electrified (barring short lengths at either end). It has a loading gauge of W8 and a line speed of 60 miles per hour (97 km/h). The line's signalling centre is at Ridgmont.
East West RailEdit
Extension to Milton Keynes CentralEdit
In June 2005, the then franchisee, Silverlink Trains announced an intention to extend the Marston Vale service via the West Coast Main Line to Milton Keynes Central, where a new platform and track would be built alongside the up slow track. Work began on 4 December 2006 at the station to prepare for a service connection. The platform was ready for use in January 2009 but the service did not materialise and there are no longer any published plans for it to do so. The service pattern on East West Rail remains to be announced; specifically whether there will be an explicit Bedford–Milton Keynes service or whether passengers will continue to have to change at Bletchley. As of January 2018[update], there exists no east-to-north chord between this line and the WCML: the route the chord would take is currently[a] occupied by trade outlets and a warehouse.[b]
Stations in and around Milton Keynes
|Stations around Bedford|
- "Bedford Railway"Disused Stations Site Record; Retrieved 7 September 2016
- Wade-Matthews, Max (2000). Classic Railway Journeys of the West. London: Lorenz Books. pp. 82–83. ISBN 0-7548-0624-3.
- Anonymous 1979, p. 0.
- Anonymous 1979, p. 2.
- Anonymous 1979, p. 8.
- "Route 18 – West Coast Main Line" (PDF). Network Rail. 2009. Retrieved 1 June 2009.
- "New Marston Vale livery revealed as contract for new trains is signed". 2018-08-22. Retrieved 2018-09-11.
- "East West Rail Grip Stage 2 Report" (PDF). p. 38. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 September 2008.
- "UK transport news, data and jobs". Transport Briefing. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007.
- "New Rail Platform on Time for 2008". Milton Keynes News. 6 December 2006.[dead link]
- as of May 2018
- on Third Avenue and James Way, Denbigh West
- Anonymous (1979). Railway Electrification. British Railways Board (Central Publicity Unit) [Winter, 1979]. pp. 0–2, 8.