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New fight to reopen Ongar rail line

By This is Essex  |  Posted: July 09, 2008

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EXASPERATED commuters have launched an online petition in their fight to get a railway line reopened.

Deemed financially unviable, the Epping to Ongar branch of London Underground's Central Line closed in 1994 after serving the people of Ongar for nearly 40 years.

But now more than 100 people have already signed a petition calling for its reopening.

Their action comes as stations at Epping and Theydon Bois become too busy to handle the growth of surrounding towns and villages, and commuters struggle with a lack of public transport in the Ongar area.

Campaigners also say there are inadequate parking facilities at existing stations.

John Glover, chair of the Ongar Railway Preservation Society, said: “I have already signed the petition and I would like to see everyone else sign up.

“All it needs is the political will for it to happen. Unfortunately, once authority has gone in one direction it is hard to make them change their mind.

“But I really think the way forward is to reinstate the railway. We need to move past talking and into action.”

Ongar MP Eric Pickles also supports the petition and has been in contact with London Underground following complaints from residents about inadequate parking at Theydon Bois station.

He said: “Having the line reinstated is definitely feasible. All the things we said at the time the railway was closing, about Ongar expanding, have proven to be the case.

“I would certainly be very supportive of this and it would be of great help in easing congestion.

“However, I wouldn't want to mislead people and I do think the possibility is remote.

“Ongar is considerably outside London and it would depend on whether the mayor and Transport for London were willing to spend the money.”

A Transport for London spokesman said: “The Epping to Ongar branch closed in 1994 and was sold to the Epping Ongar Railway in 1996.

“At the time of its closure very few people were using that section of the line, less than a 100 people a day. London Underground has no plans to reopen the Epping to Ongar extension.

“Since its closure the Central Line has been modernised including automatic signalling which means that it would be very difficult and costly to re-open beyond Epping.”

To view the petition visit http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/ongar-tube-back/

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    dawn, ongar  |  September 18 2008, 4:05PM

    forgot to say the price of bus fairs and a hour long waite between 501 to brentwood is bad so a train would be a lot quicker

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    dawn barker, ongar  |  September 18 2008, 4:02PM

    hi we havnt long move here form collier row pur son goes to school there but thay have rid of the 500 and he now has to take 3 busse to school the railway would be of grteat benifit to all espcaily the kids that live here when thay leave school more job optunty all so my family all live in romford hailnult harold hill ect it would be a shout ride insted of 3 hours we are not the only one a freind son has to got via epping to school every day BRING BACK THE RAILWAY its is going to be needed in the future

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    eric thurston OBE, Theydon Bois  |  September 10 2008, 10:14PM

    I have a business in Ongar where the Residents of the Area and surrounding vilages are having to drive to Epping, Theydon Bois, Debden, Loughton etc where parking is very limited, and then mostly fail to get seats on the tube. Many tell me they did not find parking within half mile of a station and were late for work in London - the Ongar line should be reopened without delay, this would be a great advantage to them and vilagers where they do park to have some peace in their roads. Some of our Ongar staff have to travel by car to Ongar when tube travel would keep them off the roads which are already congested and would leave some parking places for our customers. I think getting a tube service going again will save many worries and leave the users with more money to keep up their standards of living and less time travelling.

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    keith, Blackmore  |  August 28 2008, 8:15PM

    Why dont TFL and ECC explore the possiblility of introducing a diesel train service on a single track? This service works well for 'one rail' which is the service that runs between Romford, Emerson Park and Upminster. This would save money compared to a normal tube and maintenance as leafs on the line would not be a major option. The use of electricity would not be a major factor and cost. This would be cost effective to run and would boost the local economy of Ongar and North Weald. I would welcome a new Ongar service as this would save me having to drive to other stations.

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    Miss. Stone, Theydon Bois  |  August 19 2008, 9:36AM

    I would love to be able to purchase property in Ongar. As a first time buyer, i see Epping and Theydon Bois way out of my price range and therefore seek further around. Ongar is such a nice town but i am deterred by no transport. Quick maths tell me that if approx. 400 people use the station everyday it would generate around £3,200 per day, equating to £16,000 in a five day working week, at the basic £4 single fare - return. I know that Theydon and Epping is a complete nightmare to park, let alone get a seat and it is becoming an increasing problem. To reduce carbon footprint of Ongar residents driving to Epping and Theydon and to relieve first time buyers, this would be a very viable approach. And to those who have never seen an un-manned station - you obviously have never travelled from Theydon bois who have had their ticket office closed for many months.

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    Andy, north weald  |  July 15 2008, 5:12PM

    Link to petition http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/ongar-tube-back/ We need better transport links, if we are to be encouraged to use public transport then a decent reliable service needs to operate. You can barely get a parking space at Epping after 7.15am weekdays. As for waiting 40 minutes for a train, at least if the service is timetabled correctly and operated punctually then I would rather trust the train than a frankly it and miss bus service.

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    H.Paget, Theydon  |  July 15 2008, 8:49AM

    Bring back the North Weald & ongar stations & create new stations at St. Margarets, & extend the line to Harlow.

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    Soraya John-Baptiste, Ongar  |  July 14 2008, 1:58PM

    I would definitely support the reinstating of the Epping-Ongar line. I currently pay £200 for a annual season ticket which covers zones 1-6, excluding the £27.00 weekly bus fare I pay on the Arriva bus, which, I might add, the last bus runs from Epping Station at 19:51 (and more often than not does not arrive, leaving stranded commuters without cars the added cost of having to pay £16 in minicab fares. As my husband works shift work, in London, he often has to stay at relatives as he cannot come home when he finishes a late shift, nor can he leave from home in Ongar when he is on an early shift. Bus travel in and around Ongar gets worse, as during the weekends, the buses run every hour and on Sunday every 2 hours, again finishing very early in the evenings, yet all buses travel to Harlow! Public transport in the district is a joke, I would rather wait 40 mins for a train connection that gets me nearer home, than wait for a phantom bus or pay price hikedcab fares.Reopen Ongar Tube!

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    Janis Williams, High Ongar  |  July 10 2008, 10:23AM

    I would definitely use the tube from Ongar, I have lived here for 1 year and think it would revive Ongar town. There are more commuters in this area now, it's needed more than ever.

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    Commuter, Ongar  |  July 09 2008, 11:33AM

    I was one of the people who used this line before it closed. Would I use it regularly again if it re-opened? - No. Why? Apart from being expensive as there was no subsidy from Essex CC there was also a 40 minute wait if you just missed the train. ( because of the single track) . I will stick to driving to a station in another zone.