Councils back £160m Oxford station expansion plan

image copyrightNetwork Rail
image captionNew tracks would be laid at Oxford to increase train capacity if plans are passed

Council leaders have backed plans for a £160m expansion and redevelopment of Oxford's train station.

The proposals, put forward to the government by Network Rail, would see more tracks laid to increase capacity at the station for more passenger and freight services.

It comes after a study suggested a need for a 70% increase in services by 2028.

The Oxfordshire Growth Board said the station is "a bottleneck to future rail network expansion".

The body, which is formed by the county's six local authorities, said redevelopment of the station would be the "gateway" to "unlock" future rail projects in Oxfordshire, including the re-establishment of the Cowley branch line.

Gordon Mitchell, chief executive of Oxford City Council, said at a growth board meeting on Tuesday that a revamped Oxford station would be the "building block for everything else".

The growth board said a decision on Network Rail's application could be announced as part of the chancellor's spending review or early in 2021.

image copyrightRon Strutt
image captionAspects of the current station's design are described as "poor"

It is hoped a larger Oxford station would enable the East West Rail line between the city and Cambridge to open by 2024, and also increase services on the Cotswold Line.

The growth board said the project could also lead to the the "creation of new stations" at Cowley and Grove as well as a range of new routes in the county.

'Quick wins

The plans were drawn up following a year-long Oxfordshire Rail Corridor Study, which was released earlier this year.

The study found the county's rail system had "accommodated significant growth" in the last 10 years but had "little further capacity and does not link important hubs within Oxfordshire and beyond".

Council leaders said the creation of a new entrance on the station's west side and a wider Botley Road bridge would "deliver wider benefits for both growth and sustainability in Oxfordshire's economy".

In a letter to chancellor Rishi Sunak and transport secretary Grant Shapps, growth board chair Emily Smith said the project was "an investment opportunity that delivers tangible quick-wins".

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