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Chiltern submits plans for new maintenance depot at Banbury

Chiltern Railways wants to build a new light maintenance depot for rail vehicles near Banbury station. 

Its application, submitted to Cherwell District Council, also includes proposals for associated accommodation and rail sidings for train stabling. 

The depot could accommodate up to 58 rail vehicles plus up to four Network Rail track maintenance vehicles. The depot would be used for stabling and maintenance including routine servicing, cleaning and fuelling, with most of this taking place overnight. 

However, the site would operate 24 hours a day with the daytime hours concentrating on routine maintenance and urgent repair work. 

Chiltern wants to build the depot on land adjoining and north of the river Cherwell and south west of Spital Farm Sewage in Bankside. The site is south of Banbury station and was formerly occupied by a British Rail engine shed, which ceased operation in the 1960s and was demolished in the 1970s. 

According to Chiltern, the site has been disused since the 1970s, although there is a track through the site that is in regular use by Network Rail to gain access to the main line railway. 

The area within the depot site boundary fence is about 32,000sq m. The proposed depot buildings, including the depot workshop shed, staff accommodation, underframe wash and the storage tanks, is expected to cover 2,783sq m of the overall site area. 

In its report to the council, the operator said: “Chiltern Railways has experienced substantial growth in passenger volume on its network which is expected to continue over the rest of the franchise period and beyond. 

“Network Rail is in the process of developing a re-signalling scheme for the Banbury area which will involve changes to the track layout and a loss of the current stabling siding facilities around the station area. 

“Chiltern Railways have a franchise requirement from the Department for Transport to increase the number of operational rail vehicles to cope with the predicted growth in passenger volumes. When this is considered along with the proposed improvement in train services and the loss of the current stabling capacity at Banbury there is a need for a new depot facility.” 

It added that other sites have been considered. However, to maintain and improve the service from Banbury it has been identified that the proposed site is the only viable option available. 

Loraine Organ, head of projects at Chiltern Railways, said: “The proposed new depot at Banbury will ensure that we have the necessary facilities to manage the anticipated demand for our services. 

“It will also create employment opportunities for skilled engineering staff and apprenticeship places so that we are able to continue to grow and offer our passengers the best service possible.” 

The site will also provide 35 parking spaces, which includes 25 for staff, 10 for visitors and two accessible spaces. Allowance in the layout have also been made for a future train simulator to be located alongside the staff accommodation block but not directly attached to it as the simulator will require its own sound proofing. 

(Image: c. Elliott Brown) 

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