Feasibility study for new Oxfordshire route published

Feasibility study for new Oxfordshire route published

A feasibility study for a new rail link between Oxford, Witney and Carterton has been published. The study, which was commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council, found that a rail link would be feasible and could be justified in transport strategy terms.

The study suggests that journey times for passengers could be cut in half alongside the possibility of freight opportunities for RAF Brize Norton near Carterton opening up.

However, the study has also identified a number of planning and environmental issues which would have to be addressed before any development was undertaken.

The high financial cost of the project which is estimated to cost nearly £900 million was also highlighted as possibly prohibitive, however it does conclude that if the project went ahead, it would be profitable.

Councillor Duncan Enright, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for travel and development strategy, said: “We are delighted to see the publication of this study exploring future sustainable options for transport between West Oxfordshire and Oxford.

“We really hope that it will prompt much-needed government investment into ambitious rail enhancement in Oxfordshire and take pressure off the overstretched A40.

“A rail link could save more than one million car miles and 100 tonnes of carbon emissions from car use every year as well as making travel easier for commuters and other visitors.”

Councillor Andy Graham, leader of West Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We declared a climate emergency in 2019 and reducing our carbon emissions from road-based transport is vital if we are to meaningfully tackle the emergency and help meet the 2050 national zero target.”

The route was first proposed in 2016 after initial plans to expand the A40  road to help congestion in the area, with the Government releasing funds to review the proposal and conduct a feasibility study in 2021.

Cllr Graham commented: “The county council’s A40 improvement programmes will clearly go a long way towards improving opportunities for walking, cycling and public transport through bus priority measures and enhanced cycle and pedestrian routes. However, it is sensible to consider what more can potentially be done in the longer term, including the part that a rail-based solution could possibly play.”

It is expected that the study will be reviewed by the government but no timetable on the next stage has been given yet.

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