5th Studio to develop spatial framework for proposed Oxford rail line reopening

5th Studio has received a new commission from Oxford City Council for the creation of an Infrastructure Place Study concerning the reopening of Oxford’s Cowley Branch Line.

The purpose of the study is to ensure that the rail scheme contributes to the improvement of the neighborhoods around the two new stations.

Part of a larger £4.5 million initiative, the commission is part of the broader effort to reopen the Cowley Branch Line for passengers. Presently, the Cowley Branch Line is exclusively used for freight services to BMW’s Cowley manufacturing plant.

If funding is secured for the implementation phase, the rail track will be upgraded to accommodate reinstated passenger rail services. Two new stations are planned at “Oxford Littlemore” (near Oxford Science Park) and “Oxford Cowley” (near ARC Oxford).

5th Studio says the the spatial plan for the Cowley Branch Line will be informed by the practice’s spatial study for the National Infrastructure Commission on the Oxford to Cambridge Arc. 

Tom Holbrook, director of 5th Studio, said: “The Infrastructure Place Study for the Cowley Branch line will build on our thinking for the National Infrastructure Commission on good growth in the Oxford to Cambridge Arc. It joins a suite of projects at different scales in the practice that aim for better integrated rail infrastructure and urban planning.”


Support for this initiative comes from Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, and major local landowners. Louise Upton, city council cabinet member for planning, said: “I am delighted that we’ve reached this exciting stage in our proposals to facilitate reopening the Cowley Branch Line to passengers. A passenger service on this line would allow people to get from Blackbird Leys to the city centre in just over 10 minutes.

“While Network Rail is already working on the designs for the two proposed stations, this new commission will specifically look at bridges and paths to ensure that the new stations are accessible to the surrounding residential and commercial areas and provide new links across the existing line.”

SLC Rail, a specialist rail consultancy, will lead the contract, with 5th Studio responsible for developing a spatial framework for the project.

Sam Uren, director of SLC Rail, said: “This is the type of exciting project we like to get involved with, and we’re keen to contribute to its progression so that the new stations are thoughtfully integrated and fully accessible to maximise the positive impact to the communities within southeast Oxford.”

The Infrastructure Place Study aims to identify additional infrastructure needs to integrate the rail scheme with existing communities, optimising local movement and connectivity. This effort will run concurrently with the development of the finance and funding strategy to support the full business case for the project.

The project team will collaborate closely with Network Rail, which is currently developing the engineering design for the rail infrastructure and core station solutions.

The goal of the spatial framework is to create funding requests to the government and other potential funders, delivering integrated station designs that meet the requirements of local stakeholders and promote a shift to sustainable transport within Oxford.

>> Also read: We need to talk about Oxford

Latest news
Related news