Oxfordshire train line expansion under study

The council has enlisted the services of SLC Rail to oversee a thorough Infrastructure Place Study on the proposed new Cowley Branch Line.

SLC Rail will lead this assessment to ascertain if additional infrastructure placements are necessary to ensure the effective integration of the rail scheme into the existing community.

The commission is part of a larger £4.5 million package of work targeted at reopening the Cowley Branch Line to passengers.

Oxford Mail: Map indicating areas served by the proposed serviceMap indicating areas served by the proposed service (Image: N/A)

The venture is supported by Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council, and a host of major local landowners.

Currently, the line caters exclusively to freight services to BMW’s Cowley manufacturing plant.

However the rail track will undergo an upgrade to provide reinstated passenger rail services.

Two new stations, “Oxford Littlemore” near the Oxford Science Park, and “Oxford Cowley” near ARC Oxford, will be developed if the plans go ahead.

Oxford Mail: Driver Phil Cotton stops at the Oxford Science Park in 2014 Driver Phil Cotton stops at the Oxford Science Park in 2014 (Image: Richard Cave)

In addition to its lead role, SLC Rail will collaborate with Network Rail, which is currently devising the engineering design for the rail infrastructure and core station solutions.

Network Rail will cooperate with SLC Rail to create the most compelling funding asks to Government and other potential funders during 2024.

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.”

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.”

Councillor Louise Upton, 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.

“This would really improve the city’s public transport options, increasing overall capacity locally, reducing congestion on our roads and contributing to a better rail network regionally.

“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.”

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