• Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Oxford train station expansion link to Cowley Branch Line


Aug 29, 2022

A MULTI-MILLION pound investment into expanding Oxford rail station could see the reopening of the Cowley Branch Line.

Last week, the Department for Transport announced a £161 million financial package will be pumped into the station, to make various improvements.

Among the upgrades to be completed by 2024 are the creation of a new track, platform and entrance on the west side of the station.

READ AGAIN: Oxford station to get £161m for new track and platform

OxLEP, the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, contributed £10m towards the £161m total.

Nigel Tipple, chief executive of OxLEP, said: “The extra platform creates new opportunities, and the provision to extend the Cowley Branch Line.

“By improving the platform and capacity, it brings further development proposals for the Cowley Branch Line.

“For a city with higher unemployment, especially in East Oxford, it creates the opportunities for our businesses and communities.

“This investment allows us to build momentum – it’s another piece of the jigsaw we need.”

Oxford Mail: Nigel Tipple, chief executive of OxLEP. Picture: Ed NixNigel Tipple, chief executive of OxLEP. Picture: Ed Nix

Susan Brown, leader of Oxford City Council, added: “We’ve been campaigning for the Cowley Branch Line for years and years, and for us, it’s a no-brainer.

“It’s a very significant place to have a passenger line.

“The Cowley Branch Line works could be allowed to become a reality with this expansion.”

On the general expansion plans, the council leader added: “We want our station to be a place people can be proud of.

“It’s really important – we have lots of jobs coming into the city in the coming years.”

Oxford Mail: Susan Brown, leader of Oxford City Council. Picture: Ed NixSusan Brown, leader of Oxford City Council. Picture: Ed Nix

READ MORE: How will Oxford station expansion boost the city and wider area?

The Cowley Branch Line is currently only used by freight trains going to and from the BMW Mini Plant, and has been closed to passengers since 1963.

Mike Gallop, Network Rail’s western route and strategic operations director, described the investment at Oxford as the ‘biggest scheme for some time’.

He said: “Anything we can do to increase the number of people using the railway is a good thing – we’re very keen on improving connectivity and the Botley Road rail bridge.

“There are multiple benefits to this investment.

“It’s been worked on and planned for Oxford since 2006, and is absolutely by an order of some magnitude, the biggest scheme here for some time.”

Tom Pierpoint, interim business development director at Great Western Railway, said: “We’re doing important things to offer more flexibility, and the new entrance on the western side will offer extra accessibility.

“It’s a scheme which supports more people getting out of their car, and to get people travelling by train again after Covid.”

Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s cabinet member for highway management, added: “It’s very good news, it’s part of a suite of changes coming to our city.

“The situation under the Botley Road rail bridge has not been great, but this is a great opportunity to deliver significant improvements.”

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This story was written by Liam Rice, he joined the team in 2019 as a multimedia reporter.

Liam covers politics, travel and transport. He occasionally covers Oxford United.

Get in touch with him by emailing: Liam.rice@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter @OxMailLiamRice