Reopening of the Oxford-Cowley branch to passenger services is one of the key recommendations of the Oxfordshire Rail Corridor Study, published in June. The study has been developed in anticipation of rising passenger numbers in the area, as well as significant freight growth.
It recommends that Oxford station should be developed following the principles of the current station masterplan being developed by local authorities (MR July 2021) and track quadrupling between Oxford station and Radley.
Other interventions include an additional platform at Hanborough and doubling the North Cotswold Line between Oxford North Junction and Hanborough, a junction upgrade at Osbofrd North Junction, junction upgrades around Didcot and an additional platform at the station.
New stations at Oxford Science Park and Oxford Business Park on the Cowley branch are proposed, as is a new station and loop extension at Grove.
The study envisages better connectivity between seven growth hubs in the area - Banbury, Bicester Village, Culham, Didcot Parkway, Hanborough, Oxford and Oxford Parkway, with most passenger services to be extended across Oxford rarther than terminating at the station. New direct services from Oxford to Swindon and Bristol are also suggested.
A 70% increase in the number of services is recommended alongside changes to calling patterns and service coverage. This would increase direct connections between Oxfordshire’s growth hubs by 160% and between Oxford and key inter-regional connections by 106%.
With the study complete, the Oxfordshire Connect integrated programme is now in the Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline, with development work to progress priority interventions to the next stage of business case development.