ALAN WILLIAMS visited the university city to review work over the summer

Oxford North Junction: a Bournemouth-bound Voyager negotiates the pointwork as a Bicester to Kineton MoD train approaches on the Up Bicester on 21 August 2018. Brian Perryman

The first thing that strikes the visitor to Oxford station today is the sheer number of trains. Most assume that after the quadruple track section from London and Reading ends at Didcot, most trains then continue along the main line to Swindon, Bristol and South Wales, while the two tracks curving away to Oxford and points north is operationally merely a branch. But in fact the opposite is true. Traffic has been growing steadily over the years: a large number of passenger services head for the two through platforms at Oxford, plus there is a substantial amount of freight using the two through lines. And in recent years, half-hourly Chiltern services from Marylebone via Bicester terminating in the two new northfacing bay platforms have added to the scene.

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