Oxford North Junction: a Great Western Railway Intercity Express Train approaches the university city on 30 October 2019 with the 11.00 Great Malvern to Paddington service. Ken Brunt

FURTHER EXAMINATION of capacity improvements in the Oxford area is to be progressed under the banner of Oxfordshire Connect.

The work builds on the previous Oxfordshire Rail Corridor Study (ORCS – p70, August 2019 issue), which initially studied the rail network and identified high level interventions which may be required to deliver an enhanced train service. A second stage of work has since been completed with more detailed analysis of the scale and cost of interventions. Oxfordshire Connect will now seek to create a comprehensive investment programme covering all schemes, and the project has entered the Department for Transport’s Rail Network Enhancements Pipeline.

Oxfordshire Connect contains three specific areas of focus. A study of the potential for reopening the Cowley branch line was carried out within the first stage of ORCS, with the intention of Chiltern Railways’ services from London Marylebone being extended across the city. Capital costs were estimated at between £29 and £53 million depending on the level of enhancements provided, with a likely reopening date of 2028. The branch would serve two new stations, at Oxford Business Park and Oxford Science Park.

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