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Archive - Saturday, 12 May 2012
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Compromise reached over rail line tree felling
TREE clearance work on an out-of-use section of railway trackbed between Oxford and Wolvercote has resumed after a compromise was agreed between Network Rail and Oxford City Council.
Tree surgeons working for the rail infrastructure company are now clearing low-hanging branches and shrubs to allow surveyors access to the trackbed of a former goods train loop line which runs along the eastern edge of Port Meadow and Wolvercote Common, from Aristotle Lane to the junction for the Cotswold Line to Worcester.
Tree felling work alongside Wolvercote Common was halted last month by the council’s trees officer Kevin Caldicott after the Sheriff of Oxford, Jean Fooks, complained that it could affect nesting birds.
Network Rail wants to carry out a detailed survey to assess what work will be needed to get the overgrown trackbed back into shape to carry a railway line again as part of its plans to increase capacity through Oxford.
If it was reinstated, trains from Oxford towards Banbury and the Cotswold Line would be able to run in parallel to Wolvercote, rather than having to share a single track.
A Network Rail spokesman said: “We are aware of local people’s concerns and, following discussions with the council’s tree officer and ecologists, have agreed to limit the vegetation clearance to a metre-wide strip along the embankment.
“This will enable surveyors to assess the condition of the ground, while limiting the visual impact.”
The loop line was built in the early 1940s to cope with a surge in rail traffic during the Second World War. The track was removed after it was taken out of use in 1973. For most of its length it ran on an embankment separated from the main trackbed of the Oxford-Banbury line by a drainage channel.