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Tram-trains could be answer to A40 gridlock
Buy this photo » STANDSTILL: Traffic backed up on the A40 at Eynsham following an accident during rush-hour
ALMOST 50 people attended the inaugural meeting of the Witney Oxford Transport Group, set up to tackle the gridlocked A40.
The new group is made up of people who use the road on a regular basis as well as groups including Railfuture Thames Valley branch, the Oxford branch of Bus Users UK and Sustainable Witney.
They met at a launch event on Wednesday in Witney's High Street Methodist Church, where they backed proposals to seek alternatives to the A40, to help cut journey times between West Oxfordshire and the city.
The launch meeting ended with a unanimous call for a new study to be made into the cause of the problems and possible solutions, which would cost an estimated £10,000 to £20,000.
The three solutions the group has suggested are a metro-style commuter train service between Oxford and Witney, using the Cotswold Line to Yarnton and then a reinstated Witney branch line, a new concrete road exclusively used by buses and a revolutionary “tram-train” service, operating partly on the railway and partly on new tracks laid alongside roads.
The old branch line railway closed in 1970, but passenger trains to Witney and on to Carterton and Fairford were withdrawn even earlier, in 1962.
Hugh Jaeger, of the bus group, said: “The first step is a feasibility study.
“We are completely open-minded about the alternatives, but one thing is absolutely certain: We can’t afford to do nothing.”
Mr Jaeger said they hoped to raise the money for the study through contributions from organisations which make up the new transport group.
Andrew McCallum, of Railfuture, said: “The view was that people wanted something new, off the A40 itself.”
The meeting was also attended by West Oxfordshire Labour district councillors Andrew Coles and Duncan Enright.
Mr Enright said: “The issue of the A40 a major problem. This campaign is welcome.
“Andrew and I decided to go back to the council to try to garner support.”
Sustainable Witney’s Peter Lefort described the A40 as a big problem and said it was good to hear people’s ideas.
In reply, Rodney Rose, deputy leader of Oxfordshire County Council, who represents Charlbury and the Wychwoods, said: “We are interested to hear ideas but they must be fully costed and it must be clear where the money will come from.
“Our immediate priorities are for an A40 to A44 link road and improvements to the Wolvercote and Cutteslowe roundabouts as part of the Oxfordshire City Deal.”
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