Cash secured for improvements to commuter routes

The Guided Busway in Cambridge.

The Guided Busway in Cambridge.

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Oxford Times Chief Reporter. Call me on 01865 425434

A BOOST of £35m has been awarded to Oxfordshire County Council to help combat congestion on the A40 between Oxford and Witney.

The Government grant is expected to pay for most of the project, costing at least £40m, to improve journey times.

The Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) will now work with the council to put forward a scheme.

LEP chief executive Nigel Tipple said: “It is likely to be a public transport-led bus solution, not rail.”

With the money secured, Mr Tipple suggested a guided bus system was one option that will be examined with bus companies.

It will be part of the Oxford Science Transit Scheme, designed to connect Oxford with science, research and business centres.

Oxford Mail:

Stagecoach Oxfordshire managing director Martin Sutton 

Stagecoach Oxfordshire managing director Martin Sutton said the company would ideally be looking for “a long stretch ... separating buses from the general flow of traffic” in a scheme similar to that it has operated in Cambridge since 2011.

Mr Sutton said: “The two things customers in Oxfordshire want are quicker journey times and greater certainty in arrival times.

“The guided busway has been hugely successful in Cambridge.

“The key is separating buses from the general flow of traffic.”

But the Witney Oxford Transport Group, which has been campaigning for better links along the route west of the city, warned it would be “ill-advised” to decide on a transport type without a new study first.

Spokesman Maurizio Fantato said: “This money is a positive step, but by no means a solution in any stretch of the imagination.

“We are keen for new transport links between Carterton, Witney and Oxford and that could be a guided busway, a tram or rail.

“But it would be ill-advised to recommend transport without an appropriate study.”

However railway specialist Jonathan Roberts said rail was likely to be ruled out.

Mr Roberts said: “With £40m you have to be talking about funding for bus priority.

“If you introduced rail, you would have to multiply that figure by 10.”

The Oxfordshire LEP has said single and multiple bus lanes will be looked at between Oxford and Witney.

They are also considering a tidal flow lane, for buses travelling into the city in the morning and heading out in the evening.

A £36m scheme to link the centre of Oxford with Redbridge and Pear Tree park-and-rides was proposed 15 years ago, but was dropped due to environmental concerns.

County council leader Ian Hudspeth said the improvements to the A40 would tie in with other schemes, including improvements to the Woodstock and Banbury Road roundabouts in Oxford.

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Comments (13)

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7:49am Fri 5 Sep 14

richwitney says...

No doubt the money will be wasted on some half-ar5ed scheme rather than sorting the problem once and for all.

At the very least it needs to be a 2 lane guided busway - but where's the long term vision?

Is reinstating the rail line too brave a move for our local and national politicians?
No doubt the money will be wasted on some half-ar5ed scheme rather than sorting the problem once and for all. At the very least it needs to be a 2 lane guided busway - but where's the long term vision? Is reinstating the rail line too brave a move for our local and national politicians? richwitney
  • Score: 5

8:15am Fri 5 Sep 14

H.J.Harris says...

richwitney wrote:
No doubt the money will be wasted on some half-ar5ed scheme rather than sorting the problem once and for all.

At the very least it needs to be a 2 lane guided busway - but where's the long term vision?

Is reinstating the rail line too brave a move for our local and national politicians?
I suspect not a question of bravery but reality. Trains cannot pick up at as many locations as a bus. A Rail journey to Oxford from the Witney area would first entail travelling to a Station or whatever places' are provided. Unless the passenger lived within walking or cycling distance it would necessitate a bus or car journey to start with. If a train had as many stopping places as a bus, any benefits would be lost.
Many people might think the greatest advantage of having a rail service would be that it frees up the roads for those who prefer the comfort and convenience of their car.
[quote][p][bold]richwitney[/bold] wrote: No doubt the money will be wasted on some half-ar5ed scheme rather than sorting the problem once and for all. At the very least it needs to be a 2 lane guided busway - but where's the long term vision? Is reinstating the rail line too brave a move for our local and national politicians?[/p][/quote]I suspect not a question of bravery but reality. Trains cannot pick up at as many locations as a bus. A Rail journey to Oxford from the Witney area would first entail travelling to a Station or whatever places' are provided. Unless the passenger lived within walking or cycling distance it would necessitate a bus or car journey to start with. If a train had as many stopping places as a bus, any benefits would be lost. Many people might think the greatest advantage of having a rail service would be that it frees up the roads for those who prefer the comfort and convenience of their car. H.J.Harris
  • Score: 1

8:29am Fri 5 Sep 14

herrison says...

Thank heavens tidal lanes are being considered. Only sensible option when you get into the city, certainly - both Banbury and Woodstock have space for 3 lanes, and these can't be used properly at the moment. Good.
Thank heavens tidal lanes are being considered. Only sensible option when you get into the city, certainly - both Banbury and Woodstock have space for 3 lanes, and these can't be used properly at the moment. Good. herrison
  • Score: 0

9:23am Fri 5 Sep 14

Andrew:Oxford says...

richwitney wrote:
No doubt the money will be wasted on some half-ar5ed scheme rather than sorting the problem once and for all.

At the very least it needs to be a 2 lane guided busway - but where's the long term vision?

Is reinstating the rail line too brave a move for our local and national politicians?
£35M/£40M is a good starting point.

Our local and national politicians quite simply don't have the skills to deal with anything more difficult than a a bus lane or "bus way" though.

It should be rail - perhaps the local council needs to subcontract the work to Transport Scotland? They've done quite well with the Border's Rail link...

Border's rail cost around £260M for 30 miles of reinstated track, with many viaducts and tunnels. Witney Rail would be for 8 miles of reinstated track with no tunnels or major viaducts. So around £70M all things being equal?

That's around 8% of the capital spent (£900M) on improving Reading railway station in the last year or so. It can always be extended to Carterton in due course...

All of this clearly depends on obtaining the consent of the notorious Oxford(shire) faction of the CPRE for building on the Greenbelt. No doubt there will be "fear", "anxiety" and "ruined lives" over the risk that new homes will be built on the basis of improved public transport infrastructure.
[quote][p][bold]richwitney[/bold] wrote: No doubt the money will be wasted on some half-ar5ed scheme rather than sorting the problem once and for all. At the very least it needs to be a 2 lane guided busway - but where's the long term vision? Is reinstating the rail line too brave a move for our local and national politicians?[/p][/quote]£35M/£40M is a good starting point. Our local and national politicians quite simply don't have the skills to deal with anything more difficult than a a bus lane or "bus way" though. It should be rail - perhaps the local council needs to subcontract the work to Transport Scotland? They've done quite well with the Border's Rail link... Border's rail cost around £260M for 30 miles of reinstated track, with many viaducts and tunnels. Witney Rail would be for 8 miles of reinstated track with no tunnels or major viaducts. So around £70M all things being equal? That's around 8% of the capital spent (£900M) on improving Reading railway station in the last year or so. It can always be extended to Carterton in due course... All of this clearly depends on obtaining the consent of the notorious Oxford(shire) faction of the CPRE for building on the Greenbelt. No doubt there will be "fear", "anxiety" and "ruined lives" over the risk that new homes will be built on the basis of improved public transport infrastructure. Andrew:Oxford
  • Score: 4

12:28pm Fri 5 Sep 14

King Joke says...

herrison wrote:
Thank heavens tidal lanes are being considered. Only sensible option when you get into the city, certainly - both Banbury and Woodstock have space for 3 lanes, and these can't be used properly at the moment. Good.
Er, they are used as bus lanes already. Yes it would be sensible to set them as tidal bus lanes, but the County might struggle to get planning permission for the overhead gantries that tidal flow systems require, sadly.
[quote][p][bold]herrison[/bold] wrote: Thank heavens tidal lanes are being considered. Only sensible option when you get into the city, certainly - both Banbury and Woodstock have space for 3 lanes, and these can't be used properly at the moment. Good.[/p][/quote]Er, they are used as bus lanes already. Yes it would be sensible to set them as tidal bus lanes, but the County might struggle to get planning permission for the overhead gantries that tidal flow systems require, sadly. King Joke
  • Score: 0

12:30pm Fri 5 Sep 14

King Joke says...

The good thing about a busway is that it could be converted to light rail at a later date, and a light rail track with rails embedded in concrete could still accommodate guided buses. You could in theory have a light rail service to Witney centre and the main estates, with guided buses using the track and then proceeding onto Brize, Carterton, Minster and Burford.
The good thing about a busway is that it could be converted to light rail at a later date, and a light rail track with rails embedded in concrete could still accommodate guided buses. You could in theory have a light rail service to Witney centre and the main estates, with guided buses using the track and then proceeding onto Brize, Carterton, Minster and Burford. King Joke
  • Score: 2

5:38pm Fri 5 Sep 14

toocheeky says...

King Joke wrote:
The good thing about a busway is that it could be converted to light rail at a later date, and a light rail track with rails embedded in concrete could still accommodate guided buses. You could in theory have a light rail service to Witney centre and the main estates, with guided buses using the track and then proceeding onto Brize, Carterton, Minster and Burford.
This has merit! Though we deride the car something does need to be down about improving capacity for trucks and cars and not just public transport. A busway would not stop the majority of journeys that use the A40 to get beyond Oxford from the West Oxon area (yes that does happen!) Light rail connecting direct to Oxford Train station is a great idea! This also needs to be looked at alongside issues with the A34 for a realistic integrated Oxfordshire transport network....
[quote][p][bold]King Joke[/bold] wrote: The good thing about a busway is that it could be converted to light rail at a later date, and a light rail track with rails embedded in concrete could still accommodate guided buses. You could in theory have a light rail service to Witney centre and the main estates, with guided buses using the track and then proceeding onto Brize, Carterton, Minster and Burford.[/p][/quote]This has merit! Though we deride the car something does need to be down about improving capacity for trucks and cars and not just public transport. A busway would not stop the majority of journeys that use the A40 to get beyond Oxford from the West Oxon area (yes that does happen!) Light rail connecting direct to Oxford Train station is a great idea! This also needs to be looked at alongside issues with the A34 for a realistic integrated Oxfordshire transport network.... toocheeky
  • Score: 1

6:12pm Fri 5 Sep 14

Patrick, Devon says...

£35m is a tiny amount considering the size of the problem. I agree heavy rail is not the answer, but just where will the buses go once they reach St Giles or the rail station?

Its not just existing bus services, but a massive growth in public transport capacity is needed not only to get a modal switch, but also to accomodate the planned growth of population. Plus the challenge is to link up with areas such as Harwell etc.

Mass transit corridoors need mass transit infrastructure, and a growing city region needs a comprehensive plan.
£35m is a tiny amount considering the size of the problem. I agree heavy rail is not the answer, but just where will the buses go once they reach St Giles or the rail station? Its not just existing bus services, but a massive growth in public transport capacity is needed not only to get a modal switch, but also to accomodate the planned growth of population. Plus the challenge is to link up with areas such as Harwell etc. Mass transit corridoors need mass transit infrastructure, and a growing city region needs a comprehensive plan. Patrick, Devon
  • Score: 0

9:03pm Fri 5 Sep 14

By-Tor says...

richwitney wrote:
No doubt the money will be wasted on some half-ar5ed scheme rather than sorting the problem once and for all.

At the very least it needs to be a 2 lane guided busway - but where's the long term vision?

Is reinstating the rail line too brave a move for our local and national politicians?
Don't expect any 'long-term' vision in this part of the country. The only thing that will be long-term will be the protracted debate and indecision that characterises all big projects such as this. That £35m will be swallowed up long before the first sod is lifted.
2 lane guided busway following the A40 will take up all the cycle path on one side, then there's the issue of the bridge at Hansons and Dukes Cut to get over. Go for a real Rapid Transit System as proposed by WestOx Monorail and free up the existing carriageway for buses.
[quote][p][bold]richwitney[/bold] wrote: No doubt the money will be wasted on some half-ar5ed scheme rather than sorting the problem once and for all. At the very least it needs to be a 2 lane guided busway - but where's the long term vision? Is reinstating the rail line too brave a move for our local and national politicians?[/p][/quote]Don't expect any 'long-term' vision in this part of the country. The only thing that will be long-term will be the protracted debate and indecision that characterises all big projects such as this. That £35m will be swallowed up long before the first sod is lifted. 2 lane guided busway following the A40 will take up all the cycle path on one side, then there's the issue of the bridge at Hansons and Dukes Cut to get over. Go for a real Rapid Transit System as proposed by WestOx Monorail and free up the existing carriageway for buses. By-Tor
  • Score: 0

10:37pm Fri 5 Sep 14

the wizard says...

There are two elements to this,

Hudspeth and his cronies will continue to talk, talk and more talk, and paint themselves in more corners with more building before anything is done.

Second, you can guarantee that the system they eventually decide on will in inadequate, under funded and out of date, not to mention poorly conceived and implemented , as they have not a clue to what they do.
There are two elements to this, Hudspeth and his cronies will continue to talk, talk and more talk, and paint themselves in more corners with more building before anything is done. Second, you can guarantee that the system they eventually decide on will in inadequate, under funded and out of date, not to mention poorly conceived and implemented , as they have not a clue to what they do. the wizard
  • Score: 1

2:46pm Thu 11 Sep 14

Eraser says...

Need a study first! This stretch of road has been studied to death. No doubt the council will commission another study then a feasibility study of the results of the initial study and so on until there is just enough cash left to fill in a few pot holes on the cycle lanes and paint some lines.
Need a study first! This stretch of road has been studied to death. No doubt the council will commission another study then a feasibility study of the results of the initial study and so on until there is just enough cash left to fill in a few pot holes on the cycle lanes and paint some lines. Eraser
  • Score: 1

9:21am Fri 12 Sep 14

dan.dean says...

Tidal lanes didn't used to require gantries: there were tidal lanes on magdalen Bridge, with islands that slid across the road on rails.
Tidal lanes didn't used to require gantries: there were tidal lanes on magdalen Bridge, with islands that slid across the road on rails. dan.dean
  • Score: 0

9:45am Fri 12 Sep 14

King Joke says...

THat assumes you've got room for islands, and budget to employ people to move them.
THat assumes you've got room for islands, and budget to employ people to move them. King Joke
  • Score: 0

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