A COUNCIL has won a multi-million pound grant to build a controversial bridge across a railway line in Bicester.

If comes after concerns were raised that planned rail improvements between Oxford, Bicester and Bedford would see the London Road crossing closed for up to 42 minutes in every hour.

This would have delayed traffic at the level crossing.

Oxfordshire County Council says it could get anything from £2.3m to £6.8m from the Government to fund a bridge and would seek more cash from the Local Enterprise Partnership.

But fears have been raised that the crossing is “too big a problem to be resolved” and it should be left as it is.

London Road is a busy access to Bicester town centre and has both residential and business properties in the area around the rail crossing.

John Broad, of Bicester CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) said: “I think someone’s mad. Imagine how far a slope will have to go to cover the bridge.

“All these people living on each side of London Road would look out at banking.

“Personally I would say close it. I don’t see it as a bigger problem than trying to build a bridge.”

He said the other option was to “let it run” and at peak times people would find a different route.

London Road resident Brian Davies said: “I suspect there will be significant disruption to local property owners because obviously in order to clear the railway and electrification, the ramp for the bridge would have to start by Station Approach and the Shell garage. It would be quite a major feature.”

Independent town, district and county councillor Les Sibley said: “The rail crossing will cause inconvenience but with the improvements in services there is more gain than pain.

“People won’t want to open their windows and see a big flyover structure in front of their homes.

“The problems the rail crossing presents are probably too big a problem to resolve.

“They are going to have to spend a lot of money to overcome the problems and we have to ask: Is it worth it?”

Council spokesman Marcus Mabberley said the new rail services would mean the road would be closed too often.

He said: “The scheme is to provide an overbridge, or similar, to allow traffic to continue to travel freely.”

If approved, a bridge would be completed by March 2017.

As part of Chiltern Railways’ application for a Transport and Works Act order to carry out work on the Bicester/Oxford line, it looked at options for the crossing.

It concluded that the “only viable option at this location” was to retain a level crossing and provide updated and upgraded crossing control equipment.

The report warned that the site was “constrained”, there would be “extensive property acquisition and demolition”, and the project could cost in the region of £10m.

An underpass was ruled out due to flooding risk.

Graham Cross, Chiltern’s business development director, welcomed the decision and said the operator would work with the council.