WORK to finish a direct rail link between central Oxford and London Marylebone could be given the go-ahead within weeks.

Network Rail hopes to win approval for the last stage of the project from Oxford City Council this month.

It would link Oxford Station with the recently-opened Oxford Parkway Station in Water Eaton, part of the £270m East West Rail scheme to connect the Great Western Main Line to Oxford and Cambridge, via Bicester.

East West Rail spokeswoman Lesia Kozlowsky said it was hoped passengers would be able to catch a half-hourly train to Marylebone from new platforms at Oxford Station in December.

She added: "We think that is a realistic target and are confident we can secure approval this month.

"It is the final piece that would link central Oxford with London Marylebone."

A December opening of services would still be about six months later than originally planned and officials are wary of further setbacks.

Chiltern Railways, a leading partner of East West Rail, began offering passenger services from Oxford Parkway to Marylebone last October and hoped to extend this to Oxford Station by spring this year.

But a series of concerns raised by residents about noise and vibration from the link through North Oxford have meant Network Rail must first prove it has put in place mitigation measures.

It is attempting to get the last of these signed off but needs approval from the city council's west area planning committee.

Ms Kozlowsky added: "We have been talking to the council throughout the whole process and we are hoping we can reach an agreement.

"This section of track would open up a huge link between all the mainline routes, with all sorts of possibilities that could come from that.

"It would mean a lot more traffic going through Oxford."