PLANS to electrify the East West Rail link have been scrapped sparking fears residents north of the city could be on track for more misery.

Electrification on the proposed line between Oxford and Cambridge had been postponed to upgrade the railway first but now the Department for Transport has told Network Rail to 'remove electrification from the scope of the project'.

It comes as the rail firm prepares for Phase Two of the project between Bicester and Bedford, to be completed in the early 2020s.

The move has led to concerns that a new fleet of electric trains would no longer be used on the line, leaving more diesel engines travelling through North Oxford and Wolvercote.

County councillor for the area, John Howson, said: "The risk is we get 'hand-me-down' diesel engines that are 40 years old.

"George Osborne's view was that the project would electrify the freight spine of the country.

Mr Howson, who lives near the railway in Oxford, added: "It will also affect many people living along the line who will have to contend with many more noisy diesel trains passing their homes 24 hours a day."

Yesterday the Government announced the sale of new petrol and diesel cars would be stopped by 2040 and Mr Howson said the revelations that diesel engines could be running through Oxford beyond that date showed a 'lack of joined up thinking.'

Residents living close to the line in North Oxford and Wolvercote concluded a long battle with Network Rail over noise and vibration mitigation earlier this year.

The 250 households raised £12,000 for an expert lawyer to assess whether a judicial review could be brought against a decision not to allow Network Rail to install Silent Track - but their legal advice ruled they had little chance of winning.

Once Phase Two is completed the number of passenger trains through the area will double along with an increase in freight services.

Keith Dancey, who lives in Upper Wolvercote, has been one of the worst affected by vibrations shaking his house.

He said the electrification of freight services was always going to be difficult but that North Oxford residents were nonetheless told the line would be fully electrified.

He said: "The electrification of the railway was a big selling point to all the residents along the line.

"We have been cheated out of lots of thing throughout the process and this is another thing - it's been a nightmare.

"There are pros and cons to electrification, the wires above the line are an eyesore, they really are as ugly as sin, and they would be very close to people's homes.

"But the diesel trains are heavier and create more vibrations to houses and of course there's the issue of environmental pollution and the particulates released into the atmosphere."

Mr Dancey added that a campaign group was still fighting for monitoring to be carried out to make sure Phase 2 operations don't exceed Government limits.

The construction of the line between Oxford and Oxford Parkway - Phase One - allowed for future electrification but that will now not happen.

Green MEP for the South East, Keith Taylor, said: "The line needs to be electrified.

"This is an element of the scheme that was initially on the cards, but the Government has since back-tracked.

"Whilst the first phase infrastructure has allowed for future electrification, it was a huge shame that this was not included during the initial construction phase He added: "Lessons need to be learned from this and effort should be made to ensure that the next phases of the route construction include electrification from the outset."

Network Rail said only the Department for Transport could comment on electrification but spokesman Jon Crampton said: "We will continue to carry out monitoring on phase one of East West Rail to check the effectiveness of the mitigation features installed as part of that work.

"We are currently carrying out consultation on phase two of the project and will be producing an environmental impact assessment as part of our Transport and Work Act Order submission."

The Department for Transport failed to respond to a request for comment.