THE BOSS of Oxford Bus Company says the closure of Oxford railway station for much of July was 'quite an operational challenge' for the firm.

The company, along with Thames Travel, yesterday reported that passenger numbers doubled during July on its park-and-ride routes.

Extra buses were put in service to support Chiltern and Great Western Railway keep rail passengers moving during significant rail engineering works between Oxford and Didcot Parkway rail stations.

Oxford station was all but shut for two weeks between July 7 and Sunday, July 22 and again last weekend, with almost no train calling in the city.

As a a result, rail tickets were accepted across many routes and a dedicated ‘Bike Bus’, with additional internal space and racks to carry bikes, was introduced to help customers with cycles complete their journeys

Extra staff were also deployed to Oxford Rail station to assist customers and manage the increased demand for buses.

The Oxford Bus Company Park&Ride 500 service which stops at Oxford Rail station, the city centre, Summertown, Oxford Parkway, Blenheim and Woodstock, carried twice as many passengers as normal during the rail engineering works.

Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel Managing Director Phil Southall said: “Our rail replacement service was quite an operational challenge and our staff responded superbly, with professionalism and a fantastic customer service focused attitude. It was important we did all we could to keep Oxfordshire moving during this period, and we successfully worked in partnership with Chiltern Railways and Great Western Railway to do exactly that."

Chiltern Railway said it was grateful to the company and its staff for their professionalism.