A REAFFIRMED pledge has come from councillors to push government on a solution to a busy level crossing.

Bicester’s county councillors have committed themselves in an open letter to bring about a bridge or tunnel at the London Road junction.

For years plans have been in place for various rail upgrades which in turn could see the current level crossing closed for up to 45 minutes every hour, with the increased usage once East West Rail services are introduced.

This raised concern among local residents and councillors that the crossing would ultimately be closed permanently and shut off a major route into the town centre.

Oxford Mail: Bicester councillors Michael Waine and Les Sibley at the London Road railway level crossing where an increase in London-bound trains from Oxford has caused more frequent, and sometimes longer, waits for drivers and pedestrians..20.03.2017. .Pic by Jon Lew

But this week the town’s county councillors have clubbed together to reaffirm their plans to hammer Government for the necessary funds needed to resolve the problem.

The open letter, from councillors Michael Waine, Lawrie Stratford, Les Sibley and Dan Sames, said: “Resolving the London Road crossing problem has very much been to the forefront of our work at county and local level.

“The options of a tunnel or bridge are all well-rehearsed, but getting a national body to take responsibility, particularly financial, is a different matter.”

Current ‘barrier down’ times are about 14 minutes each hour.

This ‘down time’ is currently expected to roughly double to between 30 and 34 minutes every hour with the introduction of the core East West Rail (EWR) service - four additional trains each way.

Initial plans suggested this could rise to up to 45 minutes each hour.

Three solutions to keep road traffic flowing plans were drawn up by transport bosses including Network Rail in March 2017 which included two tunnel options costing up to £65m or a bridge costing about £44m.

The council letter added: “In a major effort to move matters forward this summer we called a meeting of all local lead players including the county council, Cherwell District Council, the town council, and MP Victoria Prentis.

“The most important outcomes of the meeting were that all shared the responsibility of working together to achieve the outcome of a financed tunnel or bridge, and perhaps most importantly, a commitment by council leaders to have a dedicated officer to prepare the case for a bid to Government through the Oxfordshire Growth Board.

“We believe that these commitments represent a crucial step towards ensuring London Road remains fully open and becomes fully accessible all the time every day.”