PARKING at Oxford Rail Station will become easier when new facilities are finally finished next month - two years behind schedule.

A new short stay car park at the station was due to be completed in 2017, but could open next month after several 'challenges' with associated works.

The old short stay car park's closure in 2016 halved the space available to the city's taxi drivers at the station, meaning many motorists often have no designated pick-up and drop-off point to wait for passengers.

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Sajad Khan, the secretary of the City of Oxford Licensed Taxicab Association, admitted the work had caused issues for drivers, but said he understood why it was taking place.

Oxford Mail:

He said: "The ongoing works have impacted us over the past three years with problems of ranking up.

"Because of the good understanding we have with the shift managers in particular, the effort has always been made to accommodate our drivers so they may operate from the rail station with minimal disturbance.”

He added: "The aim is to improve the facilities and services at Oxford station and that includes the current ongoing work at the short stay car park."

Before the work began, 32 taxis could park outside the front of the station at one time, but only 16 spaces are currently available.

Meanwhile, a temporary short stay car park is currently based in the main car park in Becket Street.

The new car park has been held back by Network Rail's £48.5m Oxford Corridor phase 0 works, which the organisation revealed had been beset with difficulties.

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Responding to a Freedom of Information request, the company said problems included 'delayed activities on site', the collapse of principal contractor Carillion last year and a 'shortage of suitable cladding contractors.

A new operational building to the east of the station was part of the phase 0 works and was also scheduled to finish in 2017, Network Rail confirmed, although this has now been built.

Meanwhile, a new ticket facility and gate line will return 'shortly' after the car park, which will open subject to final checks with Network Rail and GWR.

Network Rail spokesperson Emily Maiden confirmed the project team had received no complaints despite the delays, while GWR spokesperson, Dan Panes, said the work had aimed to accommodate taxi drivers.

He said: "We have done a great deal to allow taxi drivers to remain in the existing location while the work has been carried out. Work has been scheduled to make sure that the taxi rank area has remained open through – without change."

Oxford Mail:

The works have not affected bus stops at the station, with services continuing to run as normal.

Phil Southall, managing director of Oxford Bus Company, said drivers in the city were used to space constraints.

He added: “We are highly experienced in working side by side with other transport operators within restricted spaces.

"The tight space constraints of Oxford exist across the city and in the wider interests of preventing congestion getting worse it’s vital we are able to continue to operate in all the streets we currently do, including serving the rail station.”

Chris Coleman, managing director, Stagecoach in Oxfordshire said: “We are aware of the works being carried out at the short stay car park at Oxford rail station, however this has not affected the Stagecoach bus stops or services and they continue to run as normal.”

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The operational works for phase 0 finished in December 2016, following the introduction of Chiltern Railways' passenger services between Oxford and London Marylebone.

Outstanding phase 0 works were integrated with the phase 1 programme, which was commissioned in July 2018 and mainly consists of replacing track, plus points and signalling work.

The rest of phase 1 is set to be completed this summer.