LINKING Oxford and Witney by a new railway could be a 'light in the dark' to the huge traffic jams on the A40.

Plans to revive the railway between Oxford and the west of the county have been discussed before, as much of the old track bed on the way to Witney still exists.

When Oxfordshire county councillors met on Tuesday they gave their backing to the idea of carrying out a study into whether a rail link from Carterton, Witney and Eynsham to Oxford could be doable, as part of a solution to traffic on the A40.

Charles Mathew, the Conservative councillor for Eynsham proposed the plan, and in his motion for debate said a decision by Oxfordshire's Local Enterprise Partnership to withdraw money from a relief road project for the A40 'undermines sensible solutions to the endless traffic jams on the A40 between Witney and Oxford roundabouts'.

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The proposed relief road, the Loop Farm project, would have seen a road built between Duke’s Cut on the A40 to the Loop Farm roundabout road on the A44, taking pressure off the Wolvercote roundabout.

Mr Mathew said a rail link could help to take the pressure of West Oxfordshire commuters off the roads by placing them on trains instead.

He said: "We need to look forward and solve the A40 problem, not just for today at its rate of 32,000 cars a day but for the next 20 years at least.

"An imaginative approach is needed.

"I would look to the old railway line… as the light in the darkness."

Oxford Mail:

Traffic near Wolvercote roundabout in 2016. Picture: Richard Cave

Mr Mathew later added that continuing to improve the A40 would not solve its traffic problem, especially as more housing developments are being built along the road, and that a long term solution was needed.

He said: "This is in today’s age an absolute necessity that we should be looking 20, 30 40 years ahead.

"Funding is not impossible if you have the desire."

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Other councillors were largely supportive of the idea of carrying out a study into the new railway line, including Paul Buckley, the Lib Dem councillor for Wolvercote and Summertown, where the impact of traffic on the A40 is keenly felt.

Mr Buckley said: "Frankly my residents around Wolvercote felt let down by the decision to remove the funding for the Loop Farm link road.

"The need for it has been apparent for years even before the new housing came along."

He added that while plans to fix the road had stalled, large new housing developments, including Oxford North, had been approved, which would add hundreds of cars to nearby roads.

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A design drawing of council plans to dual the A40. Picture: Oxfordshire County Council

Mr Buckley added: "This is horrendous. It is simply unacceptable for the county council to blithely continue with no plan to fix congestion at the Wolvercote roundabout."

But Yvonne Constance, the Conservative-run council's cabinet member for transport and the environment said the planned relief road was still on the cards, as it was part of a long term 'connectivity strategy'.

Ms Constance added previous studies into reviving the railway line had shown it was not financially viable and said there were other priorities for the railways in Oxfordshire which needed to be funded, including reopening the Cowley Branch Line and the East-West rail link to Cambridge.

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Oxfordshire County Council has won a bid for £102m of Government transport funding which will allow it to dual the A40, and to add in new bus lanes along the road.

It hopes to build a new Eynsham park and ride for commuters into Oxford as well.

Only last year campaigners in the Witney Oxford Transport Group drew up a plan for a new railway line extending westwards out of the city, claiming the A40 upgrade would not be enough on its own.

Witney MP Robert Courts has also previously expressed an interest in whether reviving the railway line could be feasible.