A SENIOR University of Oxford figure has backed plans for a rail link between Witney and Oxford.

The Witney Oxford Transport Group recently sent its proposals to the Government for a Carterton-Witney-Eynsham-Oxford link.

A survey of 771 respondents, conducted between February 22 and March 4, found 97 per cent supported exploring the potential of restoring a railway line, connecting the communities of Carterton, Witney and Eynsham with Oxford.

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Now, David Prout, pro-vice chancellor (planning and resources) at the University of Oxford, has given his backing to the plans.

He said: “A significant proportion of the university’s 15,000 staff live in West Oxfordshire and a direct rail connection from Carterton and Witney would substantially improve accessibility to Oxford’s employment and education opportunities.

“Restoring the rail links to Oxford would significantly reduce journey times and cut emissions of carbon, nitrous oxides and particulates associated with road transport on the A40 which suffers from chronic traffic congestion.

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“The prospect of this rail link forming part of a future Oxfordshire sustainable transport strategy is very exciting.”

His role at the university sees Dr Prout be responsible for institutional and strategic planning, and resource allocation.

Before taking up his post at the university, he was director general for the High Speed 2 railway programme.

Seventy-four per cent of those that took part in the Witney Oxford Transport Group survey stated they were ‘very likely’ to use the new rail link, a figure which delighted Charlie Maynard, the group’s chair.

He said: “To get the number of participants we did that quickly is very unusual.

“The volume of comments saying we need this link is pretty emphatic.

Charlie Maynard

“We never expected a figure as high as 97 per cent and I hope that decision makers take that on board.

“The A40 takes a long time to get to Oxford and that’s the only way for people at the moment, so this would increase people’s opportunities enormously.”

Under the group’s proposals, the train between Carterton and Oxford would take 22 minutes, compared to the current journey of more than an hour by bus.

Mr Maynard has previously said the station at Eynsham would be a ‘key area’, especially with the incoming Salt Cross garden village.

The 2,200-home development will be built north of the A40, near Eynsham.

The group submitted a bid to the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Restoring Your Railway Fund ahead of a March 5 deadline.

The proposal to the DfT will seek funding for a feasibility study.

The DfT will fund 75 per cent of costs, up to £50,000, of successful proposals to help fund transport and economic studies, and create a business case.

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