AN INVESTMENT of £161 million to overhaul Oxford rail station will transform the city and wider area, senior politicians have said.

The funding was announced by the Department for Transport yesterday, with rail minister Wendy Morton telling this newspaper that increased jobs and tourism will boost Oxford.

Network Rail’s plans to increase capacity at the station will lead to the complete closure of Botley Road and the station, as the rail bridge in Botley Road needs to be replaced as part of the expansion plans.

READ AGAIN: Oxford station to get £161m for new track and platform

Among the upgrades to be completed by 2024 are the creation of a new track, platform and entrance on the west side of the station.

The western station entrance will be built next to Botley Road, and will link up to the new platform via a subway, stairs and lift.

Oxford Mail: How the new western entrance could look. Picture: Network RailHow the new western entrance could look. Picture: Network Rail

The Department for Transport estimates almost 10,000 new jobs will be created as a result of the project, with more people drawn to Oxford.

Funding will also be used to create a four-metre wide cycling and walking path at the Botley Road rail bridge.

Work at the station will begin later this year, with the Botley Road improvements expected to be completed by the end of 2023, followed by the new platform and entrance which is set to open in 2024.

Oxford Mail: A CGI image of how the station could look. Picture: Network RailA CGI image of how the station could look. Picture: Network Rail

Ms Morton said: “We’ve announced £161m of funding, which will really transform Oxford station and the area around it.

“The package is bringing in a transformative set of improvements to Oxford station and the area around there.

“There’s passengers, local residents, tourists, students and business travellers as well, so I think it’s a great, positive step, which is why I’m so enthusiastic about it.

“This Government is making big investments into railways – this £161m is for Oxford station but I genuinely believe it will have benefits beyond just the city of Oxford.

“In terms of people accessing work, employment and tourists coming into the city, the benefits go much further than Oxford city itself.”

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The work to replace the Botley Road bridge is scheduled to take place between July 29 and August 6 next year.

During this time, Botley Road will be closed to through traffic and there will be no train services in or out of the station.

Ms Morton stressed that the station will only close for nine days after previous suggestions it would close for ‘a significant period of time’.

She said: “I want to clarify as I know there has been some local concerns.

“Yes there will be road closures towards, but Oxford station and Botley Road will be closed for nine days next summer.

“When it comes to road closures, I appreciate it can be disruptive but Oxfordshire County Council is working with Network Rail to make sure there is as little disruption as possible.”

Oxford Mail: File image of Oxford station. Picture: Greg BlatchfordFile image of Oxford station. Picture: Greg Blatchford

OxLEP, the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, contributed £10m towards the £161m total.

Nigel Tipple, chief executive of OxLEP, said: “Not only will this investment lead to a more positive experience for passengers using the station – plus improvements to north-south and east-west connectivity – but it brings vast knock-on benefits to a variety of other key economic areas too.

“The Oxfordshire economy can play a major role in supporting the national economic recovery from Covid-19 and this investment will go a long way to further enable many of our globally significant sectors and emerging transformative technologies based in the city.

“Confirmation of this project may also lead to further investor confidence into Oxfordshire, as well as supporting innovation-led projects within close proximity of the station, including the University of Oxford-led and OxLEP-backed Osney Mead innovation quarter – a development that will see the creation of exciting new, cutting-edge research facilities, commercial space and accommodation.”

Oxford Mail: File image of Oxford station. Picture: Ed NixFile image of Oxford station. Picture: Ed Nix

The county council’s cabinet member for travel and development strategy, Duncan Enright, said: “Our beloved city of Oxford deserves a railway station that is fit for the 21st century, and this project delivers on that vision.

“It is wonderful news for the county’s sustainable transport links. As the highways authority, we will be doing all we can to minimise the disruption to residents and visitors resulting from the essential work on the station.

“Despite the short-term inconvenience we all know it will be worth it in the end, making Oxford the welcoming crossroads for the region’s railways.”

Oxford City Council leader Susan Brown added: “We know that cities are the most sustainable locations for jobs because of the ability to provide housing close by but also public transport hubs.

“There will be a significant number of new jobs in the West End and wider city centre over the next few years and we need more passenger services, better freight, and a rail service that can really support businesses, residents and visitors in the city.”

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This story was written by Liam Rice, he joined the team in 2019 as a multimedia reporter.

Liam covers politics, travel and transport. He occasionally covers Oxford United.

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