Work to create a railway link between Oxford and Milton Keynes could begin as early as next year, with a new study signalling the start of detailed construction planning.

The "congestion busting" link holds out the promise of 12-minute train journeys between Oxford and Bicester and 35 minutes between Oxford and Milton Keynes.

The consortium behind the plan says the scheme linking Oxford to Milton Keynes, Bedford and Aylesbury is on track to become operational by 2012. But the estimated cost, originally put at £130m, has risen to £190m, going to £228m if a spur to Aylesbury is included.

A new report commissioned by the East West Rail Consortium, made up of councils and development agencies, has backed the case for a new network of railway lines and train services. It means the long awaited project now goes to a detailed planning stage.

Adrian Saunders, Oxfordshire County Council's rail development officer, said: "There is a lot of support coming from the Department for Transport and Network Rail to get this project moving. Construction work could start by the end of 2009."