An Oxford to Witney railway should be ‘urgently fast tracked’ as the thought of thousands more householders sitting in traffic on the A40 is 'depressing', a campaigner has said.

A new study has shown that building a rail link would be doable and would be profitable.

However, construction costs are estimated at between £700 - £900 million.

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It would also depend on other rail improvements being funded and completed, including the planned upgrade to the North Cotswold Line.

Oxford Mail:

The study was commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council, following proposals from the Witney Oxford Transport (WOT) group. 

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Chairman of the group, councillor Charlie Maynard said: "This railway will reach Oxford from Carterton in 23 minutes and from Witney in 16 minutes.

"According to the lead manager of the A40 works, even with the four miles of bus lane scheduled to be built between Eynsham and Oxford, road travel time into Oxford from Witney and Carterton are projected to be half an hour slower by 2031 than it is currently."

He said with thousands more homes slated to be built over the next decade it was "clear to everyone that we don't have the necessary transport infrastructure".

The idea of a rail link has been under discussion for 50 years after passenger trains stopped running between Oxford and Witney in 1962.

Oxford Mail:

But plans have been given a new impetus in the past two years.

Mr Maynard, who is the Lib Dem candidate to be the next MP for Witney, said: “One of the reasons I've spent so much time on this is that I am so depressed about the scale of housing planned without the transport infrastructure to support it.

“In West Oxfordshire we've been signed up for 10,500 homes between 2021 and 2031. We're being force fed these homes whether we like or not, with or without a railway, by central government.

"This is a major problem.

READ MORE: Witney campaigner says rail link 'urgent' as 1000s of homes planned

"I believe the most sensible solution is to site the housing around railway stations so that residents have a fast, reliable, green transport alternative to jumping in their cars and getting stuck on the A40."

He added: "Clearly this is a big and ambitious project. There will always be naysayers, but the question for them is 'what's your plan?'"

Mr Maynard said in contrast to previous proposals which hit the buffers WOT are not suggesting the line is restored on exactly the old route because it has largely been built on.

Oxford Mail: Oxford to Witney rail link

"Our goal is to connect the same dots - Oxford, Eynsham, Witney, Carterton - in as practical and environmentally sensible way as possible.

"A key goal is to define and protect a route so that it's not accidentally built on and blocked. We've worked very closely with the team responsible for the A40 works and with Grosvenor, the lead developer of Salt Cross Garden Village. Both entities are supportive.

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"In Grosvenor's case, we have reached an agreement on a provisional route through the Salt Cross Garden Village site which results in no net loss of developable land."

A second study exploring funding options is under way and will conclude in another month or so. It is looking at how planned housing along the A40 can help fund the railway.

"It's how our Victorian forebears built our railways originally," said Mr Maynard.

"Properties and land at B are worth more if a railway is built from A to B. Take that incremental gain and split it between landowners and developers and a fund to build the railway.

"This Witney project will be split into phases, so we don't need to fund the whole project at once.

"But it needs to be urgently fast-tracked so that we can provide a fast, reliable and sustainable transport solution to West Oxfordshire."