A NEW train service between Oxford, Bicester and London Marylebone was given the backing of Oxfordshire County Council Cabinet in principle tonight.

But councillors were warned that “structural problems” could hit one important element of the scheme, the double tracking of the line between Bicester and Islip.

Cabinet members supported Chiltern Railways’ £200m proposal to create a new Oxford to London service by 2013 but warned it would have to demonstrate exceptional reasons for wanting to build a new station at Water Eaton, which would be in the Green Belt.

But the progress of Chiltern’s proposals was marred by news that essential work may not go ahead.

The officers’ report warned councillors: “Structural problems on part of the route between Bicester and Islip would make double-tracking that section more expensive than initially envisaged.

“What would initially be constructed would therefore be only partially double tracked and have a capacity for only four trains (three passenger and one freight) each way per hour.”

The structural problems are unlikely to impact on Chiltern Railways ability to run two fast trains per hour between Marylebone and Oxford as promised.

But the report warns of serious implications for the long awaited east-west rail link scheme, which would mean only one train an hour instead of two between Oxford and Milton Keynes.